impulse shopping en-US 9 Simple Ways to Stop Impulse Buying <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-simple-ways-to-stop-impulse-buying" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman shopping" title="woman shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ah, the impulse purchase &mdash; that momentary thriller, that ruiner of budgets. The impulse buy is a nefarious beast. No matter how good we are at saving and living frugally, sometimes, it can be hard to resist that impulse purchase. But fear not! These nine strategies can help. (See also: <a href="">Is Instant Gratification Financially&nbsp;Responsible?</a>)</p> <h2>1. Follow the Time Rule</h2> <p>I&#39;ve seen this defined as something as small as the &quot;one hour rule&quot; and as big as the &quot;30 day rule,&quot; but the idea is the same &mdash; when you see something that you want, make yourself wait a certain amount of time before purchasing it. The longer you can go, the better.&nbsp;If you still strongly want to make the purchase at the end of the time period, only consider doing so then.</p> <h2>2. Don&#39;t Shop When&nbsp;Upset</h2> <p>It&#39;s easy to look for a product (whether it&#39;s food, clothing, or something else) to cheer you up when you&#39;re unhappy. One of my worst impulse purchases ever happened at a liquor store. While I was there picking up a bottle of wine for a friend&#39;s party, I recieved a call with some bad news. Now, I&#39;m a bit of a cocktail geek &mdash; if I&#39;m going to have a drink, I want to enjoy something with good, interesting ingredients &mdash; and in an effort to cheer myself up, I purchased three kinds of liqueurs I had been wanting to add to my bar. Oops.</p> <h2>3. Consider Changing How and Where You Shop</h2> <p>One of the things I love about shopping online is that it&#39;s much easier to ignore extraneous items &mdash; I go to Amazon, put what I need in my cart, and check out. But I know if&nbsp;I try on clothing in a store,&nbsp;I&#39;m much more likely to happen upon a dress that I suddenly really want. The solution? Except for groceries, pharmacy items, and thrift-store finds, I rarely&nbsp;shop in physical stores.</p> <h2>4. Don&#39;t Shop With the Wrong People</h2> <p>If you have impulse-happy shopping buddies, it can be easy to let them convince you that all the outfits you just tried on look greaaaat, and you should TOTALLY buy them. If you want to shop socially, do it with people who have also frugal spending habits (and if they happen to be able to tell you when a dress really looks great on you, well, all the better).</p> <h2>5. Give Yourself a Splurge Budget</h2> <p>You&#39;re much less likely to make big impulse purchases if you allow yourself some smaller discretionary spending.&nbsp;Whether it&#39;s budgeting for one new clothing item a month, allowing yourself a fancy coffee every now and again, or giving yourself spend-it-however-you-want cash, give yourself some room so you don&#39;t feel like a penny-pinching miser.</p> <h2>6.&nbsp;Only&nbsp;Buy Things You&nbsp;Can Return</h2> <p>If you really have a problem with impulse purchases, at the very least, buy from stores with good return policies. One impulse spender Nora wrote about made herself take a three-day &quot;Do I really need it?&quot; <a href="">cooling-off period</a> after a purchase, and then would return several items she bought.</p> <h2>7.&nbsp;Remember to Not Be Fooled by Sales</h2> <p>Sales with huge markdowns can make impulse purchases very tempting. I tend to think of products I&#39;ve bought on sale as falling into two categories &mdash; &quot;I really wanted this&quot; and &quot;Oh, I could use this!&quot; The trick is to only buy things in the first category. For years, half my shoe collection was made up of shoes I only sort of liked, but had found on sale. Remember, if you see a product on sale, you will always save more money if you don&#39;t buy it at all.</p> <h2>8. Keep a List of Things You Really Want or Need</h2> <p>That way, if you do see them <a href="">on sale</a>, you can buy them with confidence.</p> <h2>9. Don&#39;t Give Yourself Access to Your Money</h2> <p>Whether it&#39;s leaving your credit cards at home or <a href="">freezing them in a block of ice</a>, you can&#39;t make impulse purchases if you don&#39;t have the money to do so.</p> <p><em>How do you curb impulse spending?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="9 Simple Ways to Stop Impulse Buying" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Meg Favreau</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Shopping how to reign in spending impulse shopping patience Wed, 21 Mar 2012 10:00:24 +0000 Meg Favreau 913110 at The Case of the Martini: Is Instant Gratification Financially Responsible? