Saving by Buying? How would that make sense?

How can you save money by spending money?  It seems pretty counterintuitive, but there are a few things I purchased in just the last week, that I expect will result in money savings in the long term.

1)  I got lured in by an Amazon deal.  I know that sounds like a bad idea, but in this case it’s going to play out in my favor.  Again this is taking a long term approach.  I bought Sanyo SEC-N16SETEVP eneloop Super Power Pack rechargeable batteries.  Between the game systems, cameras, and remote controls it seems like I’m buying batteries at least once a month.  This package should eliminate that.  I already own some of these eneloop batteries so I know how good they are.  However, I did not own enough to offset all of our needs.  Well, I will now.  And for $33.99 the payback period on these is probably only 6 months to a year given our battery usage.  In addition, I will be sending a lot fewer disposable batteries to the recycling bin!

2) I got gamed by PenFed.  As I’ve been ranting about this month, PenFed has been making me crazy with new rules on the Platinum Cash Rewards VISA.  Particularly, the idea of paying an annual fee annoyed the shit out of me and threatened to really eat into my 5% gas rewards.  So, I gave in and moved $1,000 over to PenFed from my Uncertainty Fund (AKA emergency fund) to open a 2 year money market certificate (AKA a CD) at 1% interest.  By doing so I avoid the annual fee AND I earn a higher rate of return on a small portion of my emergency fund.   So, in the short and long term this should pay off positively since my gas rewards will not be eroded and I’m getting decent interest on the CD.  Did I say decent interest?  1% is decent interest?  ARGH!  Oh well, that’s a different post I guess.

3) I bought AND successfully installed a toilet tank repair kit!  I am not a professional plumber.  I am not even an amateur plumber so this is a bit of a big deal for me.  There’s a toilet near my home office that has been running incessantly for about a month.  Many times during that month I have removed the lid and looked thoughtfully at the amazing engineering feat that is the modern toilet.  It overwhelmed me.  I would jiggle some parts, particularly a floating lever that seemed to control the water flow.  It always seemed to settle a bit too low to turn off the water.  My solution being the brilliant MBA that I am was to simply bend the rod so the balloon would raise the lever higher.  This worked well for about a day until the lever then starting flipping from side to side after a flush because I had bent it of course!  My next solution was to dump a cup of water into the tank after every flush.  This worked completely but was unsustainable due to the high level of annoyance it engendered in me.  So I finally caved and just bought the repair kit.  I avoided the kit and it’s absurd looking parts for at least 2 weekends because well I was clueless.  Finally I opened it up and voila!  There was a great set of instructions with diagrams and part labels.  I got to work and with a little help and only a little screaming and flooding was able to subdue the mighty beast in 2-3 hours.  My guess is this is a 15 minute job for a real plumber.  So my cost savings here is either a trickle because I spent $10 to eliminate a constant water leak or huge because I avoided having DW call a plumber or simply completely replacing the entire toilet (which she did mention).

So, there you have it.  Saving by buying.  What about you?  Any examples of potential long-term savings from any purchases this week?




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  • I’d really like to think that buying my way into a blogger convention will make me money in the long run, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be net negative for years after this…

    I did just buy some serious trail shoes for a long mud race I’m running next month. My philosophy with fitness is usually that it’s both good for the wallet and the body to use the right tool for the job, but before this race, I’d just used whatever shoes I had lying around that were on their way out. We’ll see how that one turns out.

    Oh, and I’m in the last trouble-shooting phases of building a desktop. I also believe that having a desktop is a long-term money-saver, because it means that you only need to consider one factor — portability — when you buy laptops. And, just like your toilet repair story, it comes with a bit of a feeling of DIY satisfaction 🙂

    • I only one pair of shoes. By that I mean I only wear Salomon cross trainers. I look on EMS and REI outlets for when they go on clearance then I buy a pair and stick it in the closet. I never have more than 2 new pairs in the closet. Slowly each pair goes from my primary shoes to my mowing shoes to my creek/fishing shoes. Right now I have 5 pairs sitting around in one of the stages. The last pair I actually bought last week for $53 on $130 shoes for $53 with free shipping. Another example of spending to save!

  • haha – I remember Mr PoP trying to figure out the new fangled toilet things the first time. Now he’s done so many of them he’s a pro – sadly they only seem to last about 5 years on average.

    Saving by buying recently? Mineral oil to refinish our wooden cutting board. The darned thing is as good as new from about 30 cents worth of mineral oil and some time spent sanding it down. Way better than shelling out $90 for a new one from the manufacturer.

    • Ooh that’s a good one. DW is paranoid about wooden cutting boards harboring bacteria so all ours are acrylic and plastic.

  • I went ahead and bought myself a few items from lulu lemon. My fellow PF bloggers can call me crazy but I’m tired of the holes in all my workout wear (which I also doubles as my work wardrobe when I’m in rehearsals for a new show). My last pair of pants were torn along the seem all the way to my crotch. (Not classy). So far lulu has served me very well.

    Also, quality running shoes. Not worth the injuries, especially with the marathon in 6 weeks.

    • Quality running shoes (often with insoles) are essential for long distance running. The long term health costs to your knees make it essential.

  • bitfs

    I cancelled my PenFed a week ago (as soon as I received my other visa in the mail) and switched over to the Chase Freedom Visa to go along with my Discover It card. I told them I thought it was hogwash to try to charge anyone $25 a year for the privilege of swiping their card and making them money every time. Greedy.

    • I can’t blame you. Year after year they strip the benefits from this card. As soon as they reduce the gas reward, this one is going in the drawer. I look to support credit unions when I can, but this one is on its last leg.

      • Mike

        I was going to cancel my PenFed card too. I’m guessing they lost a bunch of customers due to the the new requirements because when I called they told me the new requirement is opening a Money Market Savings account (which the rep called a glorified checking account) with a deposit of $25 and no direct deposit. So I’m keeping the card for now since it’s the only one I have with no foreign transaction fees, and I usually make a few large international purchases each year.

        Might want to update the blog post about that….

        • Ooh, that’s interesting news because I always assumed that was the point of the requirements – to make people switch.