• Starting a Bulk-Buying Co-op with Your Friends, Family, and Neighbors

    One of the biggest knocks against warehouse stores like Sam’s Club and Costco is that you have to buy many items in large bulk quantities. The price per unit is low, but what exactly are you going to do with 36 rolls of toilet paper? While I personally don’t mind this (we have a ton …

  • A Clever Trick for Automatically Finding Deals You Want at Amazon

    Lately, I’ve been working on my Christmas shopping list, trying to get (way) ahead of the curve. I have a lot of great ideas in mind for the people around me, but I know that unless I’m diligent, the gifts will either wind up being too expensive or will simply slip through my fingers. Add …

  • Anticipation Buying

    Recently, my wife and I had some guests over to visit. While here, one of the guests used the restroom on the main floor of our home, where we have a large closet where we store supplies over the long haul. She observed that there were about twenty bars of soap, several bottles of Old …

  • The Recession Diet: Why Fears of Recession Might Trigger Poor Food Buying Decisions

    There was a fascinating article yesterday in the New York Times entitled Recession Diet Just One Way to Tighten Belt, which looked directly at the real-world ways consumers alter their spending at the retail level. In other words, the authors, Michael Barbaro and Eric Dash, actually went to a supermarket to watch and learn how …

  • Amazon Grocery: When Is It More Cost-Effective Than the Local Supermarket?

    Recently, I made an offhand mention that I’m a user of Amazon Grocery and this intrigued several commenters, so I thought I’d walk through the shopping process that leads me to using Amazon Grocery for some items. What’s Amazon Grocery? For those unaware, Amazon Grocery is a section of Amazon.com where one can buy most …

  • The Workstation Debate: Needs, Wants, and Making a Rational Purchase

    As I embark on a career as a full-time writer, I’ve come to discover that I truly need some sort of workstation on which to do my writing. My laptop (upon which every single post ever posted to The Simple Dollar was composed) works great for a couple one-to-two hour sessions a day, but for …

  • Misery is not Miserly: Breaking the Connection Between Spending and Sadness

    One of my readers recently alerted me to an interesting article at CNN.com entitled Why Sadness Can Blow Your Budget. The article discusses the “misery is not miserly” phenomenon, where people who are experiencing sadness tend to be much less in control of their personal spending, prone to splurges and poor consumer choices. Even more …

  • The Value of Customer Service

    In the wake of yesterday’s discussion about ING Direct and customer service, a fair number of readers wondered whether I am overvaluing customer service. I personally believe that good customer service is worth a premium on most items, from a bank account to an electronic device, and here’s why. In 2002, I purchased an iPod. …

  • Talking Myself Out Of Frivolous Purchases

    I’ll start off this time by relating a few tales of recent shopping excursions where I talked myself out of making some seriously frivolous purchases. A week before Christmas, I was at an electronics store searching for a shower radio for my sister-in-law. While wandering around, I went through the flat panel television section. As …

  • Zen and the Art of Item Replacement

    My family has only one television in the house, and it is primarily used for playing Wii games. It’s an enormous, extremely heavy old 32″ television, bought when I was in college and now approaching ten years old. In all four corners, the screen has begun to turn faintly blue, and it shows up particularly …

  • Chasing the “It” Toy At Christmastime

    In 1983, when my wife was just a little girl, she wanted a Cabbage Patch Kids doll for Christmas. Her parents were unable to find one, but her grandmother apparently bribed a shelf-stocker at a TG&Y in rural Iowa to grab a couple. In 1988, I desperately wanted the video game Super Mario Bros. 2 …

  • How To Maximize Customer Loyalty Programs – Even If You’ve Never Tried One

    Customer loyalty programs are those free programs a person can sign up for at a particular retailer than offers rewards of various kinds for spending certain amounts of money or making certain numbers of purchases. Although it can be a bit of a hassle to sign up the first time, afterwards it is an extremely …

  • Organic Foods and Frugality

    A few of my friends are big believers in buying organic produce. They basically won’t buy anything at all that’s not certified USDA Organic, and they claim loudly and repeatedly that this is really the only way to go if you care about your health. To me, it’s more a matter of personal preference than …

  • Stumbling on the Simple Things

    When I write on The Simple Dollar, I often write about tips and techniques that I’ve found useful for saving and investing money. I’ll talk about the big things – like always spending less than you earn – but I also list things like ten ways to avoid financially responsible buying. I have very little …

  • The Feeling You Get From A Coca-Cola Classic: How Advertising Tickles Your Wallet – And Five Ways To Fight It

    Whenever I hear that phrase the feeling you get from a Coca-Cola Classic, my tongue tingles a bit and I can’t help but think, “Man, an ice cold Coke in a glass bottle sounds good right now.” That ad works like a charm on me and it likely encouraged me to buy far more Coke …

  • 10 Simple Ways to Beat Impulse Buying

    About once a month as a Friday “bonus” post, I’m featuring an original article written by one of my favorite bloggers. This guest article was written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. The enemy of frugality and simplicity and your monthly budget is the impulse buy. We’ve all done it, of course, and it can …

  • The One Hour Project: Price Compare The Things You Buy Regularly

    This post is part of The One Hour Project, in which you can spend just one hour to put your finances in a better place without a big lifestyle change, through frugality or other financial choices. A while back, I mentioned how I build my own price book. While this is a great idea, for …

  • Getting Over The “Taboo” Of Generics And Store Brands

    Many Americans (including many of my friends) are conditioned by many years of marketing to select name brand products at the store. They’ll skip right by the generic rice puffs and buy the identical Rice Krispies for a dollar more per box. They’ll skip by the 100% store brand juice and pick up Juicy Juice, …

  • The Simple Dollar Gets A New Cell Phone – And Saves Significant Money In The Process

    Over the last week, my cell phone has slowly been dying. The screen goes black randomly and it ceases to accept button input until I remove the battery and re-insert it. This phenomenon has happened with more and more frequency as of late, reaching the point where it’s killed phone calls in the middle of …