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-case-of-the-martini-is-instant-gratification-financially-responsible" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="martini" title="martini" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Few people would deny that we've become (perhaps degenerated into) an instant-gratification society. If you click a button on your computer and don't get an instant response, you click it ten more times in frustration. Waiting in line is excruciating. Waiting for <em>anything </em>is excruciating. And since just about everybody has a smartphone, there's no excuse for a less-than-immediate response to our SMS/emails as we wander through this world <a href="">tethered to our devices</a>.</p> <p>But how does instant gratification translate to our finances, and managing them responsibly?</p> <p>More often than not, it doesn't translate so well. (See also: <a href="">The Frugal Balance: Staying Away From Financial Extremes</a>)</p> <h2>&quot;When I Want Something, I Get It&quot;</h2> <p>A friend of mine relayed a conversation he had with his date last New Year's Eve:</p> <p>Girl: &quot;Do you want a drink?&quot;</p> <p>Guy: &quot;I'd like a vodka martini, but I want to check first that they aren't going to charge me $35 for the vodka because it's New Year's Eve.&quot;</p> <p>Girl: &quot;That's the difference between you and me &mdash; when I want something, I get it!&quot;</p> <p>Initially, my friend found this inspiring and felt miserly with his price-conscious attitude. &ldquo;What a way to get what you want out of life!&rdquo; he exclaimed, in awe of his date's ability to squeeze the marrow out of life.</p> <p>Shortly thereafter however, he realized how alluringly deceptive this idea is.</p> <p>If you can afford to spend money at will, with nary a care about what you're spending on or how much you're paying, then by all means &mdash; go bananas.</p> <p>But most of us aren't in that situation. If you're reading this site, it's likely because you subscribe to the ideology of frugal living and agree that there are choices to be made about how we earn, spend, save, and manage our money.</p> <h2>What's It Worth to You?</h2> <p>Would you be happy to spend three times the regular price on a vodka martini because it's New Year's Eve? Or would you be just as happy to spend less and order a non-premium drink (or even two, or three)?</p> <p>More importantly &mdash; do you even take these things into consideration when you're in the moment?</p> <p>As much as my own bias is towards spending less &mdash; and spending consciously &mdash; I don't believe there is a clear-cut answer to the &ldquo;what's it worth to you&rdquo; question. I like sushi, and despite the fact that I <a href="">travel full-time for $17,000/year or less</a>, I'm willing to spend money on it (and make concessions elsewhere in my budget to ensure I can).</p> <p>The <em>personal</em> value of what we do, how we spend our time, what we buy, and who we keep company with is uniquely different for everybody.</p> <p>For some people, an overpriced vodka martini is the perfect way to &ldquo;splash out&rdquo; and truly celebrate New Year's Eve. As somebody who <a href="" target="_blank">collects life experiences</a> rather than &quot;<a href="">stuff</a>,&quot; this indulgence could be right up my alley.&nbsp;</p> <p>Where it can go horribly wrong is if I &ldquo;indulged&rdquo; every day. This is the inherent danger of the &ldquo;when I want something I get it&rdquo; mentality. Where does it end? How do you remain financially responsible in the face of this way of life?&nbsp;</p> <h2>Instant Gratification and Finance</h2> <p>Managing finances (and life, for that matter) is about balance. Sacrificing all enjoyment today in order to save money for tomorrow is a losing proposition, begging for an act of financial rebellion that destroys your progress in one fell swoop. (Or worse yet, a life lived in vigil for a future that may never come to pass).</p> <p>But ignoring our future needs in favor of wanton <a href="">impulsive spending</a> now (especially if it's on things that don't add some form of value to our lives) is also financially irresponsible.</p> <p>So how do we navigate the corridors of life &mdash; lined with instant-gratification incentives, and media messages that constantly tell us we aren't happy or hip if we don't spend more money <em>now</em> &mdash; and feel satisfied at the end of each day?</p> <p>Balancing outside influences with the chords in your heart that know what's important to you is a delicate exercise. And unfortunately, there's no right or wrong answer, nor a step-by-step guide to navigate this. That $35 vodka martini is an entirely personal decision, based on what is important to you in life, and what you're willing to &ldquo;sacrifice&rdquo; to have it.&nbsp;</p> <h2>When You Want Something, Do You Get It?