Would You Lie to Your Wife to Save $1.29?

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Would You Lie to Your Wife to Save $1.29?

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It was Sunday evening, and my family and I were snuggling on the couch watching TV together. At 8:00 p.m., a full hour before her normal bedtime, my wife declared that she wasn't feeling well, and was going to bed. As I followed her upstairs to get my workout bag ready for the next morning, she asked if we had any Nyquil. I checked the usual place in our cabinet and found some, but it was expired.

By this time, my wife was coughing frequently and was obviously congested. She was definitely in need of some "nighttime sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fever, best sleep you ever got with a cold . . .medicine." As any loving husband who is constantly looking for ways to earn brownie points with his wife would do, I offered to run to the store and get some new stuff. At first she resisted, not wanting to make me go out into the cold at that point in the evening. However, it didn't take much to change her mind. 

On my way out of the bedroom she shouted after me, "And get the good stuff!"Would You Lie to Your Wife to Save $1.29?

By "the good stuff," she meant the name brand Nyquil. 

  • My wife is NOT a believer in generic medicines. 
  • She just doesn't believe they work as well. 
  • She doesn't like generic food products either. 

In some instances I agree with her, as some of them don't taste as good.  The difference is that I am willing to at least try anything generic to see how it tastes or works before deciding whether to purchase it consistently. My wife tends to dismiss generic items simply because they're, well, generic.

I got to the nearby Wal-Mart and headed to the pharmacy section. I quickly located the needed medicine, grabbed a package, and turned to leave. As I did so, the price caught my eye. I stopped, and faced the display again. 

  • A package of 12 Nyquil liquicaps was $4.27
  • Right next to it was a store brand nighttime cold medicine that contained 20 liquicaps, but it was only $2.98 
  • That's a savings of only $1.29 for the package, but there were more pills in the store brand package
  • For those comparative shoppers out there, that's about 36 cents per pill for the name brand compared to about 15 cents for the store brand. 

I picked up the two packages and found the list of active ingredients. As I suspected, they were exactly the same.

On that particular Sunday evening, at 8:23 p.m. just off of 55th Street NW in Rochester, MN, there was a war of wills going on inside my brain in the middle of the Wal-Mart pharmacy aisle. 

  • Do I pay more than double (per pill) and get the name brand medicine to appease my wife
  • Do I buy the less expensive store brand and get what I perceive to be the exact same medicine, only in a less fancy wrapper 

I grabbed the store brand and jogged to the checkout line before I changed my mind.

When I got home, I climbed the stairs, and entered our bedroom.  As I took the package out of the bag, my mind was racing as to what I was going to do next.  The room was dark, but my wife stirred and asked me to bring some water to take the medicine with.  I went into the bathroom and filled the cup on the counter with water.  Then, an idea raced through my mind.  It was just crazy enough that it might work.

Then I did the unthinkable.

I pulled the Nyquil cardboard box out of the garbage, emptied the expired medicine, and inserted the new generic liquicaps into the Nyquil box.  Bringing the box, and the water, I sat on the edge of the bed next to my wife and turned on the lamp.  I pretended to open the box, and pushed out two pills.  I handed them to my wife, whose eyes were only half open.  She took them, said thank you, and pulled the covers back over her. 

The next morning, as she was getting ready for work, she thanked me again for my excursion the previous evening and commented on how well she slept because of how the night time medicine had really "kicked in."  That evening, she again unknowingly took the generic medicine and went to bed.  A few days later, after she had fully recovered, I came clean and told her what I had done. 

She was a good sport about it and we had a good laugh.   I then commented something along the lines of her now realizing that generic medicines are just as good as the name brand, and we could buy them from now on.

I got the stare of death. 

Apparently, I haven't quite won that battle.......yet.

The next time we got together with friends I told this same story, and I got some good natured ribbing for being cheap.

  • Yes, I'm the guy who takes the shampoo bottle everyone else in my house is convinced is empty, turns it upside down, and does the "shake it until every last drop comes out" dance during my morning shower.
  • Yes, I'm the guy who digs tubes of toothpaste out of the garbage and makes them look like an accordion in order to squeeze out every last bit of tooth paste.

Those discarded, "empty" shampoo bottles and toothpaste tubes sometimes last me a week.  What kind of crazy things to you do to save money?  Would you lie to save $1.29? I would, every time.

 Related Links:

The Spender and the Saver   

Opposites Attract...or do They?

Save Your Marriage and Your Money

Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey out of Debt blog and is a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis very candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family.

Follow Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles

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  • Too funny Travis! I would have done the same thing, although I'm not sure I would have thought to slip the generic pills into the name brand box.

    I just went through something similar (minus the lying) with my six year old. Last month I bought generic brand kids multivitamins that were literally half the price of the name brand we were buying. My son whined, gagged, complained and moaned about taking those disgusting off-brand vitamins.

    Then a funny thing happened. I told him that if he felt that strongly about having the other brand of vitamins, he could pay for them out of his allowance. Wouldn't you know I haven't heard him complain since.

