How to Spend: Go To The Source

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In college I worked for a quartz crystal company who started out as a distributor for another company. The manufacturer decided to take sales back in house, seemingly putting the distributor out of business. But the distributor continued to purchase from the original quartz crystal company. The original company offered discounts for large orders. The company I worked for took advantage of that fact.

I worked in shipping and receiving. My job was to receive shipments and take the original labels off the packaging. Then we took large orders of thousands of quartz crystals and repackage them into tens or hundreds of quartz crystals. As we did this, we undercut the original company’s pricing.

Most people don’t think about their purchases until they make them. Doing so may easily add a 40% surcharge to every purchase. That is the standard mark up from wholesale to retail. For many businesses, this is their entire business model.

I received the COVID vaccine this year. Suggestions were made to keep your vaccine card for the long haul. Now, they are suggesting people not laminate it because the CDC may suggest a regular booster shot.

Searching for a Vaccine card holder on found many vendors selling clear 4×3″ card protectors for $7 to $10 dollars in packs of one to three protectors. Often these had free shipping. However, that price seemed higher than it should be for a little bit of plastic.

Many of the listings said that they were made by “Specialist ID Company.” I was able to find this company directly on the Internet and found that they have several acceptable products, such as:

Shipping is $3.99, but shipping is free for orders over $50.

You can see how the Amazon resellers are making money. As a vendor, they are purchasing 153 of the card holders at $0.33 each with free shipping. Then they are selling them in packs of three for $7 to $10 dollars on Amazon. Assuming that their own postage is less than $3.99, they would make $103 to $256 in profit from the $50 purchase. There are hundreds of people competing for CDC vaccination card protection doing just that.

However as a consumer, you and I can save money by finding a source and purchasing directly from them.

Even purchasing 1 cards from Specialist ID only costs $4.32. Three cards would cost $4.98. For $7 to $10 dollars you could get 9 to 18 protection sleeves and outfit an entire office.

You may think it is silly to invest the time to save $5.02 on a purchase of $10, but I now spend money wisely without even thinking about it. The analysis for this purchase took less than two minutes of additional time and saved me 50%. My hourly rate for such savings would be $150 an hour.

I did this without thinking. It wasn’t until the next day that I considered, “That is an example of ‘How To Spend’ we haven’t covered in our series.” So I went back to recreate what I had done. These are the principles of the Millionaire next door and the FIRE movement. Imagine how much you could save if you cut all your expenses in half!

Featured photo made from screenshots of product page.

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President, CFP®, AIF®, AAMS®

David John Marotta is the Founder and President of Marotta Wealth Management. He played for the State Department chess team at age 11, graduated from Stanford, taught Computer and Information Science, and still loves math and strategy games. In addition to his financial writing, David is a co-author of The Haunting of Bob Cratchit.