If you’ve taken a look at my savings chart in my left sidebar, you’ll see that I like to keep a running total of my drugstore savings.
While it is my goal to display accurate numbers, I realize that mistakes could be made throughout the process.
I take a “cash flow” approach to determining my savings. Here’s what I mean.
Say, for instance, that CVS is running a special where if you buy cold medicine for $6, you’ll get $5 in extra care bucks for next time. (This scenario isn’t likely for meds, but just go with me on this).
I would have to pay $6 out of pocket for this transaction. Even though I have $5 to use next time, it would be wrong to say that the medicine cost $1. It didn’t–it cost $6. I had to pull $6 out of my pocket to pay for it, and took $6 out of my cash flow to do so. That’s $6 I won’t see again, unless I return the product for a refund.
In my savings chart, I would record that as $6 before savings, $6 after savings, and mention that I have $5 in extra care bucks.
However, if I paid the $6 for this transaction in extra care bucks–not U.S. currency, THEN I would call that item free. Total out of pocket would be $6 before savings, $0 after savings.
On some blogs, I’ve read people miscalculate their savings. They’ll say, “It cost $10, but since I earned $5 extra care bucks back, it’s like it only cost $5.” Never mind that they’ve actually taken $10 out of their cash budget to pay for this. You can’t pay your light bill with extra care bucks, after all.
I hope my explanation makes sense. If not, please let me know.