Shopping

How to Build a Successful “Shopping Hierarchy”

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

How to Switch to Collecting Experiences Instead of Things

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 …

Categories: Psychology, Shopping

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 …

A Guide for Shopping at Less-Trustworthy Websites

I do a large portion of my shopping online, particularly when buying gifts. I’ll spend hours hunting around online for the perfect item or the best possible price on a particular item that I want. When it comes to the biggest websites – namely, Amazon – I feel comfortable shopping there. They’re quite secure and …

Categories: Shopping

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

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 …

Categories: 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

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 …

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 …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping