Archives

Spending $1.97 for Sweaters with a $104.00 SRP

A few weeks ago I had received some discount and cash off coupons that Kohls so generously sent my way. I have a tendency to ignore these unless we have a need for something, and that particular week we had some things that we both needed. So off we went to see what we could find. Well, we found plenty, although we were both a little stunned at the cost of hose for me, and socks for him, and we won’t even talk about the cost of underwear. Basically, I was beginning to think they were being custom made in the back room, simply for our needs!

Okay, a little transparency: I do not shop frequently, and when I do everything is on sale and I try to buy things in bulk so that I do not have to return anytime soon. Apparently I was away for far longer than I thought, at least for these type items. Well, we left with the basics, and obviously with no extra’s to stash away for when these items might need to be replaced, but we did leave with a $10 Kohl’s cash coupon. I personally do not enjoy this gimmick to get people to return and spend money, so much so, that I will give them to one of my daughters or someone else if they are in need of something at Kohl’s. In addition, I do not believe in credit cards, yet they can work if you only spend what you have available to spend. The only reason I have a Kohl’s card is for the discounts they send my way.

Well, since that visit, I acquired various coupons along with that Kohls cash.  For some reason Kohl’s decided to send me $10 for the Veteran’s day weekend through the mail and another one (different code) via email. Then another $10 because I willingly said “sure” I’ll be happy to get my bill via email”, and another one for the “yes2you” rewards program. Needless to say, I had $50 that I was having a difficult time saying “no” to. Mind you I was a little bummed that they were not offering any % discounts on top of all this savings, but one must not be greedy while being thankful for what one has.

So tonight I returned to Kohl’s thinking that first I will get a few extra pair of hose, but wanted to check out the dresses and sweaters. I found one sweater dress that looked amazing on me, but even on sale, the “see through winter look” was not the fashion statement I was looking for, and certainly NOT for the $79 sale price. I know, I hear some of you ladies thinking, but it would only net out to $29!!  Okay, sure, a great deal, but I struggled in knowing that this sweater dress was noticeably see through. In addition, I just paid off my Kohl’s card for that previous purchase and I had no intention of adding more to it.

So, I browsed a bit, and finally selected a few classic sweaters and a fashionable cardigan. These will work well with dress pants, jeans, and skirts. Yes, I thought about the full wardrobe benefit before cashing in my FREE money. So three sweaters later, my husband and I walk to the register. The total rings up as $51.97 before the coupons. And yes, you math wizards have calculated my total correctly. I ended up putting $1.97 on my Kohl’s charge, and only because they insist that you use their credit card to utilize some of the discounts. Silly them!!

Don’t you just love it when the cashier looks at the total dollars saved and announces  that “you saved $102.03 on  your order today”. They are so perky that I really hate to disappoint them. Seriously, I saved $50, NOT $102.03, because you see, I would never pay full price knowing that Kohl’s always has things on sale and many times for 40-50% off their regular price.

My husband loves shopping with me, not because he enjoys waiting for me to decide what I will be buying for the lowest price possible, but rather to see how much I will not be spending. As we left this evening with my gleeful giggles, he chuckled and asked if I could find a way to save at BassPro and leave there spending no more than $5.00 for his wish list of a new tree stand, a new pistol for each of us and a rifle. Hmmm…guess I need to do some serious thinking there. So far I have not accumulated much on their reward card, so that could take awhile. Yet, if we win their huge sweepstakes they currently have going on, we could walk away with more than his wish list. Then again, I’m not sure I really want to win considering the tax implications.

Being frugal is not about being cheap, but rather about using your resources wisely.

Laura – Frugal Value Lifestyle

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

The Sales are Abundant – Are You Buying?

Sales are Abundant Frugal Value Living

The budget is tender with limited funds that need to be focused on housing and utilities.  Even grocery resources are limited to necessities.  Yet, we as Americans are still swamped with sales flyers and daily emails that shout “sale”, “save 20%”, save 40%”, “Buy 2 get 1 free” and more.  How do the gimmicks affect you?

