Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Today' Shopping

I went shopping today to stock up. I wrote sometime back that I don't use coupons, but I had an epiphany. If I have them, then I might as well use them.  All this was purchased for $60.71, plus I received a $5.00 off the next purchase coupon so that really makes it like $55.71. (Please excuse the grainy photo. I don't know why my photos look like this when posted via the Blogger app for my phone.)

I purchased 7 bottles of Wisk laundry detergent, 3 bottles of Clorox bleach, 2 bottles of Lysol toilet bowl cleaner, 4 jars of Kraft mayo, 4 bottles of Dove body wash, 10 cans of flavored almonds (for my dear husband), 12 Three Musketeers bars, 2 Reach toothbrushes, 4 body wash tools, 20 count flour tortillas, head of lettuce, tub of sour cream and 1 six count Handi Wipes.  (Whew!)

All items are regularly used/consumed items.  As a rule, I always stock up when prices are at their lowest.  Total coupon savings according to the receipt was $44.96 in addition to the store sales price savings of $42.78.  So that means if the items were not on sale and/or I did not use coupons, this shopping trip would have cost me $145.45! Now that's what I'm talking about!  I don't believe in using coupons just for the sake of using them, but when combined on top of sale prices, the savings make it worth the time to assemble and organize them.  Why didn't I think of it before??

Friday, July 8, 2011

Shopping Without Consequences

One spends a lifetime learning how to spend money.  There is no way out of it. In order to live, we are forced to spend money on food, clothing, shelter, transportation, the list goes on.  Commercials on TV are all about getting you to part with your money, whether it's for products or not. Even the PSAs are about spending your hard earned money for this cause or that.  And during a political season? Then it's about getting a candidate elected with the help of . . . your monetary contributions.  A lifetime of learned behavior is hard to give up, even if you try hard not to succumb to all of the temptations out there.  My trick to resisting the temptation to buy is to go "shopping" on Amazon.  Sounds weird, but it works for me.

You see, Amazon sells just about everything you can think of, and for the most part, the prices are cheaper than a brick and mortar establishment, due in part to the fact that they do not have the overhead to pay for a storefront.  I can search for items I'm coveting with the click of a button, and if I want it, I'll place it in the shopping cart.  But instead of checking out by paying for that item right away, I stop and just let the item sit in the cart saved under my account for months, or even years.  Why? This gives me a "cooling down period" to really determine if I really, really want an item, or if it's just a passing fancy on my part.  It also gives me the time to see if I can find it cheaper on Craigslist, eBay, or in a thrift store. 

For example, I have a serious weakness with books, but I hate going to the library to borrow them because I always forget to return them on time.  When the movie "The Other Boleyn Girl" came out, I wanted to buy all of Philippa Gregory's books then and there.  I placed them all in my shopping cart, and I was tempted to buy a couple of them right away, but I resisted.  And you know what? Over the last several years, I found a number of them at my local thrift store in almost mint condition for $1.99 each.  I figure just the books I have now would have cost me a couple of hundred bucks, but instead I paid around $10.00 for the lot. 

Over time, many of the items I thought I really wanted, turns out to have no lasting appeal.  I will then delete it from my shopping cart, and I'm no less poorer because I didn't buy anything.  Turns out, there is nothing out there one really, REALLY must have. Most of the things are a want, not a need, so for me, using Amazon to satisfy my immediate need to "buy that gizmo now" works.  It's fun to shop without having to face the consequence of forking over your money.  And being aware of what things cost on the retail level allows you to make an informed decision when you see a deal out there in a thrift store or some other venue.  That's spending your money wisely.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sticker Shock

The 4th of July is over. Independence Day is usually filled with a lot of noise after twilight, but this year, it was very quiet due to the almost total ban on fireworks sale.  We have been experiencing severe drought in Texas, and as a result, the only fireworks allowed were the big public displays.  Texans are pyromaniacs, and there are huge warehouse stores all over that only open for about 20 days out of the year (10 days before the 4th of July and before New Year's Eve).  This year, all they were allowed to sell were small  fireworks that don't shoot up.  I'm sure the businesses were hurting pretty bad. We passed by one such store yesterday afternoon, and there were absolutely no cars in the parking lot although they had an "open" sign.  I guess this is what you get when you put all your eggs in one basket. . .  But I digress.

On Saturday, my son wanted to go browse in a sporting goods store, so I took him to a big box store that moved into a bigger building recently.  I had not been in a retail establishment other than grocery stores in a long, long time, and boy did I get a dose of sticker shock!  $24.99 for an Under Armor shirt? Good grief!  WHO pays that kind of money?  But you know what? The store was PACKED. I could not believe how full the parking lot was.  You would think it was the week before Christmas! 

I realized how much my values had changed since I was younger, when I thought nothing of buying things even if they were not marked down one bit.   I can't imagine paying that kind of money for one lousy shirt!  Then I was looking around children's clothing, and it was not much better. A toddler T-shirt was $16.99!  Can you imagine how much clothing you could buy at a thrift store for that amount, even though they too have been raising prices?  Insanity, I tell you!

I realise the economy needs consumers to purchase things to keep the economic engine going, but my days of paying full price for anything is over.  I'll leave that to those people who has not seen the light of being frugal. . .