It Takes Money To Save Money

fertilizerIt takes money to make money.

It’s a common phrase you may have heard before. My interpretation of the phrase boils down to investing, whether it be in stocks or a business. If you have money, it gives you more options to be able to generate more money.   Over the weekend I found a similar but less known assertion to be true.

It takes money to save money.

One of the things that I had let go of while we were paying off our debt was our lawn care. I love having a lush green lawn, but achieving the look of a golf course fairway requires regular applications of fertilizer, weed killer as well as consistent watering. Some summers I started off well with the first application or two, but when it came time for the later applications the money just seemed better spent elsewhere. Other summers I didn’t even try.

Since we completed our debt management plan in January, my wife and I have agreed to budget the purchase of the 5 yard care applications during this spring, summer and fall.   So this weekend I headed to Home Depot to pick up the supplies for the first application.

I closed my eyes and took in the familiar smell of fertilizer as I entered the lawn care section and flashed back to great summer memories.   When I opened them, I focused on the display of the different brands of fertilizer. I quickly located the bags of Scotts products, the brand I’ve trusted for my entire adult life.   At that moment, I noticed two things:

  1. The first two applications were in stock
  2. If I bought the first two applications right now, I would save 20%

I threw both bags into my cart and headed for the checkout counter. Standing in line, I remembered that in years past I would be lucky if we could allocate the funds to buy one application, and would never have been able to afford two applications at the same time.

By having more funds available in our budget, I was actually able to save $21.

My very wise mother always says that it’s not a good sale if you buy something you weren’t planning on buying anyway. In this case I was going to eventually buy the second application, so buying it now not only saved me money, but it also ensures I have the product already sitting in my garage in a few weeks when I need to put it on my lawn.

It takes money to make money. It takes money to save money. This financial freedom thing gets better all the time.

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42 Responses to “It Takes Money To Save Money”

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  1. Jefferson says:

    Nice to hear that the snow finally melted and you guys can finally see your yard! 😛

    The cost of having a green lawn can really add up over the course of the year.. A good portion of my front yard ended up dying over the winter because of tree cover and leaves that weren’t raked up quickly enough.. I have spent a great deal of time and effort this spring trying to bring it back to life and it’s FINALLY getting there.. but creating a lush environment for growth has left me with a ton of weeds that are trying to sprout alongside all of that grass seed!

    Those products can get expensive so it is definitely a good idea to jump on a sale when you see one!

    • Travis says:

      When you really think about it though – especially with my usual “measuring stick” of value – the 5 applications will cost about $250. Once I get my lawn where I want it, $250 to have a lush green lawn is CHEAP in comparison to the enjoyment it gives me. I know that’s not true for everyone, but for me it certainly is. Thanks for stopping over, Jefferson!

  2. Sassy Mamaw says:

    Great point, Travis. The same thing occurred to me recently. When I was using credit cards for everything, I bought all my clothes at a certain high-end store, because I had their credit card. Now that I am using cash, I can ‘afford’ to shop at less expensive shops. We are saving money on the cost of the items, and saving the interest as well!

    • Travis says:

      Love your example, Sassy Mamaw – and I know exactly where you’re coming from. We used to shop at a certain clothing store because we had their card…and paying for it with the card was no money out of our pocket (at least until the bill came). We paid a ton of money for clothes because we didn’t have cash…..I Love this quote “Now that I am using cash, I can afford to shop at less expensive shops.” The irony and wisdom in that quote is mindblowing!

  3. I think another example of something like this is being able to pay for insulated windows or solar panels that have a large up front investment, but will save you money over time. (As long as you plan to stay at the property long enough for it to pay off).

  4. This is a great example of how deals can save you money on things you plan on buying anyway. On a side note, my lawn (and yard in general) is in very sorry shape. We bought a house whose yard had been neglected for years and years. I have a bunch of projects planned to make better use of the space and I can’t wait to get started! Now if only this rain will stop….

    • Travis says:

      LOL, I write this as I hear another downpour commence. Being the ever optimist, I will say this – at least it’s not snow, right??? You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get your lawn to come back with a little care…..good luck!

  5. Those two lines are absolutely correct. Having money allows for more opportunities and then you don’t have to scrutinize your purchase of the second application. It is great to hear that you saved money purchasing it.

    • Travis says:

      I saved $21!!! Just for throwing a second bag into my cart. I gotta admit, I felt good about the purchase. Now, as DC said, if only it would stop raining so I could put it on my lawn. LOL.

