Have You Ever Spent Money to Save Money? Yeah, Me Too.

By Rachel Cruze

3 Minute Read

Some time ago, I was out shopping for maternity clothes. And, like I’ve told you guys before, shopping is one of my weaknesses. I really love shopping.

So I’m out looking for some deals, and there’s a huge sale going on. The maternity clothes were super cute, and I got carried away and went a little over the clothing budget in my EveryDollar budget for last month.  

When I got home, I told my husband, Winston, “I saved $112 on these maternity clothes! They were having a huge sale.”

“Well, how much did you spend?” he asked.

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“Tw . . . ” I whispered.

“What?”

“Two hundred.”

His response wasn’t what I wanted to hear. So you saved $112 by spending $200?” he asked. “You still spent $200.”

Guess what? He was right. I messed up on that one.

I fall into the trap of “spending to save” every now and then. Like I said, shopping is a weakness.

But I know I’m not the only one who likes to spend money to save money. You might have done it before with online deals. You see a Groupon that says “Buy three massages and get the fourth one free.” And you’re thinking, I need a massage. What a deal. And before you know it, you’ve dropped $150 just for the chance to save $50.

Now if you regularly get massages, and that’s your thing, then the Groupon might make sense if you have the disposable income. But don’t just spend money in order to get a deal.

Or you see a Groupon for ziplining for $75, but it has all these qualifiers: You have to redeem it by next month, and you’ll have to drive two hours away to the zipline site.

Probably not the best idea to buy that one. Would you really have driven two hours to go ziplining if there wasn’t a Groupon for it? Doubt it.

Shipping costs are another way to fall into this trap. You’ve budgeted $75 for this new purse you want to buy from Nordstrom. You find it online, add it to your shopping cart, then up pops a notification that you can get free shipping if you spend $120!

Shipping only costs $6, so how does that make sense? You’re going to spend $45 more in order to save $6? That’s crazy!

But I’m not judging you. As you can see, I’ve been right there with you. The bottom line here is that the math just doesn’t work most of the time. It almost never makes sense to spend money in order to save money.

Take it from me. I figured that out the hard way!

Overspending on clothing? Food? Entertainment? Not sure? With EveryDollar, there will be no more wondering where your money went—because you will tell it where to go. Learn more about making an EveryDollar budget that keeps you focused on what matters to you!

Rachel Cruze is a seasoned communicator and presenter, helping Americans learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. Her new book Smart Money Smart Kids, co-authored by her dad Dave Ramsey, released April 2014 and debuted at #1 on the New York Times best-sellers list. You can follow Rachel on Twitter at @RachelCruze, online at rachelcruze.com, or at facebook.com/rachelramseycruze.

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