    I call it tough love. ;)

  • Travis,

    I am still laughing...Your wife is definitely a good sport about all of your cost-cutting techniques! Personally, I am a big fan of most generic products especially medicines. I think most work just as well as the name brand and usually cost half as much.

    I don't consider myself an "extreme couponer" however I have been known to veto grocery items in an effort to save the $1.00 off I would get using the coupon I don't have with me.

  • II probably wouldn't have done it. I do believe that generic meds and name brand meds are the same, but when my kids are sick I'm not risking a thing. And the lying.. nah.   It made for a funny story though!

  • I may not have done the lying part, but I would have gone for the generic.  I too believe most generic medications are equal to the more expensive brands.  I am glad your wife was a good sport about it.  I just wouldn't have thought to be so creative to put the generic stuff into the old package :-).  If I think about it, my insurance company will pay a good portion when I use a generic prescription but less if I use the name brand. If I have a prescription that I need to take regularly I order it on line, as my insurance company will cover 3 months worth for close to the same price, as a month would cost me if I went to the pharmacy.  I save on gas and time that way too.

  • Hi Jenny, that's an interesting story about your son....I've noticed the same thing about my kids in that they think harder about the "value" of something when it's their money that is in play.  When we take the kids to the movies, sometimes we buy popcorn/pop and sometimes we tell them that this time it's "just the movie."  They complain a bit about not getting snacks - but then we tell them that they are welcome to spend their own allowance if they want to get some.  When they see that a Medium soda is $4.00 they think twice about getting it - they both know full well how much a soda costs even at a gas station (which is STILL over priced).  Thanks for sharing your thoughts!  BTW, keep reading the comments, I'm going to address the lying part of this shortly.

  • Coach Suzanne, your comment about vetoing grocery items made me smile - it reminds me of the time I got to the grocery store without my list.  I was completely lost and didn't see the point of even trying to proceed as it would most definitely cause me to a.) buy stuff not on the list and b.) forget some of the stuff on the list.  So, I got back in my car, and drove back home just to get my list - effectively vetoing the entire grocery shopping event (even if just long enough to go get my list).  Thanks for your comment!

  • Hi Ashley, thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!  The thing about medication is....and I don't know for 100% that it's true,  I was once told that lots of medication is manufactured in the same plant, but they just switch the wrapper - and the wrapper determines the price.  Transporting myself back in time to when I worked in a major brand name cheese plant between years of college in the summer, I witnessed the same thing.  One minute we're making name brand cheese....the next minute a "generic" brand wrapper is put on the roll - same cheese.   This is what bounces around in my head everytime I'm comparing generic to name brand.  Now obviously this is not always the case as you can taste the difference in some food products but.....

    In any case, I think this is one of those debates that will be argued until the end of time.  :)  Thanks again for your comment - and please keep reading as I do plan to address the "lying" issue here shortly in a followup comment.

  • mdavis1964 - you bring up a great point about generic medicine - and my insurance is also in the camp of giving better benefits if generic medication is used.  They actually require me to order refills online too.  Thanks for sharing!

  • Ok, so a re-occurring theme here is a general finger wagging "shame on you" for the lying.    Yes I ignored her request, and yes I covered it up, and yes I admit that can certainly be described as dishonest and lying.

    I do tell you that as I was putting the generic medicine into the brand name wrapper,  I had every intention of coming clean to her eventually - and I did.  I admit that deception is no way to build a relationsihp, and I did apologize repeatedly.  From that point on, whenever I am going to purchase any item that could be purchased in either name brand form, or generic form I notify her of my intentions (if I'm the one going to purchase it).  If we're together, we make the decision together.  Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don't - but we always make the decison together.    So, the result of my experiment is a now more open and honest dialogue about using less expensive generic products.  While this particular instance was a savings of only $1.29, if you add up the money saved by using generic products over a long period of time, it can certainly accumulate.

    Does that mean the end justifies the means?  Absolutely not.  I do wish I had found a better way to develop that "give and take" dialogue with my wife.  Her reaction was very much a "Ha, Ha.....you lied to me to save $1.29.  You're such a dork.  Now, never do that again."  Followed by stare of death that I know means I got a free pass.  

    Lesson learned.   That stare of death is serious stuff.

  • Love it Travis! A few years ago we discovered that generic is the way to go.......ever since there has been no turning back....(p.s.- i would have done the same thing!)

  • Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Gregg!  Glad you liked the post and I certainly agree, there are a lot of great generic / store brand items out there.

  • I stare at my husband like that as well, but for some reason the stare of death doesn't work on him.  He stares back at me and we have a staring debut until someone turns away.

  • Very well done. But be careful. This can be an additive habit. Before you know it you will be cutting coupons and reading the circulars.

  • vwilson, I wish I could withstand the stare of death....but I can't.  :)  Thanks for adding  some humor to my evening!

  • Thanks for your comment, Steve, but it's too late for me.  I already do these activities....

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