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Monday, September 7, 2009

Frugal Shopping with Miss Em: At the Drugstore

I've been rather distressed to see that my recent posts have all been about shopping! So here is another one. But this is also about parents and kids, teaching them skills, and so on.

We were honored with a visit from Miss Em this weekend, her first since she became a bona fide college student. Since we like to pamper our beloved princess, we made her a giant pot of her favorite: Thai shrimp curry, which I have posted about before. The veggie base consisted of onion, eggplant (from our garden), peppers (ditto), and some amazingly inexpensive shrimp ($2.99/lb with head on!). With the shells, we made broth, in which we cooked some rice.

Then, Miss Em and I went shopping. This creates a bit of mother-daughter bonding. We do not (I swear) overdo it. Plus, it's all a learning experience. Mr. FS and I were never into hair shirt deprivation for our children. Children of 12 and up are into consumption. We tried to work with that, rather than go against it. It seems to us a natural stage. At least in the USA!

We did make a point of visibly searching for a frugal alternative for their various desires. So Frugal Son accepted an alternative to the Air Nikes all his friends were getting; Miss Em was happy with a Target version of the hideously overpriced American Girl Dolls. They were happy to have something as good as what their friends had, only different.

Once Miss Em was into shampoo, and conditioner, and make up, we learned to shop at Walgreens and CVS. That is how I learned about all the rebates these places offered. So Miss Em learned the important frugal lessons: stock up if it's free**** and WAIT till something is on sale. When she was in junior high, we spent many a blissful time poring over the Sunday ads to see what--if anything--was worthy of our attention. All this gave her a sense of frugal abundance, rather than of frugal deprivation.

Miss Em and I headed out to CVS to get some deodorant and some hair stylers. All were pretty cheap with their rebates. I like to use my rebate money immediately, so we found some great tinted moisterizer reduced from $12 to $3!

Then we went to check out. We were overcharged for the deodorant. This was corrected. Then we didn't get the rebate. Hair products rang up OK. The cashier had to create a rebate for one that didn't work.

Then we tried to buy the moisturizer. Wrong price. Then that was fixed. Our exit was in sight--then I noticed that we were charged $2.00 sales tax on $6.00. I pointed out that we don't have 30%plus tax. Then that was fixed. All very tedious. I asked Miss Em: "Would you have noticed all those errors?" She said she would have.

Hope so. Anyway, the lesson is have a total figure in your head for each part of the transaction. That way, you will notice any errors. In my years of error catching, I have only spotted a TINY percentage in my favor; about 98% have been against the customer.

****Frugal lesson: If you have 3 lipsticks stocked up, don't get another one EVEN IF IT IS FREE. Overdoing it is NOT frugal. Share!

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