Saturday, December 05, 2009

The More You Spend The More You Save

This evening, I caught the tail end of a Zale's commercial exclaiming,, "The more you spend the more you save."  Contrast that with, "A penny saved is a penny earned."  Neither actually makes any sense except for the fact that if you do save a penny on day 1, then on day 2, it is as if you earned a penny on day 1 though of course you didn't.  The Zale's ad is even stupider, which is troubling for it presumes (as is true for many people I fear) that people will be so seduced by the combination of the gratifying concept of spending -- don't we all love to spend? -- and the comforting concept of saving to rush to Zale's  to buy diamonds.  However, trust me, if you go by Ben Franklin's adage on day 1 you will have more money on day 2 than if you abide by Zale's.

At the Zale's web site linked to the title of this blog, you get a bit different version of this promotional scheme, namely "the more you buy the more you save."  Notice that these two claims are linguistically different.  We spend money to buy things.  However, what the web site offers is savings in proportion to how much you spend, not how many things you buy. 

According to Zale's, if you spend $250-$449, you save $25 dollars.  Clearly the smart shopper would spend just $250 and get thereby a 10% reduction.  If he or she were to spend $449. he or she would get a tiny bit more than 5%.  If he or she spends $500 to $999, he or she wold get $50 back, which offers the same percentage reduction/savings.

Offers scale upward from the lowest level of spending upward to a maximum of $1,000 if you spend $5,000 or more.  Notice that spending $5,000 gets you a savings of 25%.  Wow, what a deal!  The problem is that if you stayed out of Zale's and did not spend $250 there on day 1, you would still have $250 on day 2, but if you spend that $250, you would be down $225.  So, spending money at Zale's doesn't save you money unless you are determined to spend $250 and don't go to a store that gives you a better break.  In short, while a penny saved may not be a penny earned, a penny spent is definitely neither a penny earned nor a penny saved.

I am lucky.  My wife has never demanded or even hinted she wanted diamonds or any other kind of pricey jewelry.  I think I did once buy some pearl stud earrings in a fit of romantic fervor,  but that would have been a long time ago.  I suggest to men that they flee from any woman who really, really wants jewelry, other than, say, an engagement ring.  My wife and I got married with no engagement ring and no wedding rings, but when we went to Scotland for a couple of months the next Summer, we had a craft jeweler make us matching wedding rings.  I suppose that made us legal.  It sure made my mother-in-law happier.  It is possible to spend money on other, probably more sensible things.

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Blogger Tad McIlwraith said...

Spending to save is known as spaving. Spaving is common enough a term to have its own entry in the urban dictionary. We try not to spave too much, but we do enjoy noting examples of it in advertizing too. The Zales commercial calls overt attention to the act of spaving. Is that rare in advertizing?

11:55 AM

Blogger Mrs. Geezerette said...

The adage "a penny saved is a penny earned" is outdated and only generally true. It makes more sense to me to say "A dollar saved is as good as $1.30 (taxes you know) earned." As I said, it is only generally true. If you buy, for instance, a $3 item on sale for $2, thus saving $1, when you do not need the item and will not use it, you have thrown away $2. A shopper with only half a brain knows that. And...it will take approx. $2.60 earned to make up for the loss.

A lot of online businesses are offering free shipping this holiday in order to entice you into buying from them. One in particular is L.L. Bean. (I like their clothing line.) They are offering free shipping if you purchase at least $75 worth of their products. Shipping costs run around $10. I had completed my order with them the other night confident I had surpassed the $75 mark by a few pennies. I was in a rush and so I hit the right buttons to send off my order only to discover at the same moment practically that actually I was shy a few pennies of the $75 mark. Darn it, anyway! My haste cost me $10. This brings to mind another adage: "Haste makes waste." But not always, come to think of it.

I tend to be practical, too, but I do own a few pieces of quality jewelry. Most of them were gifts from my husband who must think I am worth the occasional splurge. It is okay to be impractical now and then.

11:41 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Tad, the concept of increasing the percentage of savings in a store by increasing spending is surely common enough to warrant an entry in the urban dictionary. The Giant Eagle grocery chain offers discounts on gasoline and in-store purchases that increase with the level of spending. The former would typically be redeemed once or twice a month (I remember getting free gasoline once) and the latter every several months. The beauty of this from the store's perspective is that you spend, save, and then spend some more. Hilarious but we have been sucked in.

You're right, SusieQ, that free shipping is another example of spending to save. Amazon.com has a "Prime" product scheme whereby if you pay $70 or so per year, then any time you buy a Prime product, you get free shipping. That might or might not pay off. I probably won't check. One can add three or four others to one's account.

8:13 AM


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