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Monday, March 5, 2012

Percentages vs Dollars

I was always good at figuring percentages back in grade school. Perhaps that is why I enjoy thinking in terms of percentages saved on this and that. I was encouraged in this habit by Andrew Tobias, author of the first personal finance book I ever read. Yes, the great Andrew Tobias who advised his readers to participate in the futures market by buying cases of tuna when it was 50% off. He noted--correctly--that that was a larger return than you could earn safely in an investment.

Today Big Lots had one of its sporadic 20% off everything sales. So exciting! I love Big Lots, where I find all sorts of organic foods and staples. I managed to miss the last two by being out of town on the special day.

So, I girded up my loins and went. I came back with all sorts of things even though I am on a no-stockpiling diet: Tazo chai tea, canned pumpkin, canned tomatoes, imported pasta, etc. I even bought a large box of Wheat Thins (an occasional treat for Mr. FS, who scarfs them down without any sort of control). The Wheat Thins were to distract Mr. FS from the fact that I had broken the no-stockpiling rule. It worked, too.

I noticed that my receipt added up to...DRUMROLL...around $20, which meant that I had saved....DRUMROLL...$5. 20% sounds so exciting. $5 not so much.

I feel somewhat deflated. All those little savings add up over the course of a year, but I now see that I need to think in terms of dollars as well as in terms of percentages.

Oh, here's the masterpiece by Andrew Tobias.


Duchesse said...

Nice to know there is someone else powerless over wheat thins. As for the tuna investment strategy, that assumes one wants to eat lots of tuna, and it has lousy liquidity. (I suppose you could barter it but that seems iffy.) You're great at not buying on sale *only* because it's a sale and you have strengthened my resolve on that front!

Anonymous said...

We stumbled across this sale next to one an antique store we were perusing, but did not go in. Observed many folks stocking up on paper goods. Like Tobias advises for tuna, we stockpiled coffee and peanut butter this winter.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--I think there's only room for one addict in a family. Not so great at it, btw, but I'm working on it.

@Terri--The two most important food groups in my home. I have lots also.

Shelley said...

I've not bought anything in bulk lately owing to being on the same use-it-up diet as you, but sadly also because I've not seen any really great sales lately. Prices over here just seem to be going up and up and up, so I have tended only to buy what I needed for the time being. Still have loads of tinned fruits and the freezer is still full of meat, but the pantry is starting to look...normal again. It just doesn't seem right somehow!