</h2> <p>How conscious is your spending? Do you have your wallet out before you consider whether the money you're spending is adding value in some proportionate way to your life? Or do you keep your <a href="">credit cards in the freezer</a> and think long and hard before spending money?</p> <p><em>How do you balance instant and delayed gratification in your life and finances? And would you buy a $35 vodka martini because it's New Year's Eve? </em>&nbsp;</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Case of the Martini: Is Instant Gratification Financially Responsible? " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Lifestyle frugal balance impulse shopping instant gratification Mon, 12 Mar 2012 11:36:19 +0000 Nora Dunn 909852 at 10 Things You Do to Save Money That End Up Costing You More <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-things-you-do-to-save-money-that-end-up-costing-you-more" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Man with shopping bags" title="Man with shopping bags" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="150" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you heard of the expression &ldquo;Penny Wise, Pound Foolish?&rdquo; It&rsquo;s something I heard a lot growing up from my parents, and it can have multiple meanings:</p> <ol> <li>You are very careful with small amounts of money, but throw caution to the wind with large amounts. This is akin to someone who eats from the dollar menu every day but then blows a hundred dollars every month on a gym membership that&rsquo;s never used.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You do things to save money now, only to have those savings cost you more further down the road.</li> </ol> <p>The second definition is what I&rsquo;m focusing on today, because it&rsquo;s a lot easier to fall into the trap of saving money only to have it bite you later on. Here then are 10 ways that you may be doing to save money that could actually cost you a lot more in the weeks, months, or years to come. (See also: <a href="">The Case for Expensive Shoes</a>)</p> <p><img width="605" height="371" alt="" src="" /></p> <h3>1. Avoiding Regular Check-Ups With the Doctor, Dentist or Optician</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s something I did in college when money was tight. &ldquo;Ahh, who needs to pay money to a dentist to have him tell me I should floss more?&rdquo; Well, after leaving the dentist alone for a few years, I paid the price. Avoiding the regular cleanings and check-ups left me facing a hefty bill later on when I needed a bunch of costly fillings. I was lucky that I didn&rsquo;t need root canals or replacement teeth. Now I have a dental plan that covers free check-ups twice a year, but even if you don&rsquo;t, get to the dentist and doctor for health checks. It&rsquo;s a lot better to pay a co-pay now than pay for major surgery later on. And worse still, it could even cost you your life, especially as so many conditions can be treated if they&rsquo;re caught early enough.</p> <h3>2. Taking Store Credit Card Offers for Discounts, but Paying the Minimum</h3> <p>You are probably asked this all the time &mdash; &ldquo;Would you like to sign up for our credit card today and save 30% instantly on your purchase?&rdquo; It&rsquo;s a good deal, IF you actually pay off the credit card in full when you get the first statement. Sadly, when that first statement arrives, many people find it way to easy to avoid the pay-off amount and instead pay the much smaller minimum payment. Before long, you&rsquo;re paying the minimum every month, adding more to the store card, and you&rsquo;re suddenly a credit card revolver who is paying hefty interest charges. That initial 30% you saved can cost you so much more if you&rsquo;re not careful. Pay it late, just once, and you can add late fees and interest rate hikes to your burden.</p> <h3>3. Doing Your Own Taxes</h3> <p>Many people use software like TurboTax and TaxCut, and they do save a bunch on an accountant. These software programs are OK for very basic tax preparation. But if you have anything slightly more complex, it&rsquo;s well worth your time to hire a tax professional to file your return. These people are trained in the minutia of the lengthy tax codes, and they can find deductions are tax exemptions that you have no idea about. And while the software may be able to take these into consideration, you need to know what you can actually legally deduct before entering it. I have a tax accountant, she charges around $250 to prepare my taxes, and she has saved my thousands over the years. She asks questions that the software doesn&rsquo;t, and she knows how to get me the biggest possible refund. I would never trust tax software over her for my situation, despite the massive initial saving. And remember, tax preparation fees are also tax deductible the following year!