Buying Online vs In-Store | When You Save The Most Money

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by on January 19, 2012

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Buying Online vs In-Store

Have you ever noticed that when buying online many prices are similar, if not better, than deals found in the store? Sometimes the store deal may be slightly better. But before you head out to the store for that next HOT deal, have you ever asked yourself is it worth it? Does that extra $.50 savings really save you money after you factor time, tax, and of course gas mileage?

I’ve been asking myself this question recently and it was eye opening to actually see what a simple drive to the store can cost to grab a HOT deal. Below is a chart that I created with examples of 4 different makes of cars with their listed Miles Per Gallon and the calculated cost of gas per mile for each car.

Cost-to-Drive-to-Grocery-St

For example, if you shop at your local Walmart which is 10 miles away from your house (20 miles round trip) and you drive a Dodge Grand Caravan, each trip will cost you $3.20 (10 miles x 2 = 20 miles round trip x $.16 cost per mile).

How Do You Decide Buying Online vs In the Store?

To get the most bang for your buck, and to make sure you are getting the best savings, you need to ask yourself if driving to the store is worth it.  Especially if you can get that same product for a similar price and FREE shipping online.

dollar drivingSo for example, let’s say that your local superstore has a sale on Huggies Diapers for $5.99 after coupons. Amazon has the same Huggies Diapers on sale for $6.99 – The Superstore is cheaper right? Not Necessarily.

Superstore:

Huggies Diapers $6.99
-$1 off coupon
=$5.99 + tax + $3.20 gas (from scenario above)
=You actually pay out of pocket $9.19 + tax, which may be closer to $10

Amazon:

Huggies Diapers $6.99 + FREE shipping with Amazon Prime (or $25 minimum purchase)
=You actually pay out of pocket $6.99

On the surface, the “superstore” seems like a better deal but when you take into account the cost of gas to drive to the local store, when purchased from Amazon you can save at least $2.20!

Now lets talk about Opportunity Cost:

Another factor to take into account, is the time that it takes you to drive to your local store.  Everybody has to put a value to what their time is worth, whether you work full time or if you are a stay at home mom.  It is called opportunity cost.  You have to ask yourself what else could you be doing or how much money could you be making instead of driving to the local store to get that one HOT Deal.

You can use this rule for many things other than just going to the grocery store like the cost of a trip (Fly vs Drive), cost to go to your favorite restaurant, cost to drive to work versus carpooling, etc.

Of course this is just one more factor on your savings journey – always buying online or in the store is not the answer. Weigh your options with each situation so that you can make sure you save the most with each purchase.

Guest Post by Ben Hurst an entrepreneur, project manager, marketer, and the other half of Saving Cents with Sense.

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  • KarinaHouse

    Good thoughts. Thanks for posting the chart – it puts things into perspective.

  • KarinaHouse

    Good thoughts. Thanks for posting the chart – it puts things into perspective.

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  • I agree with Karina….when broken down in black and white it is definately a wide eye opener. I’ve been sick lately and done quite of bit of online shopping and cringing over the extra money I was spending and to think that I was actually saving money. Thanks for this heads up!!!!

  • I agree with Karina….when broken down in black and white it is definately a wide eye opener. I’ve been sick lately and done quite of bit of online shopping and cringing over the extra money I was spending and to think that I was actually saving money. Thanks for this heads up!!!!

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  • Dale

    great chart. Makes me want to sale my car and buy EVERYTHING on-line…..

  • Dale

    great chart. Makes me want to sale my car and buy EVERYTHING on-line…..

  • So glad that it is helpful! (And hope you are better now!)

  • So glad that it is helpful! (And hope you are better now!)

  • Glad you enjoy it! Let me know if you need help finding certain items online. :)

  • Glad you enjoy it! Let me know if you need help finding certain items online. :)

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