Calculate the Real Cost of a Purchase

So often when we make purchases or other financial decision, we consider long and hard the assumed cost of an item without calculating the real cost of that item. There are all sorts of added costs that come in to play on most of the things we purchase.

For example, let’s say that you purchase a Swiffer WetJet system to mop your floors. It looks like a great deal, especially with a $5 off coupon. I absolutely love mine for sudden spills and quick touch ups. But when you purchase the system, realize that you will be continuously purchasing the refills for the solution and the cleaning pads. (Click here to learn how to make your own cleaning pads and how to rmake your own solution.)

Here are just some more of the examples of common purchases that have hidden costs.
The biggest one is all of the credit card fees and interest. The rule in our house is that we pay off our credit card purchases each month. Unless it is a dire emergency, we don’t put any purchases on the credit card, unless we have money in the back to cover it. This way, we don’t wind up paying $2,000 for a $500 purchase after all of the fees and interest are added.

Batteries and accessories

Toys are notorious for requiring additional purchases. When you are debating about buying a toy, consider how quickly it will eat through batteries or other supplies, such as special Color Wonder paper, beads, paint, game cartridges, etc. Also consider the road you may be going down if a toy comes in a series or requires lots of play pieces, such as the Rescue Heros, Thomas the Train, Little People, Barbie, etc.

Consider the energy costs on a purchase. A plasma television, for example, is said to use more energy in one day than a traditional television uses all month. Of course, technology is adapting, and their are ways to reduce this cost (See this article on vampire electronics), but you get the point.

Replacement costs

Consider replacement costs when you make a purchase. If you find that you are used to the item and now can’t live without it, you may be faced with the replacement cost. One example comes from our home. Our son was given a V-Smile video game system as a gift for his birthday. He loved it. We have since spent money on cartridges and controllers (see above). Recently it broke through no fault of his own or anyone else, lasting only two years. Now, we feel pressured to replace the system, even knowing that in two more years, we may have to do the same, as our daughter starts to play with it.

Mary Ann Romans writes about everything related to saving money in the Frugal Blog, technology in the Computing Blog, and creating a home in the Home Blog. You can read more of her articles by clicking here.

Related Articles:

Are You Sinking Your Ship?

What Did You Do Today that Was Frugal?

The Cheap Way to Use Your Swiffer

Vampire Electronics

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About Mary Ann Romans

Mary Ann Romans is a freelance writer, online content manager, wife and mother of three children. She lives in Pennsylvania in the middle of the woods but close enough to Target and Home Depot. The author of many magazine, newspaper and online articles, Mary Ann enjoys writing about almost any subject. "Writing gives me the opportunity to both learn interesting information, and to interact with wonderful people." Mary Ann has written more than 5,000 blogs for since she started back in December 2006. Contact her at maromans AT or visit her personal blog