Shopping

Grocery Shopping 101

One common trap with buying in bulk is the fact that on some products, the higher volume version often has a higher cost per unit than the smaller version. For example, I recently spied two cans of tuna on the shelf at my local grocery store. The same brand (Starkist) featured a 5 ounce can …

Categories: Shopping

Major Purchases and Your Specific Life Situation

When I turned sixteen, I had roughly $1,000 saved up with which to buy a car. Obviously, my biggest concern was what is the cheapest thing that can get me on the road? Reliability wasn’t a concern at all – I mostly wanted it to drive back and forth to school and to some extracurricular …

Categories: Frugality, Shopping

The Reliability Bell Curve

In a recent post about up front spending, quite a few people mentioned their anecdotes about buying a cheap washing machine and having it last for many years – and then used that as a justification to ignore reliability data when making a purchase and instead go for the cheap item. Let’s explore that idea …

Categories: Shopping

The Logic of Up-Front Spending

I tend to be an advocate of spending more up front on a large purchase if that purchase will have lower maintenance costs. For example, if I’m buying a car, I’ll spend more on one that has great gas mileage than an equivalent one with poor mileage (which is part of why we bought a …

How to Create a Deal-Finding Homepage

I love keeping an eye out for bargains. I’m the type of person who will come up with Christmas present ideas for people in March and spend nine months sitting on that idea, waiting for the right price to come along. I won’t hesitate in the least to jump on obviously exceptional bargains in areas …

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 …

Overspending on Gifts? 6 Things to Think About

One of my readers related a story to me over a long conversation that, rather than posting a bunch of long quotes, I’m going to paraphrase. This reader, who we’ll call Maggie, receives an over-the-top lavish gift from her great aunt each year. Her aunt loves buying the perfect gift for everyone in her family …

Categories: 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

The Gift Card Dilemma(s)

A few days ago, on the very day I pledged to reduce my personal book buying budget to $0 for the coming year, a little surprise came in the mail: a $25 gift card. To a bookstore. Ordinarily, this kind of thing is just something to laugh off and not worry about, but the whole …

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 …

Gifts That Matter Don’t Come From Wal-Mart

… they come from the heart. In most of our lives, there seems to be a never-ending string of gift giving occasions – birthdays, graduations, baby showers, wedding showers, and so on. That often means a never-ending string of gifts to give, and because we’re all so busy and harried, it’s often easier just to …

Categories: 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: Meals, Shopping