Friday, July 20, 2012

Frugal Friday: The Hidden Costs

I love the feeling of getting a "good deal", don't you? Marketers, advertisers, and store designers know all about that feeling. There's always some kind of SALE, DISCOUNT or CLEARANCE going on that making us feel like we've gotten a "good deal". Unfortunately, I've discovered that there are times when being TOO frugal can end up costing MORE. For me, taking time to think about the TOTAL cost of purchase helps me to avoid some of those frustrating moments. It's easy to see the price listed and even figure in tax (if applicable). But the total cost of purchase is really much, much more. Here's a few hidden costs that I've found are important to remember before you buy something you think is a "good deal":
  1. TRAVEL COSTS - Do you consider the expense in time and money for travel to and from the store as part of your total cost?
  2. MAINTENANCE COSTS - Have you considered that the cost of buying something also includes the labor, time and money that you spend to maintain, clean or repair that item? 
  3. STORAGE COSTS - Have you thought about the costs in time and money to store and organize what you buy?
Here are some examples of hidden costs that you may not have thought about for a few specific items.
  • CLOTHES - $ and time to travel to store or shop online with shipping, $ to buy, $ for running the washer and dryer, $ for laundry products, $ and time for ironing, $ and time for mending, $ for dry-cleaning, time for folding, $ for storage (hangers, dressers, boxes, bins, etc). 
  • TOYS - $ and time to travel to store or shop online with shipping, $ to buy, $ for batteries, time and $ to fix, $ for cleaning supplies, $ for toy organization supplies (boxes, bins, shelves, bookcases, etc).
  • VEHICLES - $ and time to travel and test drive, $ to buy, $ for insurance, $ for gasoline, $ for maintenance (replacing fluids, cleaning), $ for storage space (garage, shed, etc.), $ for repairs, etc. 
  • HOMES - $ and time to travel and look at homes, $ for down payment, $ for closing costs, $ for insurance, $ for interest over lifetime of the loan, $ for cleaning costs, $ for heating and cooling, $ and time for repairs, $ and time for landscaping, $ for furniture, etc., etc. (I could go on for a while on this one, but you get the idea). 
It's amazing all the hidden costs that you can come up with when you really sit down and think about them. Next time you want to make a purchase, I challenge you to sit down beforehand and list all of the hidden costs for that purchase. Over time you will get better at resisting impulse buying because you've adopted the pattern of thinking your purchases through beforehand.  And it's easier to say no when you see the TOTAL cost instead of just the glittery price of an item on sale.

What are some hidden costs that you've discovered in your purchases? 


LeMira said...

One of the hidden costs that I've found in clothes is how quickly I will have to replace an item. For example, I bought some baby sleepers recently cheaply at a well-known store, and within a couple of wearings, the stitching in the toes had come undone or worn out. While I didn't replace them, I'm too cheap, uh, frugal, I mean, I was frustrated on spending money on something that didn't last.

Eden Allison, Independent Consultant said...

Interesting post!
When I first started as an Independent Consultant with Shelf Reliance, one point in my training was that buying foods and freezing them costs you money that we don't think about. As you buy THRIVE foods, they are NOT refrigerated or frozen - they just need space on a shelf (preferably not in the hot garage) to keep their optimal shelf life (usually 1-2 years AFTER they are opened).
So I have thought of some of these points for food, but not always for the others. Thanks for sharing!

Eden Allison, Independent Consultant said...

Immediately after I left my first comment, I was so inspired I wrote a Frugal Friday post for next Friday, linking to this post, applying these ideas to food. Thanks again!

Heather {Healthy Family Cookin} said...

LeMira, I'm right with you the clothes - especially kids clothes. I've bought kid's clothes or shoes that have literally lasted days and wondered why I even bothered...they were almost disposable! Hey that's an idea for someone to market - disposable clothes! Ha ha!

Eden Allison, thanks for pointing out the application to food and food storage. I can see lots hidden costs that I spend on food like freezer bags, freezer space, refrigerator costs, food I end up throwing out, storage containers, and lots of time buying, rotating and managing! I think those are great points to consider and I look forward to reading your post next week.

Anna @ Feminine Adventures said...

So, so true! One of the many reasons I'm seeking to be more minimalistic in my needs and wants.

Thanks for sharing at Thrifty Thursday. I'm featuring your post this week. :)

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