• 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 …

  • It’s Never Cheaper to Buy Two: 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • The Ultimate Guide to Amazon Coupons and Discounts

    Well, “ultimate” might be a bit of hyperbole, but I thought it would be useful to collect together all of the things I’ve learned about saving money on Amazon.com in one place. If you ever buy items at Amazon, you might find some of these tactics to be useful. It will prove difficult to find …

  • The $120 T-Shirt

    A reader pointed me towards this listing for a $120 t-shirt sold by Kanye West and French clothing seller A.P.C. This is just one item among several from them, including such items as a $250 hoodie. My first reaction was to laugh a bit. A $120 plain white t-shirt? Seriously? I can get a low-cost …

  • Using the Decoy Effect to Your Advantage

    First, let’s talk about what the decoy effect is: The decoy effect is the phenomenon whereby consumers will tend to have a specific change in preference between two options when also presented with a third option that is asymmetrically dominated. An option is asymmetrically dominated when it is inferior in all respects to one option; …

  • Curbing Online Spending Impulses

    My biggest spending weakness is online spending. And it’s not even close. I have essentially completely conquered my spending impulses when I’m out and about in stores. I simply don’t buy stuff on a whim when I’m in a store. I stick to my list like glue, find the stuff I need, and get out. …

  • Bulk Buying versus Clutter

    I’m an enormous fan of buying many things in bulk. I make no bones about it. You can save a lot of money if you buy nonperishables in bulk as well as if you bulk buy perishables that you’re sure to use up. The challenge is that if you’re buying quite a few different things …

  • Do Amazon Mail Order Subscriptions Save Money?

    When I buy household products, I look at the cost per unit before everything else. I try to figure out the cost per ounce, the cost per bag, and so on whenever I examine an item. Usually, my comparisons end up looking at the cost of the item at our local warehouse club versus the …

  • Does Amazon Prime Actually Save Money?

    Charlie wrote in with an interesting question. I wanted to see if you could run the numbers on this. My family is considering signing up for a year of Amazon Prime for $80. I can see a lot of situations where it would save us a little bit of money, but I don’t know if …

  • Stop Justifying Your Spending Yes’s

    Imagine, for a moment, that you’re standing in a store. You’re holding an item you want in your hand. As you look at that item, thoughts are running through your head. Usually, you’ve already decided whether or not to buy the item. Usually, you’re just trying to reinforce the decision you’ve already essentially made. If …

  • Online Buying, Impulse Control, and Amazon.com

    Recently, I listened to a story on NPR (for the life of me, I can’t find a link to it on their website) where developers at Amazon.com were discussing their goal in shaving seconds off of the time it takes for a person to come to their site with a desire in their head and …

  • Overcoming the Power of Branding and Brand Preferences

    “Having preferences means having weaknesses.” – Magnus Carlsen, currently the number one rated chess player in the world Thanks to Adria Richards for the picture Over the years, Sarah and I have relied on Cascade Complete to get our dishes clean. We’d tried a lot of different dishwashing detergents, particularly when we were first living …

  • How to Find Good Stuff at Goodwill (and Other Secondhand Stores)

    I’ve mentioned quite often that I tend to shop at Goodwill/consignment shops/secondhand stores for various items. Whenever I mention this, I tend to get a bunch of responses along the lines of this message from Tessa: How do you find anything good at Goodwill? Whenever I go into one, all I find is a lot …