Shopping

The Variables of a Purchase

My biggest criteria for most of my purchases is simply price. What’s the best deal I can get on an ear of corn or on a book? The answer to that question usually pushes me towards the checkout line. Yet, quite often, I find myself not always going for the rock-bottom price on specific items. …

Categories: Shopping

Is Your Local Warehouse Store Worth Your While? Here’s How to Find Out

My wife and I have been members at Sam’s Club for years. We use it to buy tons of items in bulk – but over time, we’ve realized that some items simply aren’t cheaper there. While visiting, I’ve noticed the same trend with Costco as well – it’s got spectacular prices on some staples, but …

Ten Surprising Things I Like to Buy in Bulk

I’ve always been a fan of warehouse stores. On many, many items, you can get a great deal there if you’re willing to buy a large quantity of items at once. For a person with a lot of storage space and a family (like me), storage isn’t a problem, nor is using it up. People …

Categories: Shopping

The Power of the Chaperone

Ever notice how your shopping behaviors change depending on who you’re shopping with? I certainly have. I noticed this most thoroughly on three recent grocery shopping trips, which I’ll relate. My first shopping trip was entirely by myself. I went with a shopping list in hand, which I almost always do, and I stuck pretty …

Positive and Negative Advertisements

I don’t comment on advertisements very often, and when I do, it’s usually to skewer it, as I did with Hyundai’s “Dollars and Sense” ad campaign. Advertisements are designed to sell products, after all, and they use a lot of clever techniques to convince you to buy. Still, I couldn’t help but notice when several …

The Aldi Question: Does One Bad Experience Spoil the Soup?

Whenever I mention the grocery stores where I tend to shop, someone always asks me about Aldi. I tend to usually avoid that question because the answer makes me uncomfortable, but after several emails following my post yesterday about personal finance recommendations, I realized that it was actually a subject worth digging into. I don’t …

Categories: Psychology, Shopping

Why Buying Things on Sale is an Awful Way to Save

For years, I’ve been on a closed email list with a group of like-minded people who enjoy sharing internet links with amusing comments (think of an email version of fark or reddit). Lately, though, the list has been completely overrun by a group of about two or three people who have become completely obsessed with …

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 …

Categories: Shopping

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 …

Categories: Shopping

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 …

Categories: Coupons, Shopping

The Recession Diet

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 …

Categories: Food, Shopping

Amazon Grocery vs. 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 …

Categories: Groceries, Shopping

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. …

Categories: Shopping

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 …

Categories: Psychology, Shopping

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 …

Categories: Shopping

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 …

Categories: Christmas, Shopping

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 …

Categories: Shopping