Shopping

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Free Kid’s Clothes

In 2009, I had my first child, a girl I named Lydia Rose. She was beautiful and dainty just like a baby doll, and I loved dressing her up in cute little outfits and taking all kinds of pictures. Unfortunately, those first few years turned out to be expensive. Since I wasn’t all that frugal …

Buying It for Life Versus Buying Ultra-Cheap

I’m a big believer in a “buy it for life” philosophy. If you can buy a single item and it will last you for a very, very long time, then you have no need to buy replacements. I’d like to think that many of the household items I own – cast iron pots, well-made knives, …

Categories: Shopping

30 Great Gifts for $5 (or Less!)

Gift-giving can be an expensive proposition. Most of the ideas that tend to pop into people’s minds when it comes to exchanging gifts are expensive ones – or, at least ones that add up to a lot if you have to buy many of them. That doesn’t have to be the case. There are a …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping

Christmas in July

The average American family spends $749.51 on Christmas gifts. That’s a painful amount – it’s approximately 2% of the annual take-home income of an American family. As I’m writing this, Christmas is five months away. For me, that means it’s time to start planning. After all, if you know an event is coming in the …

Categories: Home and Life, Shopping

Shop Smart Using The “Shopping Hierarchy” Method

Last month, I wrote a popular article for U.S. News and World Report about “shopping hierarchies.” Here’s how I defined “shopping hierarchy” in that article: However, there’s stronger strategy you can apply that affects the price of almost everything you buy. I call it the “shopping hierarchy” strategy. It’s a simple strategy: Whenever you go …

Categories: Shopping

Simplify Your Life: Stop Collecting and Start Experiencing

In the old apartment Sarah and I used to live in, I had one whole wall filled with books. The bookshelf stretched from the floor to the ceiling and from wall to wall and, frankly, it was overstuffed. That bookshelf wasn’t too surprising, though. I’ve been a voracious reader since my early childhood, reading more …

6 Tactics for Saving Big on Your Next Major Appliance Purchase

This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. It’s a big expense that everyone dreads. Your washing machine gives out. Your refrigerator fails. From what you can tell, the repair bill will be quite big and it will just help you to keep using an old appliance for a few more years. …

Categories: Shopping

The Little Perks You Pay Big For (That New Car Smell, For Example)

Several years ago, Car and Driver had an excellent article about how car companies put in a lot of extra effort to engineer the right “new car smell.” The goal? They want that smell to feel both exciting and comforting, encouraging the car buyer to both desire the smell when they’re shopping and to enjoy …

Creating a Problem Where None Exists

Recently, I was in a doctor’s office waiting for an appointment with my youngest son (who had a strange rash that he apparently contracted during a hike in the woods). As he sat at the kid’s table and played with a few toys, I flipped through a magazine. While browsing, I came across a brief …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping

Shopping and Tunnel Vision

One feature that Sarah and I have decided to add to our dream home is a “den” of sorts. This den would serve as a game room and a party room of sorts, plus it would be a place to house our board game collection, our book collection, and our remaining movie collection. As I’ve …

When to Skimp and When to Spend More for Quality

Two of the biggest principles of frugality often seem to point people in opposite directions. On one side, we have the idea of minimizing the amount you spend. It’s often a good goal to plan nutritious meals for the week with minimum expense, seek out needed household supplies at the lowest possible rate, reduce your …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping

Why “Buy One Get One” Sales Often Don’t Work

On the surface, a “buy one get one” sale sounds like a good deal. “I really want two shirts and if I buy one shirt, I can get the other one for free!” “I really want two games and if I buy one game, I can get the other one for 50% off!” Almost everyone …

Categories: Shopping

Why Thoughtful Presents Always Trump Expensive Ones

When I was younger, I worried quite a bit about the gifts that I needed to get for some of the people I cared most about in my life. I’d worry and worry about picking out an item that would really show exactly how much I cared for them. Inevitably, that meant spending quite a …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping

Use It Until It Breaks?

Jerry writes in: “I was reading on another blog about replacing things that work with better versions of the same item like clothes hangers. To me, it makes more sense to just keep using something until it actually breaks, then replace it, but that’s just my sense of wanting to get every last drop out …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping

Using Amazon Price-Matching to Save Money While Shopping

This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. The holiday shopping season is upon us and, for a lot of us, that means quite a lot of gift purchases. My holiday list is certainly long and, unfortunately, that means I’m going to be spending quite a bit of time and money fulfilling …

Categories: Shopping

A Gift That Matters

As we approach the gift-giving season for many families, with Hanukkah starting on November 28, Christmas on December 25, and more than a few families celebrating Christmas somewhere between Thanksgiving and New Years, I wanted to suggest a very thoughtful idea for the young ones in your life. If you have a young child that …

Categories: Home and Life, Shopping

Reader Tip Tuesday #6

As a freshman in college, you’re never quite sure exactly how much of everything you’re going to need to get through that first year away from home. As we’ve said many times, shopping for our kids without a strategy in mind is a surefire way to break the bank. And while college students can be …

The Art of Figuring Out “Bang for the Buck”

For me, frugality means figuring out which products do the job they’re supposed to do well, then finding those products for the lowest price. In other words, I’m always looking to maximize “bang for the buck.” For many products, the generic or store brand version works well. For other products, there are certain brands which …

Categories: Shopping

Reader Tip Tuesday #5

For any parent on a budget, back-to-school shopping can feel more like a back-to-school spending free-for-all. It’s the same every year. Teachers send out those foot-long lists of “required” and “recommended” supplies, and kids are eager not to be the only student who isn’t touting the latest and greatest backpack, lunchbox, pants, or pens on …