Sometimes the sales can be rather tempting most especially if there is an item you have been waiting for quite some time to go on sale.  But, one thing to keep in mind when the flyers and emails arrive is that the companies offering the sales are not the ones who will be paying your bills.  They are not interested in knowing whether you will have a roof over your head, food on the table or whether your utility bills will be paid on time.  So, if the item is something you have been saving for, it is definitely worth the investment for the deal you find fair to your spending.

The pressure to spend is everywhere we turn.  From the coupons and store flyers that arrive in our Sunday papers to the email alerts from vendors we love to shop with.  There are other options to spend when we think about our entertainments “needs” for culture and relaxation.  Just because there is a one-time event, a special deal or coupon to entice you to spend, it is not a necessity for one to pass out their resources as if there is a never ending supply of cash.

My first question to ask would be:  To attend that one-time event, purchase that one-time deal, take advantage of those “wow” coupon savings, will you have to forego paying a utility bill, your rent, or worse, use your credit card?  If you answer is “yes” to one or all, then I will bluntly share “you do NOT need the item(s)!”  If you really need the item, consider how you might be able to cut back on groceries or reduce your utility usage so that you can acquire it next month.  Or, consider asking it to be a gift from someone during the holiday season, birthday, etc.

Somewhere in society, the adage to “have it all” has become the norm.  It has fueled the retail establishments to overprice their goods, because they have found that offering a 40% coupon will awaken the minds of many to spend, even when they do not even have the resources to do so.  Think about the insane Black Friday sales events.  Did you know that many of those same deals are happening year round?  Actually, if you plan well, you can have your gift shopping done prior to the holiday decorations are even being displayed in the store.

Unfortunately, the value of the dollar has gone out the window in America.  My current focus is to pay our basic bills – Mortgage, car, electric, phone, cell, water, fuel, ..yup, that’s it.  We are fortunate not to have any credit card debt.  I want my Mortgage Bank to be happy, my utility providers to continue to provide me service (I am not talking about a TV service as which is not an expense that fits within our budget – we consider this a “want” vs. a “need”, we also consider it unfortunate that we can no longer get the local news for free), and the ability for my husbands’ vehicle to have a full tank of gas so that he can get back and forth to work each day.  We then focus on basic groceries, followed by necessary clothing, then what we call luxuries (the extra’s).  Sometimes this means going without “new” clothes for quite some time.

If we all took a look in our closets, we would probably find plenty of clothes that would last us longer than a year.  Sure, we have our favorites that get worn out, but consider wearing the items that are in the back of the closet.  If you find you are not interested in wearing them, then either re-fashion, get alterations, sell or give to a charity.  Make room in your closet so that you can see the potential your wardrobe has for you.

I recently shared with my hairdresser, who by the way I had not seen in over a year, that we had not shopped for clothing, extra’s or even at JoAnn’s in over a year.  She was amazed at my willpower.   I never really thought about it being “willpower” but rather a necessity and having my priorities in line.

Not having a haircut in over a year was difficult.  Yet, the resources did not allow for it, plus I tend to trim in between cuts.  Although I do not normally go a year without her fixing things up, this year I needed to stretch the visit as far as possible.  To save even further, I only got the wash and cut which saved $4.00, in addition the girl who booked my appointment gave me her $2 coupon off my cut.  Sometimes waiting allows one to experience God’s generosity of others.

There will always be a sale, a 40% off coupon, or better yet, the potential item you have been so patiently waiting for goes to an incredible 80% off clearance price.  The “want” will always be there, but we can soften the desire by rationalizing whether it is an actual “need” vs. a “want” in addition to saving in a separate account or savings jar.

Try for one week to avoid shopping for anything more than your “basic” groceries.  And on this trip avoid the candy, ice cream, potato chips, etc. also known as the “junk” food items.  Purchase only the basics and make do with what you already have in the cupboards and freezer.  Make a dessert from scratch, go without a dessert.  Play a board game, read a book or watch a DVD you picked up from the library.  At the end of the week, decide for yourself if it was worth doing without.

