Another Don’t Be a Mule Moment: Batteries

by David Bakke

From time to time, I try to look at some of the “smaller’ things in my financial life, and I try to find ways to save on them. Especially, purchases that I make on a regular basis. One thing that any parent should know is that whether it be your child’s birthday, Christmas, or any other gift-giving holiday, that a good supply of batteries is always a necessity.

Nothing is worse than a child tearing open a new gift, and wanting to play with it, only to be told that he/she needs to wait because there are no batteries.

On top of that, batteries are not cheap.  By any stretch of the imagination.

Therefore, I want to share with you a recent experience that I had with batteries, and then give you some general pointers on purchasing them.

Buy What You Need Beforehand

Whenever you buy a gift for your children, you should know whether or not the item requires batteries. We gave our son one of those work bench type things for Christmas last year.  He really loved it!  It came with a battery operated drill, all the screwdrivers you could ask for, a variety of other tools, and a few battery operated saws.  I had batteries on hand for the entire set up except for a little flashlight that came with the set.  It called for some button cell batteries, which is not one of the batteries that one would typically have on hand around the house..

I was unaware of this, so we had to put off getting the flashlight to work.  It was no big tragedy, because the rest of the workbench was fully functional.  I had never even heard of this type of battery before, so later on in the day, I went off to the drugstore to pick some up.  To my shock and surprise, these tiny little batteries came in packs of three at the store I went to for the wonderful price of almost $10!  For three little batteries.

Well, right away I decided that we could wait a little while longer before getting batteries to the flashlight.  This price just sounded a little too ridiculous.  I zipped back home, did a two minute search on the internet, and lo and behold, what did I find?   A pack of 10 for $2.88 shipped.

Battery Buying Tips

  • Always, always buy them on sale. They’re on sale just about all the time, plus you can usually find coupons for them too.  It is one of those fairly pricey things that you should always at least be able to find some kind of discount on.
  • Always, always buy in bulk.  Again, if you’re a parent, you are going to need lots of these for a long time coming.  I would never get less than a 24 pack or so of the AAs or the AAAs–the savings will definitely add up over time.
  • There are two sides to the “buy generic” or “buy quality” issue.  I won’t get into if there is a difference in quality or not, because I honestly have no idea.  Here is what I have come up with.  I usually tend to buy a combination of the two.  I buy the discount ones for my childrens’ toys.  I buy the high quality ones for emergency type uses—flashlights, battery operated radioes, smoke alarms, etc. Because if the “cheapies” don’t last as long, it’s less stressful if a toy stops working rather than a flashlight in a thunderstorm.  Plus, if your kids tend to leave their toys on all the time like mine do, you’ll be draining away less expensive batteries.


Buying batteries is a small issue in the grand scheme of things, but if you decide to change your mindset and adopt this new buying attitude, you’ll save yourself a good bit of money in the long run and it takes up no extra time from your daily life. And, by adopting this buying strategy into other areas of your life (i.e. groceries, sundries, other small purchases) you can save even more.

Got a comment on my words??  Please share!  I love feedback.

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