85% Savings on a Name Brand Product Purchase?! I’ve Outdone Myself.

by Shawanda Greene

Post image for 85% Savings on a Name Brand Product Purchase?! I’ve Outdone Myself.

I don’t know about you, but I really get excited when I’ve gotten a good deal. I’ll stop an uninterested stranger on the street to rave about a bargain. But fortunately, through the magic of the interwebs, there’s an audience who actually wants to hear the story.

You already know I meticulously planned my health care FSA (Flexible Spending Account) contributions for 2009. However, I’m still prone to procrastination. I don’t want to risk losing a single dollar of FSA money, so I scheduled an eye exam two weeks before the end of this year. A colleague recently wondered out loud how I can see through my glasses because the lenses are so scratched up.

Now, I haven’t tweaked this New Year’s resolution into a SMART goal yet, but I want to look prettier next year. Which means I’ll be wearing contacts more frequently. Glasses make my eyes look smaller.

Here’s how I used my own advice to get one of the biggest discounts of 2009.

My search began on PriceGrabber.com for 1-Day Acuvue Moist contact lenses. At $25 a box, Vision Direct didn’t offer the lowest price of all the vendors. I chose them because, unlike their competitors, they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. I’ve never purchased contact lenses on-line, and I want to be safe. After all, these are my eyes we’re talking about.

Once on Vision Direct’s web site, I noticed they offered an $18 discount for purchasing 8 or more boxes of contact lenses. Fine. I was going to order 10 boxes anyway.

Then, I scurried on over to RetailMeNot for a coupon to use on my Vision Direct order. There I found a 15% off promo code for new customers. At this point, 10 boxes of contact lenses cost $232. A 15% discount amounted to an additional $35 off. I scanned the other offers on RetailMeNot for a better bargain. There wasn’t one.

So far, the total net cost of these contact lenses are $199 after factoring in a $2.00 bullscat processing fee. I won’t complain too much.

Since contact lenses are qualified medical expenses, I paid for the entire purchase with an FSA Visa.

Recall the beauty of the FSA. Contributions are NOT subject to the following:

  • Federal income tax:  $50 savings at a 25% marginal tax rate
  • State income tax: $11 savings at a 5.5% marginal tax rate
  • Social Security and Medicare tax: $15 savings at a 7.65% tax rate

Oh, but that wasn’t enough.

Although it should’ve been the first place I looked, Bing offered 12% cash back on my brand of contact lenses purchased through Vision Direct. In order to get the cash back, I had to begin the ordering process through Bing’s cashback portal to qualify for the savings. Not a problem. It was a minor inconvenience for $30. I also checked Ebates, FatWallet and Coupon Cactus, but Bing’s 12% cash back trumped them all.

While marveling at my $129 savings, I noticed a $30 manufacturer’s rebate previously overlooked on Vision Direct’s web site. It’s an old school way of decreasing the net price of a purchase, but I’ll take it.

After all is said and done, I will have brought a $250 purchase down to $63. You’re probably thinking that’s only 75% off. Well, I could’ve bought the same thing at the most conveniently located eye doctor, made zero contributions to my FSA, and avoided the bargain hunt altogether. Many people don’t know any better. Even I’ve paid full price for corrective lenses. If I’d done that, the exact same contact lenses would’ve cost me $420.

The real savings are $357 or 85%.

There’s a strong likelihood I could’ve eked out a few more dollars of savings from this transaction, but I’m good. I’m satisfied with what I got.

What do you got? Have you identified any missed opportunities in my story?

Is there a particular bargain purchase you’re especially proud of? Do tell.

This blog post was featured in the Carnival of Money Stories: Happy Pseudo Boxing Day! edition at Canadian Personal Finance Blog.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel December 24, 2009 at 11:32 AM

I had to get a new camera, and decided on the Canon Powershot SD1200. It was selling for around $200 so I waited a few weeks until the prices dropped enough. Sure enough, Staples was selling it for $180 that came with a $50 Visa Check Card. Down to $130. A $30 off $150 coupon cost me $3.50 online. Down to $103.50. Then a Canon rebate (if you registered a camera in the past) gives me $20 back, which brought the price down to $80. Free shipping of course. $80 for a 10MP Canon camera? What a great day.

Of course, I accidentally selected the Staples gift card instead of the check card…but I was able to get a similar deal for my parents who were looking for a camera anyway, so I used that to pay, and they gave me the $50 cash instead. It all worked out great!


Shawanda December 28, 2009 at 6:22 PM

I love to hear stories like this! I've heard about people buying coupons on eBay, but I've never tried it for myself. It's almost like purchasing a stock option. Thanks for sharing your experience!


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