So, during a time of needing to watch our spending, how do I avoid the sales gimmicks?  Well, I certainly glance through the flyers and breeze through the emails, and have become quite good at using my delete key on my keyboard and looking for “necessary” items on sale at the grocery store.  There is absolutely no room to “stretch” in order to have something that is not needed.

These are gimmicks that drive me insane:

  • $50 (or more) rebate after purchase.  Stores no longer give you a discount at the register.  Instead they want to hang onto your resources, in a bank, that gains interest for “them”, while you prepare the paperwork to submit your rebate.  This can sometimes be done online saving you a stamp, yet many times you still need to pay the postage and fill an envelope with a variety of paperwork.  You do not regain your cash for at least four to eight weeks.  They do this to discourage you as well as hope you forget about it when you get home. Then, when all this is done, the new gimmick is that the consumer now receives a credit card to spend, versus a check to put back into one’s checking account.  Seriously?  You told me that I would get my money back, and now I need to use this to buy something.  You cannot use this on a credit card bill (if you have one) Why?  Because they want to be “sure” they are getting their hands on your money.  Buyers do not despair. We all need groceries and gas for our vehicles in which we can use these cards for.  I simply do not like it when stores offer these incentives then send a credit card.
  • Buy TWO and get ONE FREE:  Well, I only need one, or I only have sufficient funds for one, so there goes that option.   Or, in the case of a shoe store, you can only find one pair that fits you or all members of your family.  What does one do?  Purchase two more, in a size that does not fit or a color that is unappealing?  Okay, there are a few products that we will use more than one of, such as shampoo, but if I only need one and things are tight, I only purchase what I need.
  • 3 hour sale, 1 day sale, 3 day weekend sale.  So, you normally shop on a Thursday, but the grocery store is offering an amazing deal on fresh fruit for this Sunday.  This causes one to either dip into the funds necessary for other bills making it necessary for you to wait until the next pay period to pay the bill you borrowed from.  Or, how about that craft store that is enticing you to run in and stock up on scrapbooking supplies. I would rather wait until the sale lasts a week, allowing me to make one trip into town, not causing gas to be wasted, allowing for a well thought out shopping trip used to its advantage.  One of our local grocery stores lost me as a customer because I just did not find that their “sale” was worth the wasted gas to run into town each day of the weekend, unless I was already down there.

We are coming close to the holiday season, the email deals are coming in daily, and store flyers increasing the desires in our minds to spend.  Consider trying a week at a time to go without.  Put the extra in an account for a “rainy day”.  In doing so, you will be amazed at how much you can save over the course of a year or two.   For us, it gave us an extra year of resources to make ends meet.

As always, living a frugal life, does not mean living a “cheap” life, but rather a fullfilling one instead.

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Please comment, follow here, follow on Facebook, share on your favorite social media, etc… Look forward to hearing from you.

Under Warranty – Returning the Bug Zapper

FrugalValueLifestyleLimitedWarranty1

One benefit that some manufacturers provide is the limited warranty at no additional charge to the consumer.  Rarely do we hang onto the boxes “just in case” or many times we either toss that little receipt or have it filed away.

Fortunately, the bug zapper that we received as a gift last summer is something where my husband held onto the box so that it could be stored in during the winter months.  So, after a few months of having it hang, my husband discovered that our work horse of last summer, was not taking care of the mosquitoes and other insects that can cause one to start swatting ones arm uncontrollably at anything resembling an insect that might bite.

FrugalValueLifestyleLimitedWarranty3In reading the box I saw that it had a 3 year limited warranty.   I mentioned to David that I was going to call the company on Monday to ask them about this limited warranty.  To my surprise, even without a receipt, they took my complaint seriously and after asking a few questions provided me with a return authorization number.