</p> <h3>4. Building an Emergency Fund, but Not Contributing to a Retirement Plan</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s essential these days to have an <a href="">emergency fund</a>. The finance experts say you need six months to one year of expenses (although how anyone does that in this dire economy, with pay raises not meeting inflation and massive unemployment, is something of a miracle). But experts also agree that you need to look after your financial future, as you cannot rely on any kind of state pension. If you&rsquo;re squirreling away money now into an emergency fund or savings account, but you&rsquo;re not putting money into a 401(k), IRA, or other long-term savings plan, you&rsquo;re not prepared for something you know is coming &mdash; old age. And with compound interest being what it is, every day you put it off is thousands of dollars wasted. If your employer has a 401(k) match, that&rsquo;s also additional money you are throwing away. &nbsp;Be smart, think long term. Once you have that in place, by all means build your emergency fund.</p> <p><img width="605" height="385" alt="" src="" /></p> <h3>5. Buying the Cheapest Products to Save Money</h3> <p>I&rsquo;ve said it before, I&rsquo;ll say it again &mdash; buy cheap, buy twice. Now, being a Wise Bread blogger does not mean I don&rsquo;t like quality items; I just don&rsquo;t like to pay retail for them. Almost everything I buy is well below the <a href="">RRP or MSRP</a>, but it&rsquo;s usually a well-made product with a good rating. That goes for clothes, shoes, electronics, tools &mdash; you name it. However, if you buy a screwdriver set for $1 at a dollar store, or get your shoes for a few bucks at a flea market stall, the chances are you&rsquo;ll be buying them again real soon. Cheaply made, poor-quality items may save you a few bucks in the short term, but you&rsquo;ll only have to pay more later to replace them. And if you replace them with more cheap junk, you&rsquo;ll be repeating the cycle. You get what you pay for. The only time I would say that this is not true is buying generic brands in the grocery stores. In that case, you&rsquo;re usually buying the same product that&rsquo;s in the name-brand tin or packet but for half the price.&nbsp;</p> <h3>6. Putting No Money in the Parking Meter Because &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll Be Back Quick!&rdquo;&nbsp;</h3> <p>You may be a world-class speedy shopper or errand runner, but you just aren&rsquo;t that lucky. Sooner or later, and probably sooner, if you try and dodge the parking meters, you will get a ticket. These days, a parking ticket can run you anywhere from $10 to $50, depending on which city you live in. Is it worth gambling that 25 cents for a ticket?</p> <h3>7. Getting Suckered Into BOGO Deals and Other Sales</h3> <p><a href="">BOGO</a>, when it&rsquo;s genuine, is hard to resist. But even then, whether it&rsquo;s BOGO free or BOGO half price, you have to stop and ask yourself &ldquo;would I really have bought this much of this item at this price anyway?&rdquo; For instance, if you go to a store looking for jam, and you see BOGO free on jam, that&rsquo;s probably a great time to stock up. But if you&rsquo;re looking for a new pair of sneakers and see BOGO half off, stop and think. You went out looking to spend $60 on sneakers. Now you&rsquo;re spending about $100 after taxes. Did you even want two pairs? Will you wear them both? Do you even like the second pair you&rsquo;re buying? Sure, it can be a great deal, but if you really only want, and need, one pair, you should only buy one pair.</p> <p>Also, be careful when exploring the sales. It&rsquo;s easy to see those 75% off stickers and go crazy, thinking you&rsquo;re saving money. If you are planning to resell the item for a profit, go for it. But don&rsquo;t think that you&rsquo;ll get anything near full price for it somewhere else; there&rsquo;s a reason it&rsquo;s on sale. And if you are just tempted to buy it because it&rsquo;s cheap, ask yourself &quot;would I have bought this if it were more expensive?&quot; I see so many people <a href="">buying bargains that just gather dust in the basement</a>. And they would happily sell them for the price they paid just to have that money back.</p> <h3>8. Driving Miles and Miles for Cheaper Gas or Other Bargains</h3> <p>At the time of writing this article, the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.28. And the average vehicle MPG is around 23. That gives you around 7 miles for every dollar you spend on gas. <a href="">Do the math.</a> For example, if you want to put 10 gallons of gas in your car, and drive four miles out of your way to buy gas that is five cents cheaper per gallon, you have spent 57 cents to save 50 cents. And you&rsquo;ve wasted your time, put more wear on your tires, and used up oil life as well. True, it&rsquo;s not a lot, but in the grand scheme of things, it&rsquo;s just not worth it. I&rsquo;ve also talked to people who traveled 30-40 miles, one way, to buy something used from Craigslist. So right there, you&rsquo;re adding up to $10 to the cost of the item you&rsquo;re buying.