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. Comparing Amazon Grocery to Your Local Supermarket What’s Amazon Grocery? For those unaware, Amazon Grocery is a section …

Categories: Meals, Shopping

The Workstation Debate: 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

The Souvenir Debate

After an offhand mention of souvenirs recently, several people commented on the topic, indluding Cyde Weys, who left this one: And as for souvenirs while traveling, my solution is simple: I don’t buy them, period. Souvenirs are synonymous with schlock in my mind. I can return from a trip with the memory card in my …

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 …

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

Savings Bonds as Gifts for My Children: How Should I Handle Them?

Both of my children have received a pair of savings bonds as Christmas gifts this year. While the gift is wonderful and very much appreciated, I am considering cashing them in and putting that money straight into their college 529 account. Let’s look at the pros and cons of the choices. Why I Should Cash …

Categories: Family, Shopping

The Over-Gifting Relative

Each year, my grandmother gets me and my wife an exorbitantly expensive gift, usually something way out of her budget. One year, she managed to procure a small library of Kurt Vonnegut novels all signed and with individual notes inside in his handwriting. Another year, she managed to find me several pounds of fresh imported …

Categories: Family, Shopping

The Simple Dollar’s Wii Buying Guide for Christmas 2007

Usually, I don’t write about specific luxury goods, but over the last two weeks, I’ve received about twenty emails about buying a Wii as a Christmas gift, so it’s probably reasonable to expect that there are a lot of other readers out there with similar questions. If you’re completely not interested in a Wii this …

Categories: Shopping

Getting 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: Home and Life, Shopping

Great Gifts Under $10 I’d Love To See Under My Tree

When I started working on this post, I was trying to make a list of Christmas (or other winter holiday) gift ideas under $10 that would be great to give for family gift exchanges, as stocking stuffers, and so on. I easily made a list, but then I realized when I read through it that …

Maximizing Customer Loyalty Programs

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

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 …

Categories: Meals, Shopping

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, …

Categories: Frugality, Meals, Shopping