Back in August, The Lady in the Black gathered a few bloggers for a new challenge: save our spavings.
For those of you who don’t recognize the term, spavings is money that is only “saved” through spending. For example, how gas stations and drugstores frequently have sodas at $1.79 each or two for $3. Now you feel like you’re overpaying if you don’t get two.
Most of us fight the urge — because it is overpaying if you didn’t actually want the second one — but no one’s infallible. And if you’re like me, even when you do resist, you feel a pang of guilt/frustration. From not having spent more money. Friggin’ genius marketing!
But this wasn’t just about that level of insidious marketing. It was about paying attention to all the ways we’re told (and often believe) we’re saving money: grocery store discounts, redeemed rewards points, happy hours, etc.
One issue with spavings is that many of us buy certain products only when they’re on sale. So we’re not saving money because we wouldn’t ever pay full price.
But the major point The Lady in Black was trying to reinforce was that “spavings” aren’t the same as “savings.” In other words, it’s you’re not saving any money until it’s actually in a savings account.
In other words, the same thing I’ve been saying and doing for ages (to briefly toot my own horn) with our saved savings account. Each month, a minimum of $140 goes into the account: $92 for cutting the cord, $30 from switching to Ooma, a lowered Internet rate, etc. I also throw in money I get from cash back sites like Mr. Rebates.
For the challenge, I added grocery store savings, redeemed Walgreens rewards, discounts from getting combo meals, and the savings from discounted GCs. I definitely forgot a few things (like a lower gas rate thanks to grocery store points) because life is hectic and I sometimes just forget to count stuff.
Also, I purposefully excluded the savings from the discount GCs used on prescriptions. That’s because we’re currently paying about $500 a month for our medications (stupid donut hole). We try to live on $210 a week, which has to cover at least — at least — $40 in copays. Our record for lasting the full seven days is already pretty spotty, so taking out another $50 just isn’t tenable.
Drum roll please
So what were the results of all these spavings? We put away $147.88* more than usual. Woot!
Even more impressive than the amount was that most of the savings were quite small. Specifically, only 20 of the 54 spavings were for more than $1. Only five were for more than $5.
Proof once again that small amounts quickly add up.
You can see all of the participants’ results in today’s post on The Lady in the Black.
Implications for the future
As cool as the results were, I’m not going to keep up this pace.
The biggest problem is that the transfers from this challenge made it even even harder live on $210 a week. But there was a second issue: It was a lot of extra work. During the challenge I had to pay exacting attention to every single so-called savings and had to do a lot more transfers than usual.
Remember, we put everything on the credit card. So I already have to log in and transfer any amount we spend out of the main account. Keeping up with that can be taxing enough. But during September I had 54 transactions that required two extra transfers: transferring the spavings out of the main account and setting up a transfer into the saved savings account.
A lot of those spavings were from discounted gift cards, which means it’ll be easier to lessen my work load if I just stop saving those spavings.
Instead I’ll go back to the old method: Transfer the entire purchase price out of the main account and just let it (and its spavings) go into the weekly credit card payment.
Including the spavings there means that our credit card bill is lower, which means more money to put into savings. So either way, the savings account balance goes up. It’s just that it’s a lot more fun — if far more work — to see a big number in the saved savings account.
That said, I’ll still be renewing my saved savings efforts, which I got pretty lax about over the last year or so. (Gee, it’s almost like I was barely hanging on to sanity.) Now I’ll be more vigilant about transferring out money for coupons, rewards points, and any day-to-day spending we use Amazon gift cards for. (Not counting the expensive TV stand, obviously.)
Everything else will just need to get played by ear.
Do you guys get lured into spavings? Would you do this type of challenge?
*You’ll see a higher number in The Lady in the Black’s post. Turns out I did the math wrong, forgetting to subtract my Mr. Rebates payment. That didn’t count because it wasn’t spavings from September purchases.