</p> <p><img width="605" height="467" alt="" src="" /></p> <h3>9. Avoiding Routine Car Maintenance</h3> <p>Most of us use a car to get to work. It's something that we need to make money. It&rsquo;s also something that needs regular maintenance, just like your own body. But many of us like to save that money and do only the basics. We&rsquo;ll take it in for an oil change, run it through the car wash, and that&rsquo;s about it. Of course, then the time comes to get your next oil change, and the mechanic has to inform you that your tires are worn on one side because you didn&rsquo;t rotate them. Or you discover that little knocking sound you ignored needs a major repair. When it comes to cars, the old adage &ldquo;a stitch in time saves nine&rdquo; couldn&rsquo;t be more true. Take care of your car, and it will take care of you.</p> <h3>10. Buying Food in Bulk and Then Throwing Half of It Away</h3> <p>I&rsquo;m guilty of this one from time-to-time because bargains are so hard to pass up. When you see a whole bunch of bananas on sale for less than half the price, you grab them. But then you watch them turn black because you bought too many. I have lost count of the food items I have bought over my lifetime that I never got a chance to use. Ironically, when I was a poor student, it didn&rsquo;t happen. I would shop from day to day, buying fresh produce and cooking it that night. It would last two or three meals and then I&rsquo;d start again. The fridge was bare. These days, I have so much stuff in the fridge I don&rsquo;t know what&rsquo;s in there, and I think that&rsquo;s a big problem. We load up on cheap bulk items and then have no way of using it all. So, while buying in bulk is good for lots of things, be careful when buying perishables. It&rsquo;s not a bargain if you throw it away.</p> <p>Well, that&rsquo;s my top ten list, based on a lot of my own personal experiences. Do you have any stories of being penny wise, pound foolish? Chime in.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Things You Do to Save Money That End Up Costing You More" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living cheap health care impulse shopping Mistakes Thu, 05 Jan 2012 11:36:16 +0000 Paul Michael 854221 at Supermarket Shopping for Savers: 6 Ways to Avoid Their Tricky Traps <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/supermarket-shopping-for-savers-6-ways-to-avoid-their-tricky-traps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="market displays" title="market displays" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoPlainText">Going to the supermarket and sticking to a list is an exercise in discipline and requires fortitude and resilience of epic proportions. Employing tips like <em>&ldquo;don&rsquo;t shop when you&rsquo;re hungry&rdquo;</em>, <em>&ldquo;look for the no-name brand&rdquo;</em>, and <em>&ldquo;avoid the checkout counter displays&rdquo;</em> are simply damage control for an experience that (if you are like me) categorically breaks the budget.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">But most of us still need to shop, and supermarkets often offer the best prices and selection. In some cases, the supermarket is all we have. <strong>Here are six tips on how to get in and get out without going over your budget:</strong></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">Put Blinders On</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">Staple foods (like eggs and milk) are often located at the back of the store. And for good reason: the only way to get there is to walk through aisles upon aisles of temptation. If all you need is a quart of milk, then do not allow yourself to get sidetracked by an &ldquo;amazing deal&rdquo; (see below) on something you don&rsquo;t really need.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">Be Wary of Amazing Deals</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">Many people (myself included) look for sales, and will often formulate the week&rsquo;s menu accordingly. However the supermarket marketing gurus are on to us: when your eyes scan the shelves looking for the sale stickers, take a peek at the original price before you decide that it&rsquo;s a steal; you may find that the amazing deal is a discount of a whole whopping 8 cents. Now I&rsquo;m all for a deal, but 8 cents is not enough incentive to buy that can of corn for a dish I may not have otherwise used the corn for.