Sunday, July 27, 2014

Take Care of the Pennies and the Dollars Take Care of Themselves, Shopping, Part 2

Today I'd like to talk about shopping styles.  There's only a handful of them. 

1.There's the 'I don't have time for this, but it has to be done' method.  This is the not make a list, go to the store and make a beeline to the item, grab it and go method.  That was me when I worked full time.  This is the one most of us avoid.  We like to shop. 

2. There's the 'stroll' method. There's something relaxing about the stroll through the store looking for any item we think we need or want.  I think it's a way of leaving all of the stress life can bring our way behind, if only for a few minutes.

3.  Finally there's the ' I got it on sale.  You won't believe what I paid for it' method.

I have transitioned through all three of these methods at different stages of my life.  I have also learned that all three of them have pitfalls.  I now am distinct in my shopping habits, most of the time.  Now that I see there are pitfalls I'm rather focused when I shop.  I know which type of shopping I'm in the mood for.  Being aware helps me keep my money close to me. 

Years ago a light bulb went on.  I had a choice.  I could make other people rich, or I could keep my resources close to me.  Keep in mind I was always frugal, seeing the benefits of that life style.  I just didn't have the whole picture back then.

1. The ' I Don't Have Time For This' method

Like I said, I went through this method when I worked full time.  My poor husband thought we were going to stroll and check things out.  I just couldn't.  There was very little time for me to accomplish everything personal during the weekends.  I had to do some batch cooking, laundry, some cleaning, and resting so I could put in another  sixty or seventy hours at work. I had budgets to create, people to manage and had to stay after my staff went home to finish paper work or meet with my COO. (Chief Operating Office).  Because we had an open door policy, both she and I took care of employee needs before ours.  The staff was happy, but it made our lives filled with work.  The pitfall is I missed a lot of good sales and coupons.  I didn't have time to make a list so we just bought whatever looked good.  There was a lot of wasted groceries with this method and clothes in the closet that never got worn.  No time to think and plan out our purchases.  Thankfully, we were not the big purchase types.  It was still the thought process of 'if we didn't have the money to back up the purchase, we didn't get it'. 

I began to see the errors of my ways after I read the article about the fabric softener in 2006.  (I posted about this in an earlier post.  Fabric softener is a petroleum by product.)  That article was so enlightening that it opened many other doors for me.  It was that single article that opened my mind to other streams of being frugal.

Is this the way you shop?  Can you find a way to alter your habits in an effort to keep your money closer to you?  Perhaps scheduling time for shopping.  Using lunch hours to go over the sale flyers for any items on your needs list.  (Keep in mind the needs vs. the wants principle.)

2. The Stroll Method

I distinctly remember one time I did this when our lives were filled with so much stress.  I didn't do it on purpose, it just happened.  I had to pick up my daughter from Girl Scouts.  I was early so I stopped at a local store to browse the sale items hoping to find a Christmas gift at a bargain price.  I was 30 minutes late picking her up.  The leader was quite upset with me.

I know I use to use this method quite a bit when I could steal some time away from personal duties.  Raising four children with two chronically ill family members could be quite daunting at times.  So I would stroll when I had the opportunity.  I didn't have much discretionary spending money, but I could always find something we 'needed'.  I have since altered my thoughts on what the word 'need' means.  Today need items are only those things I need to survive.  I'm not saying I don't purchase items I want.  I'm only saying I am now aware of the difference between a need and a want.  Awareness is key to an educated buying decision.

For example, I need food.  Proteins, energy producing carbs, fruits and veggies.  What I don't need is asparagus out of season or a 12.00 a pound steak when 3.49 a pound hamburg will serve the same need.  I don't need 10 pair of jeans when one or two will keep me covered just as well.  I'm not saying to not buy ten pair of jeans.  I'm saying if you have a desire to get out from under the burden of debt, then ask yourself,  'Do I need this, or do I want to put this money towards debt'?  Pennies turn into dollars.  After a while the dollars turn into paid off debt.

3.  The I Got It On Sale method. 

This was my biggest and longest running shopping style.  I really thought I was being frugal when I bought that juicer at a good price.  It never occurred to me in thirty five years I used it only twice.  It took up precious space in my kitchen for years.  It was pushed back in the lower cupboard though.  I could have seeded the free grapes we grew in the yard by hand rather than spend the money on a juicer I barely used.  But, I wasn't mature enough in my thought process to see the big picture.  Now I have time and mistakes behind me to assist me in my spending habits.

I'm writing this to inform young families of the not so obvious.  I wish to help anyone who is seeking help in this area.  I wish Home Economics was still offered in school systems.  I think that's where I got my start - when I figured out what the word economics really meant when it was attached to the word home.


  1. Wow! The third shopping style jumped out at me, because... well... my sons call me "the Queen of the Bargain" for good reason. I'm a very serious bargain shopper. Clearance sales call to me, especially when they're 70-80% off regular retail with additional 20-50% off (anyone remember Macy's White Flower Day sales?). Even at the grocery store, I shop marked down "manager's specials" before putting any other meats, dairy, etc. in my cart. Or, I should say, have done so most of my adult life until lately. With full freezers (yes, plural) and a well stocked pantry, plus free produce deliveries every week, I'm at a point where I'll wait until my stockpile gets low before even looking at more to buy. I know store sale cycles. And I know when to watch for the "manager's specials". It's a balancing game for me. It's tough to pass up on a great bargain, though, so is something I wrestle with a lot. I have to ask myself if I really need it, if I have space for it, can this purchase wait, AND know when to say "no". We've been purging a lot of household stuff (aka clutter) lately, so that helps. Since I shop for Christmas and Birthdays throughout the year, and summer months are best for bargains on some things, I've started keeping a notebook of what I have already for this, that and the other person. Also, I factor in how heavy the items are, as I have to ship to anyone outside of immediate family. A heavy box or six means pricey shipping unless I'm using flat rate priority mail, and then I'm limited to what'll fit in the box. Also, there are things like... I didn't buy clearance priced Christmas cards or wrap after New Year's this year, because I already had an abundance. Even though the deals were fabulous. I made myself wait, because they'll be on sale after the holidays again this year.

  2. That's exactly how I shopped for years. It has been just recently when I decided to pass up bargains because I had enough of something. I felt it had to end somewhere. Good luck staying on track.