  6. Kathy says:

    We use this principle for everything from soda to toilet paper. When we find a great sale, we spend extra to buy more so when it is more expensive we don’t have to buy it at higher prices. We also do things like pay our lawn care company’s entire fee up front in Feb./March because they offer a 5% discount if paid in full. We were once like you described….lucky to afford just one part. But now it is so nice to write one check and have it paid for the whole year for less money.

    • JMK says:

      We also stock up when we find a great deal on something we use all the time, but only on some items. The problem that can come from a giant stockpile of products is that it can create a feeling of abundance, and encourage you to use more that you ordinarily would.
      In the case of Travis’ lawn products, there isn’t a risk of using more because it’s there – it’s just more likely the second job will get done on time. Also, while he didn’t mention it, he’s now also saving the gas of a return trip to the store (and the chance he’d be temped to buy other items while there).
      We very rarely buy snack foods but when we do, regardless of a great sale, we only buy one of whatever it is. Based on past experience, if the kids find two bags of chips or cookies in the cupboard they assume that not only can they have a treat, they can have more because “we have lots”. Some products can be consumed in larger quantities other aren’t. If vitamins are on sale I might stock up – we’re not going to start taking more than usual just because there is an extra bottle in the cupboard. If steak is on sale we’d have to be very carefull to keep it to a once a month treat rather than have it suddently become a twice a month meal just because it’s now in the freezer. Eating it twice as often completely cancels the savings of the sale. We eat a lot of cheese and it’s expensive. I refuse to pay full price for it, so I do stock up, and then hide the extras in a celery storage container (nobody will look there!)
      We’ve all stretched the last of something that was running out and conversely used a little more of some things when we can see there is plenty. I guess it’s just human nature, so the trick with really “saving” when stocking up is to maintain your normal consumption regardless how much of something you have on hand.

      • Travis says:

        The return trip use of Gas wouldn’t have been a big deal since Home Depot is right next to my workplace, JMK….BUT great point on the temptation to buy more stuff. I could spend all. freaking. day. in Home Depot. LOL. You mention my biggest issue with buying in bulk…..I tend to use MORE product because I have so much of it laying around. OR, it finds it’s way to the back of a cabinet in some weird display of gravity where it sits until it’s expired. 🙂

    • Travis says:

      I have a friend that used to do lawn service and he was very reasonable. I could get the 5 applications of commercial grade product for the same price as doing it myself…unfortunately he’s not doing it anymore. Just when I get to the point where I could pay him for the whole year upfront!!!

  7. I feel the same way about planting a garden this year. I just don’t want to put any money into something I’ll probably kill anyway, but glad you really like doing yard stuff and glad this year is so different from years past. It’s great to look back and see how far you have come, and that kind of ties to what I was talking about today with patience. Some things make feel like they take forever, but they are worth doing if you can take a step back and breathe.

    • Travis says:

      I Love (LOVE) working on my yard. I get some crazy inappropriate pleasure from looking out my great room window across my backyard and looking at a nice lush green lawn. I’m seriously giddy that I get to really take care of it this year. 🙂

  8. This is spot on Travis! With more money you have more opportunities, not that all should be taken but it’s nice to have the ability to take the ones you want. We regularly go through something like this and love it as it allows us to stretch our budget further and still allow us to take said opportunity.

    • Travis says:

      With more opportunity comes great responsibility, right John? I just keep telling myself “It’s not a sale if it makes you buy something you weren’t going to buy anyway….”

  9. Excellent observation Travis! I think one reason it can be challenging to get ahead financially is that, the tighter the money, the less one can take advantage of opportunities. With no credit or savings, for example, I might have to buy an old, used car when mine finally gives out, setting myself up for costly, ongoing repairs. Frustrating to be poor!

  10. “It takes money to make money. It takes money to save money. This financial freedom thing gets better all the time.” Love that – Travis! And now that you have money and are using it on the things that truly matter and you enjoy – that’s the sweet spot, for sure!

    • Travis says:

      It certainly feels good, Shannon – and I’m glad that it’s rather little things that we’re finding enjoyment in – taking care of our lawn, spending a little extra on groceries, and paying all our bills without a worry of them being late. I don’t need new cars, or expensive things….just some little extras to make life comfortable and a little more enjoyable. Sweet spot….YES!

  11. My lawn hasn’t see fertilizer in a number of years, just hasn’t been in the budget. My lawn might be in shock next summer when we are debt free! 🙂

  12. It definitely helps a lot to have the money available to take advantage of sales. I was just talking to my husband about the weeds in our yard. We have a ton. Any tips on getting rid of them?

    • Travis says:

      The best way to get rid of weeds is a two pronged approach:

      1.) weed killer (usually two applications – during the summer…the first one in Late May)
      2.) fertilizer
      3.) consistent watering

      #1 will kill the weeds, #2 will encourage grass growth. #2 is more important than you think….if your lawn is nice and think and healthy, the weeds have nowhere to grow. You also have do #3 because otherwise your grass will go dormant and the weeds will come back.

  13. Michelle says:

    You can totally apply this to savings or retirement accounts you open. The more money you can spare to put in the account, the better interest or return rate. We’re actually working on stockpiling money so I can rollover my 403b to Vanguard when I leave my full time job.

    • Travis says:

      Definitely true, Michelle! With increased contributions and time, the effect is magnified over the course of decades of retirement planning. Great to have you stop by!

  14. Great post and example, Travis! Sometimes I am tempted to go cheap on certain things, but find myself rewarded by making the smarter choice in the long run. It may not be a financial reward, but in terms of longevity or efficacy.

    • Travis says:

      For four and a half years we were concentrating on just getting to the next paycheck…it’s nice to be able to have the ability to look ahead and see what’s best for the weeks/months/years ahead. Great to have you stop by, Sherrian!

  15. Kim says:

    That is such a good feeling. I remember when we were paying off our credit cards and the grocery we use most was offering a promo for buying store gift cards. If you bought $500 you got an extra $20 or $1000 with an extra $100. That was 10% in free groceries, but we were unable to take advantage. You can also get better deals when you are able to pay upfront instead of finance in many cases. Being in debt limits your choices and opportunities tremendously.

    • Travis says:

      I’ve seen restaurants do the same thing – especially around the holidays. If you buy $100 gift card you’d get an extra $20. That’s a nice incentive to buy some for yourself……but you have to have the money to do it! thanks for dropping in, Kim!

  16. Liz says:

    I like your point here. Sometimes you need a little extra money to save more money. I have a similar example with recently purchasing a museum membership. It was more money upfront, but our subsequent visits to the museum will be much cheaper.. We only need to go one more time to get our money’s worth and right now we are planning on going atleast two more times!

    • Travis says:

      We have the same deal with our state zoo – a season pass costs more upfront, but if you use it, it’s much cheaper to buy the season pass at the beginning of the year. But again, you have to have the funds to pay for it. Thanks for sharing, Liz!

  17. Great insight, Travis! The concept of buying something now that you planned to use later because it’s a better deal seems like an obvious one, but I often struggle with it. If I’m not ready to use it, it’s possible I haven’t committed to the idea of buying it. For example, I’m considering doing a month-long detox which includes two protein shakes per day. The grocery store I shop at is currently offering 25% off all protein powders, and one brand has a manufacturer’s coupon for an additional $3 off. If I do this, I should take advantage of these deals for the best price, but I haven’t committed yet so I’m just not sure!

    • Travis says:

      Sounds like you need to first make the decision as to whether to do it first…..if no, don’t by any. If so, go ALL IN! 🙂 Great to hear from you Kendal!

  18. I have often wondered, “How will we do things differently once we’re out of debt?” And since you’re a few steps ahead of us on this debt-reduction journey, I feel like I get a bit of a preview when you write posts like this. I have been in several situations where I’ve thought it was ironic that I had to lose out on a deal because of a restricted budget. But I think we set ourselves up to learn a lot when living by a strict budget – and you’ve pointed out one such example: It takes money to save money. (Thanks for the new link. It worked : )

    • Travis says:

      It seems unfair that it takes MORE resources to save money, it’s strange how things work out that way. But from a business perspective it makes sense – they can discount the larger purchase because they offset the savings by volume of sales (I would guess). Looking forward to the day when you’ve caught up those few steps on your journey!

  19. totally agree that it takes money to save money, just like investing a business or buying a rental property even if the smaller business really takes a money. My friend is planning to franchise an ice cream company, but now she’s doing a more research about that.

    • Travis says:

      oooh, Ice cream…sounds like it may be a great business venture in the right location, Marie. That’s a good example of “it takes money to make money” – if you have the money to invest, you can make it grow through a business. Thanks for reading!

  20. Great savings! You’re right – it’s only a great sale if you were going to buy the products/services anyway!

    • Travis says:

      My mother is a wise woman, Lisa…I always chuckle a little bit when I remember that phrase – because when she first said it to me (when I was very young) I remember rolling my eyes at her. LOL.

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