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">That Special Display is Just for Show</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">The gondolas (displays at the end of each aisle, and racks of product hung where shelves join) and other special displays - be they seasonal promotions or just a mountain of cases of pop in the middle of the floor - are also tricky traps. You may automatically assume that they are featuring sale items, since they are prominently displayed and have a neon sign highlighting the price. Again, buyer beware: check the original price and compare it to other similar products. Often the items displayed on gondolas are actually more expensive, be they on sale or not. Only after some due diligence should you decide if that pretty pyramid of product is really meant to compliment your shopping cart.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">&ldquo;Complimentation&rdquo; &ndash; the Ultimate Distraction</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">Coffee or tea is on your list. And before you know it, a package of yummy-looking biscuits that are temptingly displayed next to the coffee and tea is also in your cart. Then you head for the pasta aisle, and walk out with an over-priced pesto sauce that simply looked too good to resist. Be wary of items which compliment each other that are positioned near one another in the supermarket. If you aren&rsquo;t the sort to rigidly stick to a list, complimentary items will jump off the shelves and into your cart before you know what happened.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">Watch the Checkout Like a Hawk</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">You may not remember the exact prices for everything that is in your cart, but you likely have a good idea of what you will be charged, especially if you picked up a few sale items and are proud of it. But upon reaching the checkout, you could well discover that those items you thought were on sale are not scanning through as such &ndash; either because the actual sale item was next to or below the one you picked up (a very sly maneuver on the part of grocery stores), or because the scanner codes were &ldquo;accidentally&rdquo; never adjusted.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">If there is a huge line up behind you and you don&rsquo;t want to cause a stir with the check-out clerk (who will likely have to call for assistance and stare belligerently at you while you both wait for somebody to run around the store doing price checks), then simply march your items and receipt up to customer service and politely point out the discrepancy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">Try a Cupboard Special</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">After reading this, are you angry at supermarkets for their little ploys and marketing decoys? Great! Skip your next scheduled trip to the supermarket! See what you can scrounge up from the dark corners of your cupboards or frost-bitten freezer, and get creative. Some of my best meals have been dubbed &ldquo;cupboard specials&rdquo;, making use of what I have on hand when supplies start to dwindle.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Does anybody have some <a href="" title="Supermarket Savings Guide">supermarket saving tips</a> of their own? Let&rsquo;s beat sneaky stores at their own game!</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Supermarket Shopping for Savers: 6 Ways to Avoid Their Tricky Traps" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Life Hacks Shopping budget grocery shopping grocery stores impulse shopping shopping lists supermarkets Mon, 29 Sep 2008 22:10:17 +0000 Nora Dunn 2470 at The Easiest Way to Save Money on Vacation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-easiest-way-to-save-money-on-vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="souvenirs" title="souvenirs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="424" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoPlainText">You are enjoying a sunny vacation on the beaches of Mexico. Some of the locals are wearing native garb, or at least peddling it. Vendors walk up and down the beaches selling their wares, from coconut shell jewelry, to crocheted sundresses, to key chains. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">You want something to remember this moment with. The smells of pina coladas and sun tan lotion, the feeling of the soft white sand, and the sound of gentle ocean waves splashing on the beach. Those crocheted sundresses are beautiful, and you’d look stunning in one. You could use it as a cover up at the beach, and you could also accessorize it up nicely for dressy-casual dinners. It’s perfect. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">You swear up and down that you’ll wear it at home too. That’s the reason you’re getting it of course – there are people everywhere down here wearing these beautiful garments – why wouldn’t you wow people at home with it too? </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">So after shelling out your precious pennies for the beautiful (read: tacky) sundress, getting gitchy key chains as souvenirs for people at home, wacky t-shirts, and coconut shell necklaces, you have just blown your vacation budget. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">What’s worse: you get the beautiful (read: tacky) sundress home, and it in turn finds a home in the back corner of your closet, only to be rediscovered months or even years later. You try it on, hopeful that it won’t look as bad as you think it will. It really does look that bad. So it gets disposed of or given away to a poor unsuspecting victim. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">The key chains are accepted by friends with a genuinely appreciative smile, only to be tossed into their overflowing bowl of key chains that they’ll never use. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">The t-shirts were cool and reflected a uniquely cultural flair when you saw them in Mexico, but they seem a little too out of place at home. They become very expensive cleaning rags. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">And the coconut shell necklace went nicely with the sundress, but it is horribly tacky up close, not to mention falling apart; it is a marginal step above macaroni and white glue. The necklace your kid made in grade two beats this one you paid money for. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>What’s the best way to save money on vacation, and not sacrifice the experience? </strong></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Leave the souvenirs in the store.</strong> </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">The best intentions of stimulating the local economy by purchasing souvenirs are more often than not misguided. Many “authentic” crafts and souvenirs are mass-produced in another country entirely. The local girl selling them isn’t seeing nearly the profit margins you may think – in fact she could even be getting a meager hourly wage from a foreigner who is the actual “boss”. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><img src="/files/fruganomics/u290/leave_the_souvenirs_in_the_store_2.jpg" width="150" height="200" align="right" />The items you think you’ll use at home rarely get used. They collect dust, either in your cupboards, or in the cupboards of the poor folks you bestow these gifts upon. The local fashion looked great while you were visiting, but just doesn’t seem to work when you try to wear it at home. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><a href="/impulse-shopping-a-controllable-handicap" target="_blank">Impulse shopping</a>, especially while on vacation, is an easy trap to fall into; that’s why heavily touristy areas are littered with <a href="/concession-stand-treats-%E2%80%93-a-license-to-print-money" target="_blank">concession stands</a>. But rarely will it produce the overall satisfaction that you expect when you shell out your sheckles for that &quot;must-have&quot; souvenir. You won’t use that purse. Wallet. T-shirt. Key chain. 150th mug. Lampshade. Chances are you really won’t. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>But having a souvenir to remember your trip with is a legitimate desire, and can be satisfied without breaking the budget.</strong> </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">As suggested in another <a href="/how-to-have-a-frugal-vacation-and-still-treat-yourself" target="_blank">recent article</a>, instead of leaving yourself to impulse, try to select an item that you want to remember the trip by – just one. One that you can either use regularly (like a hand-carved kitchen tool), or that has a spot on a blank wall that will compliment your current décor and bring fond memories every time you look at it. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><em>If you can, select this item before you even leave home</em>. Then instead of being sidetracked in souvenir shops and concession stands, you can instead be on a mission to find the perfect kind of item you are specifically looking for. It actually becomes part of the adventure of your trip, and depending on the availability of your chosen souvenir, <em>you may meet some interesting folks searching for it</em>. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">You will start to see the difference between the mass-produced souvenir shop fakes, and the real deal. And yes – in some cases you may spend a little extra money on it; but since you’re only buying one thing, you can afford it. It’s in the budget. