As I’ve discussed numerous times before, I’m a frugal person. However, contrary to popular belief, being frugal doesn’t mean I’m cheap. It means I value bargains.
Cheap people hate to spend money. Frugal people hate to spend money on something that isn’t a good deal.
I would rather buy a $300 jacket for $100 in the summer than a $50 jacket for $50 in the winter. This isn’t just something I would do in theory — I’ve actually done this. Twice.
I will buy $30 worth of Schick Quattro replacement blades even when I don’t need them if they are on sale at a great price because I know I will need them eventually and it’ll cost me a lot more later. I do the same with deals on shampoo, deodorant, body wash, toothpaste and other toiletries.
In short, if it involves the exchanging of money, I do my darnedest to make sure I get the best deal possible. This philosophy of frugality has served me well over the years.
However, there is a drawback.
There is one area where “getting the best deal” is counterproductive to my well being. What is it?
Getting “the best deal” on food, nine times out of ten, results in buying more food than you need.
Think about it.
At movie theaters, you’re confronted with the reality that if you’re willing to pay just a nickel more, you can quadruple the size of your popcorn.
At restaurants with “all you can eat” buffet options, ordering a regular, normal-sized meal off the menu usually costs more than the buffet. And for those who do order the buffet, the need to “get your money’s worth” by overeating hovers over you.
At convenience stores, 12-ounce cans of soda barely cost less than 20-ounce bottles. At fast-food restaurants, ordering a sandwich/hamburger and a drink usually costs more than getting “a meal” and having unhealthy french fries added to your order. At grocery stores, “buy one get one free” deals are abundant (sometimes this is good, sometimes it’s not).
Now, most of these “food gotchas” don’t apply to me. I don’t get food or drinks at movie theaters. I stopped going to restaurants with all-you-can-eat buffets. I’ve stopped drinking soda. I’ve stopped eating fast food. And I take advantage of “buy one get one free” deals at the grocery when it’s for something I was going to buy anyway; otherwise, I ignore them.
Subway is killing my frugal brain.
Once or twice a week, I will get a Subway sandwich for lunch. When it comes to “fast” dining options that are also healthy, Subway’s tough to beat.
But here’s the problem. Right now, Subway has a special where any of there regular 12-inch sandwiches are $5. It’s a great deal…
If you usually order 12-inch sandwiches.
Not too long ago, it dawned on me that, just because I’m a guy, it doesn’t mean I had to order 12-inch sandwiches. A six-inch sandwich with half the calories could and should fill me up just fine. And so I made the switch. No more foot-long sandwiches.
The change saved me money (6-inch sandwiches cost less than 12-inch ones) and allowed me to turn an already healthy lunch into an even healthier one. All was right with the world.
But then came Subway’s “$5 foot long” special.
Including taxes, it costs me $4.82 for a 6-inch turkey sandwich at Subway. Basically, for just a quarter more, I could buy a 12-inch sandwich.
You have no idea how much it hurts my brain to know I’m not getting the best bang for my buck. I’ve tried to think of solutions.
“What if I order a 12-inch, only eat half, and then save the rest for dinner or lunch the following day?”
It works in theory, but I don’t want Subway twice in two days.
And so, I’m stuck. Stuck between choosing to eat healthy and not getting the best deal, and choosing to get the best deal and gorge myself.
I’m happy to say that, for once, my frugal self is losing the battle.