STOP THE PRESSES! I had a couple of topics in mind for today's post, but when I got this email from Frugal Son, I just had to post it. Frugal Son has never read Your Money or Your Life or The Tightwad Gazette. Yet he somehow figured out the concept of the true hourly wage offered by frugal choices, perhaps by osmosis. In my return email, I further pointed out that the hourly wage he "earns" is even higher than what he states, since, as Andrew Tobias mentioned long ago, you don't pay taxes on money you save.
Here is his email:
One day when Daniel and I were food shopping at Wal-Mart, we came across a frugal conundrum. Was it cheaper to buy bell peppers (a red, yellow, and green) separately or as part of a three-pack? Daniel said it wasn’t worth his time to figure out whether it was a better deal to buy a 3-pack of multicolored bell peppers for $3.50 or to buy them individually for $0.82, $1.87, and $1.87 (which adds up to $4.56).
Being no math-whiz myself, I took 10 seconds to do the math in my head and figured out that the difference was nearly $1.10. I then asked him whether it “was worth his time” to do 10 seconds worth of simple math to earn $1. That is equivalent to earning $360 per hour, a wage that no one would turn down! After all, money you don’t spend on groceries is money that one can spend on something much more fun like a plane ticket.
I think that the reason so few people bargain shop is because they have an image of someone obsessively clipping coupons out of the newspaper to save a few cents while in reality bargain shopping can be as simple as stopping for a few seconds to compare the prices of similar items. Of course, not all bargains are as immediately apparent and the prices aren’t always as disparate as was the case in my bell pepper dilemma but the principle remains true.
Sometimes, of course, the bargains show themselves without any work at all. Moments after grabbing the bell peppers I grabbed a one pound bag of carrots for $0.99. Only a few steps later, another bag of carrots caught my eye and after a quick glance I saw that it was a one pound bag of organic carrots for $0.88. Ten seconds and 11 cents? At just $39.60 per hour it is quite a come down from my bell pepper “wage” but I’ll take it.
So Dear Readers, do you figure out your savings per hour? If so, what was your best hourly wage?