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Trust me – this is the voice of experience here, with a drawer full of “who can I possibly give this to” items – both your wallet and your wardrobe will appreciate it. </p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Easiest Way to Save Money on Vacation" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living concession stands frugal vacations impulse shopping souvenirs Thu, 14 Aug 2008 06:46:39 +0000 Nora Dunn 2329 at Impulse Shopping: A Controllable Handicap <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/impulse-shopping-a-controllable-handicap" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="marked woman" title="marked woman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="373" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>A good friend and former client of mine was always cheerfully depressed in our regular financial review meetings. Inevitably at each consultation she had either made no headway on her debt repayments, or even worse had dug herself a little bit deeper into the red.</span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Her weakness: impulse shopping. All too often she found herself in a store searching for a black skirt for work, and walking out with a red shirt, blue skirt, three scarves, and two pairs of jeans - but no black skirt. Then off to the next store looking for a coffee table, walking out with bags upon bags of other items she &quot;needed&quot; but didn&#39;t actually need. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>To her, the <em>need</em> was to walk out of a store with bags in her hands. Even if she didn&#39;t find what she wanted, there was some part of her that was satiated from an afternoon spent shopping if she could return home with all sorts of new loot in her possession. You could say her eyes were bigger than her pocketbook. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <h2><span>Guilty Spending</span></h2> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Inevitably, she would feel terrible about her purchases within a week. But by that time she had ripped all the tags off, used or worn the items, and made them part of her life such that even though they were constant reminders of her inability to afford them, she couldn&#39;t let go of them. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>And in this way my friend passed many debt-ridden years of her life: living amongst rooms upon rooms of &quot;stuff&quot; she didn&#39;t need and couldn&#39;t afford in order to have the satisfaction of a day spent shopping and buying. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span><strong>Impulse shoppers:</strong> if this is a tune you know well, you are not alone! There is indeed something strangely satisfying about carrying all those beautiful paper bags out of the store, taking your loot home, and finding a place for that perfect ornament, pair of shoes, or kitchen utensil. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>But if your pocketbook doesn&#39;t agree, there is a solution, which my friend discovered and has been using successfully for years. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <h2><span>Two Day Rule</span></h2> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Feeling satisfied with the day&#39;s purchases, my friend will carefully set her shopping bags in a corner of her home and <strong>not touch them for two days</strong>. This is a hard and fast rule, not to be broken. As much as she needs what is in those bags, she cannot even look in them for two days. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>After the two days are up, she allows herself to pull the items out of the bags, but <strong>not to take any tags off</strong>. She lays them out for a third day to admire her wares and to truly decide if she needs the items she bought. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <h2><span>Return Policies</span></h2> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>The other trick to this scheme is that my friend only buys items from stores with a cash refund policy. Reason being, after the three day trial period, she inevitably returns most of the items she bought on impulse. A few prized possessions might make it through this rigorous process, but if they survive the trial period, she is happy to keep them and absorb the financial consequences of doing so. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span><em>I am in no way advocating a shopping spree with subsequent returns of the items purchased as a financial plan or solid financial advice!</em> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>But I will say that my friend managed to dig herself out of a mile-high pile of retail debt by recognizing her weakness for impulse shopping, and using this disciplined approach for managing it in the best way she could. Just like yo-yo diets, using extremes (like stopping something cold turkey) to manage a problem is rarely a viable long-term solution; creativity and a little discipline can be much more effective, and possibly even fun. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Impulse Shopping: A Controllable Handicap" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping impulse shopping refunds return policies Tue, 01 Jan 2008 00:48:49 +0000 Nora Dunn 1571 at