Shopping

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; …

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

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 …

Categories: Shopping

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 …

Categories: Shopping

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 …

Categories: Shopping

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 …

Giving Gifts That Can’t Be Bought on Black Friday

Two Christmases ago, Sarah and I gave almost everyone we know gifts that we made ourselves, from scratch. It was the single most fulfilling Christmas either one of us has had in a very long time. The fulfillment didn’t come as a result of the savings, although our financial cost for that Christmas gift-giving season …

Categories: Shopping

Six Simple Gifts to Make Between Now and Christmas

Two years ago, I ran a fall article series on homemade gifts, which I then gave out to relatives that Christmas. Naturally, some of the gifts were bigger hits than others. After the series was over, I gave some thought as to the amount of effort I put into the gifts in exchange for how …

Categories: Shopping

Overcoming the Power of Branding

“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 …

My Top Tactics for Reducing Online Shopping

I find it very easy to buy stuff online without adequate thought. I’ll click a few times and suddenly the item I want is on the way. I particularly struggle with three sites directly connected to three of my biggest hobbies: Amazon (for books), Cool Stuff Inc. (for board games), and Steam (for computer games …

Categories: Shopping

15 Shopping Rules of Thumb

I recently read a wonderful post over at The Technium containing twelve simple shopping rules of thumb for various products, mostly technology related. Some of them are great. A few of them are outdated. I find I use some of them myself; here are the ones I really find value in: Pay for RAM, not …

Need a Frugal Gift for Someone? Relieve Some of Their Pressure

In July, my wife and I are attending a wedding for a couple that we’re very close to. As that date approaches, the couple is pretty heavily involved in planning things – and they’re really beginning to realize how many little things there are to take care of. Meanwhile, there’s another couple that are close …

Some Thoughts on Product Placement

Please take a moment and watch this YouTube video before we get started. I’d embed it here, but the person who uploaded it has disallowed embedding of the video. If you’re unable to watch, the video is a series of clips from the movie Transformers, showing the absurd amount of product placement within the film …

Categories: Shopping

Cost and Quality

I’ll start this post out by showing you three chef’s knives from my kitchen. The top chef’s knife is a loose one that I picked up for $0.50 or so at a yard sale more than a decade ago – I’m unsure even what type it is. It’s serviceable, but it loses its edge fairly …

Categories: Shopping

Homemade Gifts

In our consumer driven world, its sometimes nice (and cheap) to get and give homemade gifts. Throughout the fall, I ran a series of posts on homemade gifts with enough lead time so that interested parties could make some of the gifts on their own if they so chose. I wanted to top off the …

Homemade Gift Series, Extra Edition: Photo Cubes

How to Make Decorative Photo Cubes This is a last-minute extra addition to the homemade gift series. Sarah and I have gone back and forth for a long while about whether to post this one in the series, but when we showed the items to several people as we were making them, the comments from …

The Egg Nog Dilemma

This past week, we spent quite a bit of time visiting Sarah’s parents. Her mother kindly bought several items that I would be able to eat or drink throughout the week in advance of our visit (yes, I actually like my mother in law!). One of the things she picked up for me was a …

Categories: Frugality, Meals, Shopping

Homemade Gift Series #10: Homemade Cookies and Gift Bundle

In the coming week, we’re going to be giving a few early small seasonal gifts to people, so with that in mind, we put the final finishing touches on our first gift basket, utilizing some of the items we already made. One component of many of our baskets this year is going to be cookies. …