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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Paying the Price

It's easy enough to think frugality and cheapness are the same thing, that we should strive for the lowest cost. I do it myself sometimes. Sometimes, I have to resist the lure of the low price.

It is not worth it to drive to even a nearby grocery store to buy apples that are 20 cents less a pound than usual.

I have been engaged in grocery resistance for a while now. As of this year, I am trying to get to the next step and here are my first projects.

1. Beauty in my Surroundings. Susan Heller, my mother's decorating pal, suggested a fabric for my living room. Two, actually. I already bought one. It was easy because I found it on sale somewhere or other and the site had free shipping. There it sits, 4 yards on the bolt. The other one is more difficult. It is almost $40.00 a yard and all polyester. Yuck. The pictures do not show how good these fabrics look together and how the blue matches my newly painted walls AND picks up a tiny spot of blue in my grandparents' old rug.

Of course, I could go to a fabric store and look. Last time I did that, it took about two hours (of driving and looking) and none of the swatches ended up working. I was also depressed and covered with a film of sweat! Stress does that to me. The total savings would be at most $40, since I need two yards for a few pillows.

So I should JUST DO IT. Then, of course, I have to have the pillows made, since I can't do even the most elementary sewing.

2. Satisfying Miss Em's Material Desires. And she has many, being 20 years old. She is not as dementedly frugal as I can be, but she has some moments. I got a glimpse of myself (the dark side of frugality) when I witnessed Miss Em trying to get some make-up at Ulta: it was BUY 2, GET 1 FREE and she had a $3 coupon. She went crazy! That is because there were only two of the face powders she wanted. Finally--partly because I find make-up stores rather boring and poor Mr FS was waiting in the car--I said: JUST BUY ONE. She did, with gratitude.

The other thing Miss Em wants is camisoles from Banana Republic. They are $25! So, while I was having my nervous breakdown, she sweetly asked if she could use the $15 birthday coupon they send me every January. Sure. Sometimes it's not worth the time to find a SINGLE item you want on sale.

Of course, once you relax in the demented frugality department, you receive karmic rewards. I was getting something at a drugstore, when I saw some face powders marked down to 75 cents. They were a Paula Begoun recommended brand, so I got three for Miss Em. Now she won't need face powder for at least a year.

Then, when I was creating the link to the overpriced Banana cami, I saw that they were having a 30% off sale. Better than nothing. I think I will get Miss Em 3 or 4 (4 will get free shipping too), so we will not have to think about that for a year.

OK karmic forces: where's the fabric?

Seriously, for what kind of things do you "pay the price" because seeking out a bargain will cost too much in time or end in failure anyway?

See Funny About Money's related post on having a hated tree cut down.


Funny about Money said...

Heh true it rings in my ears!

Have you ordered a swatch from the second site? So you KNOW how good they fabrics do look together, etc. etc., right?

In my expoerience, unaccompanied shopping in fabric stores is an exercise in the Grace of Gawd. If you run across something that works, it's some kind of miracle and sunlight beams down on you from behind the gathering clouds. Most of the time, though, it's a frustrating waste of time.

You only need two yards of this $40/yard poly? That's only eighty's not going to break the bank, and something like this is likely to last for several years. Let's say you enjoy the pillows for only five years (that's prob'ly a conservative guess): $80/5 is $16 a year. Augh! Just DO IT.

Nice cami. looks exactly like the ones you can get at Costco for about $16 for two. But of course those aren't Banana Republic. Does the 30% off BR is advertising apply to the $25, or is that actually the sale price?

LOL! What a conundrum. I hate spending time driving around looking for cents-off. My response instead is to delay purchases, to do without, to kick into anchorite mode. Probably not healthy.

Thanks for the mention, BTW. :-)

Funny about Money said...

ooops...i'm s'pposed to be an editor but can't bring myself to proofread. sorreeee...

SewingLibrarian said...

Look at it this way. You got free advice from your mother's pal. (At least, I assume it was free.) That's worth more than $80.00.
I hate running to various grocery stores and pretty much stick to two, the local grocery and a supermarket for what the grocery doesn't carry. But my DH, bless him, loves Costco, and makes a Costco run once a week.
I don't do coupons. My life is hectic enough without worrying about coupons. If I can get something off with one of those membership tags, I use it. I have 10 or 12 on my keyring, so that's easy.

Duchesse said...

That Bali print fabric is gorgeous! I love it!

The stripe: do not fear poly, it is not on your body and poly wears so much better than natural fibers in decor.

Yes, you can find lower-cost stripes but scale, colour (match w/ print) etc. - good luck and how much time do you have? It's perfect. (The only reservation I'd have is if you are selling the place in 1-2 yrs but doesn't sound like it.) I made that mistake, aargh- bit did not know at the time we'd be moving.

You can vent your frugality on finding remnants for pillows or some other project.

As for Miss Em's camis, 30% off takes them to a reasonable level. (If i had a daughter like Miss Em, I would be a pushover.)

Shelley said...

I don't have the experience of driving around looking for a bargain for several reasons:
a) when I lived in the US I had no time; b) fuel here in the UK is £1.37 per litre, so I consider driving a luxury; and the MAIN reason c) I don't tend to get stuck on the idea of a very specific item or brand. I go to my regular shopping places. list in hand (or mind), and look at what I want or need in the 2 or 3 shops, comparing the brands and prices on offer. I buy what my experience has told me is the best product for the least price I can get amongst those shops. If there was an amazing offer, I might buy two or three, as you did. I can't remember the last time I drove someplace because they had a sale.

Obviously, you can't do this sort of thing with the decorating fabric. The batik is gorgeous and I can see why the stripe might go very well with it (the swatch is a good idea, I had assumed you had one already). If you are going to lift the bar with respect to your home decorating scheme then this, I suspect, is the price you will have to pay. If the fabrics are really going to pull together the room and make it look anything as yummy as the batik, then £80 doesn't sound so much. Do you know where to get the pillows made up? No point going half way and stopping and you've already bought the first fabric. I say keep marching down that road to the finish. If you don't find the results worthwhile, then it's a valuable lesson learned. If it is, then as FAM says, you'll love it for years.

Mardel said...

The fabric sounds worthwhile, and poly will hold up much better than something all-natural. Buying the fabric that makes that lovely print sing will probably bring you joy and searching for something else will cause frustration and regret, or so it sounds from your post. Frugality also means knowing what matters and what doesn't.

Anonymous said...

The demented search for a bargain...has caused us to spend too much on gasoline, a fact I tactfully omitted from my clothing budget post for 2011. Having daughter's Em's age is difficult and I would often indulge mine in things I wouldn't have spent similar money on for myself. I think one reason I've been so reluctant to shop most retail is that it seems like such a confusing game to me, to get the best value for my buck.

Anonymous said...

I like sales, but when it starts to become "work" to keep up with them, I just don't have the patience.

So I don't drive out of my way for a sale. I go to pretty much the same 3 grocery stores every week, and buy whatever's on my list. No coupons either. They create paper clutter in my home and purse (i.e., "work".)

I tend to shop for clothes at the same few stores, too. I know when they have sales and so I will usually wait and make my purchases during those times. But if I need something NOW, I will usually just go to the mall and buy whatever suits me best, even if it's not on sale.

I do sew and I can tell you that it is extremely difficult to find matching fabric in a fabric store, unless it's from the same line and has been "pre-matched". I'd say, if you've found one that works, buy it.