About a week ago at the grocery store, the cashier handed me three coupons. Most of the time coupons are worthless to me. Some have too many contingencies, others are for something I would never buy, and still others are for stores or service providers that aren’t the best options in the first place. But I always take a quick look anyway and it turned out these coupons were amazing. One was $5 off a $30 total purchase, one was $3 off a $5 purchase of produce, and one was for a free pound of ground beef. I could use each one of these and they were for HEB, the best and cheapest grocery store in my area. Not only that, there were zero restrictions of any kind meaning they could all be used together. I barely had to modify my next shopping trip at all to take advantage of the more than $10 HEB had decided to hand me.
That opportunity fell into my lap but not all of them will. Sometimes it takes just a little bit of hunting. For example, when I set up this website earlier this week, I took one extra step before checking out. I googled “wordpress coupon code.” After trying a couple that didn’t work, I happened upon one that did and it saved me around $15. And just today, I got the notice that it’s time to renew the registration on my car. Here in Texas, an inspection is required as part of the process. The state sets the price of this inspection at $25.50 but just for the hell of it, I gave Google a shot at helping out again. Within seconds, I found a coupon for 25% off, saving me over $6 on this useless but mandatory service.
For those who are keeping score, that’s over $30 I’ve saved just this week – all on things I would have paid for anyway. Since I invested a total of no more than five minutes of extra effort in making this happen, that means I was paid more than $360 an hour for my “trouble.” As a bonus, our friends at the IRS haven’t found a way to tax money that isn’t spent yet, although I’m sure they’re working diligently on it. So that brings my hourly pay up to over $600 for these activities.
Taking advantage of opportunities like these may seem obvious and absolutely everyone has them but it’s amazing how many people don’t do so. I bet over half of the people who were handed those same coupons threw them out without even looking at them. I bet the same percentage or more don’t do a quick google check for coupon codes when they’re shopping online. And furthermore, I bet that many of these are the same people who claim they can’t afford to save for retirement or even for a rainy day.
I can easily afford those things and more. But a huge part of what got me here was taking advantage of the opportunities that were either in front of me or easy to find from where I was. I’m not talking about working my ass off to find more customers or to hammer out a deal that is both attractive to someone and profitable for me. I’m not even talking about spending ten minutes gathering up coupons and planning a shopping trip. That is more of a time investment than I am willing to make on that even though I do know people who make an excellent hourly rate doing it. I’m not talking about taking a girl out with a promotion that I have to use right in front of her or something else potentially embarrassing. I’m talking about the six-inch putt, the extra point (before they moved them back in the NFL), the gift that is available to anyone willing to simply unwrap it. I’m still taking advantage of these today and still will long after my net worth crosses from six figures to seven.
Folks, life is hard and sometimes opportunities are scarce or difficult to take advantage of. I’m not saying you shouldn’t fight hard because you are very unlikely to succeed if you don’t. I simply want to remind you not to neglect the easy stuff because it is there for the taking and often more profitable than you might expect.