Two negatives to my initial communication was that they were not able to provide a return shipping label, and instead of taking the initiative to share the address to return the item, I was forwarded to a recording where it was impossible to clearly understand some of the address.  So, as to not allow the discouragement to take hold of my day, I decided to send an email to the customer service department, sharing that it would make things much easier on the customer if they provided a return shipping label via email, and/or at least have a human communicate the address so that one could be sure that the item was being returned to the correct address.

I decided to send an email, not really being certain whether someone would respond.  I was totally pleased with the quick response.  Within three hours, I heard back from their customer service specialist Catherine.  Understanding my concern for the costs that I would incur in returning the product and my dissatisfaction in not having a clear understanding of the address to return the product, she provided me with a location closer to home saving me on postage as well as a faster turnaround experience.

FrugalValueLifestyleLimitedWarranty2So, today the box was packed and shipped out.  We spent $8.09 on USPS shipping, in its original box verses the potential replacement cost of $50-$60.  For us, even though our preference would have been to have a free paid shipping label, the cost difference in savings was worth our shipping back to the company for a replacement.  They share that it is a 2-4 week turn-around, which we will wait and see.

I am not suggesting that one build a shed to store boxes and receipts, but I am suggesting that when you are purchasing a product with a warranty, that you consider how you might return it if it needs to be replaced along with maintaining the receipt.  For us, we did not have a receipt, as it was a gift but Kaz Incorporated worked with me on this.

In addition, do not toss your money away when a product does have a warranty.  Utilize this benefit.  They realize that many will not take advantage of the offer, but if it saves you $40-$50 or more (depending on the product), do you not think it would be worth it?  You save gas from having to go back out and shop for a replacement, the full replacement cost, etc.  It took me a matter of two minutes on the phone, 1 minute to write an email, and maybe 5-10 minutes to prepare a label from home utilizing USPS.com

  • FrugalValueLifestyleLimitedWarranty4Clearly label all documents with the return authorization number.
  • Be sure to maintain copies of all communications and receipt of your return shipment.
  • Make sure you select tracking confirmation on your shipping selection.
  • Follow-up in two weeks, with your return authorization number if you have not received any communication or the return of your product.
  • And, always, be kind to the customer service representative.  If they are arrogant and/or rude, ask to speak to a supervisor.

I am anxious to receive the new replacement and hang it in place so that we can enjoy our evenings outdoors.  I am trusting that Kaz Incorporated will follow through with a brand new replacement before summer is done.  Yet, I will definitely follow-up on this post to share the results of this return experience.

Be mindful of your money and how you spend it, utilizing the warranties a product you purchase carries.

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

 

Quality VS. Price

FrugalNotCheapQuote

How do you shop?  Are you a serious bargain hunter looking for the bottom dollar item?  Do you shop quality only?  Do you comparison shop, for value and savings?   Are you drawn to a store because of dollar value or quality value?

There are various ways in which people shop, yet today I would like to focus on quality vs. price.  As previously read in my blog “A Childs Lesson:  The Value of A Dollar”, I shared a method in which I taught my daughters how to shop for quality.  At a very young age, I would allow them to make that “must have, immediate gratification, impulse purchase” in order to teach them a lesson on the value of a dollar.  How quickly we can spend without focusing on what we are really purchasing.

As teens with their first jobs, young adults, young parents, and others: when you shop you spend resources that you yourself had to work hard to earn.  But when you hand over those earnings at the cash register, are you really taking a look at the value of what you are purchasing?

Today, so many of our products are being manufactured overseas.  In some cases we are getting some quality products, yet this is not always true of every product that is out on the market.

As consumers, we work hard, play hard and can so quickly carelessly spend.  Yet, do you also work hard at making the resources you earned, go to find quality products that you will appreciate for a reasonable length of time?  Today I do not wish speak on consumable products like groceries, but rather on the purchases that can also have a physical and/or emotional impact.

I happen to be a huge advocate for researching and being sure that what one is purchasing is of a quality nature.  From sneakers and undergarments to cars and furniture, etc.  I also value in the time span in which I plan to use and maintain such items.

Be wise with what you are blessed with.  Think twice then spend your hard-earned resources on what you really need.

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor