Dec 19 2007

How I calculate my drugstore savings

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.

5 Responses to “How I calculate my drugstore savings”

  1. I get it! :-D

    I wish from the start I had done something like you have in your side bar to keep track of it all cuase thats just to cool. But that was like 8 months ago lol. I am thinking of starting the beg of the year to start afresh and start to track it all.
    How did you start that? A spreadsheet?

    I have a question about tracking ECb’s and OOP costs but cant form it into a question right now. It would make a whole paper full of rambling to get it out and I dont feel up to typing that much right now. LOL
    Maybe I will get it to it later if I rememeber.

    Have a Merry Christmas!!!

  2. I keep track of it all with each transaction and had thought about keeping a running total like you do, I just haven’t sat down and put it all together yet. I often say something cost $5 if it was $10 and I got $5 ECB, but I always use ECB’s to pay for my products so technically it was free, not $5. :) Normally the only thing I end up paying is tax which is less than $1 most times.
    I have been messing up at CVS lately though, but I was building up a ton of ECB’s so sometimes I just have to “waste” them. By “waste” I mean buy products that don’t give me ECB’s back.
    I am curious like Nichole – How do you keep it updated on your blog? is it a spreadsheet online, or do you update your sidebar each time you go to the store?

  3. I just posted about my first trip to Walgreens on my blog. I could use some pointers though!

  4. hahaha! well said, kacie.

  5. My husband and I have a running joke about paying for random things like fast food with our ECBs – “Do they accept ECBs?”

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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