Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Spendy McSpenderson: My Shopping Strategy

       I've certainly been talking a lot about all of the things that I've been buying or that are on my wish list. But before you go thinking that I'm a bit crazy with my shopping-for-home-stuff, and that I'm shopping us right into a load of credit card debt, I thought I should fill you in on how I shop, choose to spend our money, and my home decor buying tactics.  So here it goes.
       Our home is something that Jon and I both value greatly. We worked and saved very hard for many years to afford our home and we treasure it. Living in a rental killed us both. I hated looking at the dark dated paneled walls. Our porch was falling to pieces (one time, my dad was sitting in a chair and the chair leg literally broke through our deck board).  We want to love the place we come home to, and we want to have pride in our home.  And here, we do. We love our neighbors, we love our lawn, we love our blooming flowers, and we love the views from our windows. We just don't quite love the interior all that much, yet.
       Let me compare our home to hair. Most women spend a good amount of money to get their hair cut regularly. A good haircut makes us feel good. It gives us confidence. And we see the cost of a haircut as a part of normal upkeep. If you spend that money on your haircut, isn't it then also worth your money to buy the products to help style your hair? To wake up early and spend the time each day to do your hair? Don't you feel better as a result?  We spent so much of our hard earned savings on this house, and now it's time to expend the money and energy to make it look and feel just the way we want it to be. THIS is how we our choosing to spend our money currently, and we are willing to forgo other comforts to do so. We don't take vacations. I don't get my nails done. We never eat out at restaurants (I go out once every few months).  Our priority now is spending money on our home so that it's an inviting place for us, our friends, our children and their friends.
       So with all of this in mind, what is my approach to shopping and getting a good price? Furniture and home goods are an absolute luxury, and we buy only within our means (for the most part). We're not willing to assume debt just to have a great 10' leather couch (something that I'm wishing for for our living room, but is absolutely not an option). With our move to Truckee, we are much closer to Reno meaning we are much closer to retail shopping. But, because I have two kiddos who don't like perusing aisles for fabric, baskets and the like as much as I do, shopping isn't necessarily much fun for me. So my approach-I buy everything online. Everything.
       But before I ever click "Buy" I have several online shopping rules for myself. Here are some of those guidelines:

Rule #1-  I NEVER pay full price. Ever. There is just NO reason to. Retailers are running various sales constantly, and if you exercise a little patience, that must have item will be offered at a discount. If I can't get it on sale or at a discount then it's not worth it. So I put things in my shopping cart, and I wait. And I wait. And I wait. If it sells out before I can get it at a great price, then it wasn't meant to be. And I don't consider 10% off a discount. Sorry Charlie, I need bigger numbers then that. Trust me, something else that you love just as much will come a long...and you'll get it at a better price...which will make you love it even more.  

Rule #2- I comparison shop. I check out many a retailer for the item that I have in mind, before I'll settle on what I'm going to buy. I'll compare options at various price points to ensure I'm not over spending. I'll cruise Target, Ikea, WestElm, PotteryBarn, Overstock, Wayfair, BallardDesigns, Amazon, etc. etc. to see if there is a better option anywhere at a better price or to see if anyone is running a big sale. It takes a bit of my time, but come on, I love shopping, so it's pretty painless.

Rule #3- I sign up for emails. I receive emails from all my favorite retailers. Yes, it's annoying to have your inbox bombarded, but you also know about every sale that comes up, and you receive special offers. Sure, they are just trying to make you feel like a valued customer, and I know I'm just another number, but I'll take the extra 15% off, no problem. So....if you've been eyeing curtains at WestElm and you receive an email that you can get 25% off with the sale they're running AND free shipping (true story- more on those in a soon to be written post), then you just saved yourself some bucks. I constantly have a list of discount emails sitting in my inbox. I check when they expire, and then I  just keep them in mind when I'm out looking for things. Take our bamboo blinds (again, another post is in the works on those) as an example. I was looking for some for our three windows in our master bedroom. I checked them out at Lowe's while we were out shopping one day. I wasn't convinced that they were at a great price. So I came home and looked at Target (no luck), and then found several options on Overstock.com that I liked. Of course I had a 15% off coupon sitting in my email, so I saved myself $30.00 bucks on the purchase and took advantage of free shipping. Savings like that really add up.

Rule #4-  I rarely pay shipping. It's against my shopping religion. All retailers offer free shipping regularly, you just have to wait for it. So I do. If there is a minimum spend needed for free shipping I try to wait until I need several items from one place so that it all arrives to me for free. Sometimes shipping can cost $20.00+, and that is not a cost I'm willing to spend. And if I can't get free shipping (which some retailers don't like to offer), then I most likely am not getting the item. It's a deal breaker all of the time for me.

Rule #5-  I would rather spend $700.00 on something that I LOVE then a version for $500.00 that I like. I have learned this lesson time and time again in my life. If it's something that you'll be looking at day in and day out you will constantly be thinking to yourself "the more expensive one would have looked better" or "I don't LOVE those". Now of course, I would work to get the $700.00 version on sale, but that goes without saying.

Rule #6-  Can I find it on craigslist? I think I pretty much summed this one all up with that dining table that I landed. Craigslist is amazing. There are steals to be had. Go out and get yours.

Rule #7- Just because some thing is on sale, doesn't mean that you should buy it. This one gets a bit hard for this bargain hunter, I'm not going to lie. Sometimes the retailers just keep sending, and sending, and sending me discounts. How can I NOT buy something? As hard as it may be sometimes, I really try not to buy something unless I LOVE it. Not because it's currently trending. Not because I saw it in another bloggers home. I only allow myself to purchase if it's something that I can't stop thinking about it. When we moved into our house, USPS sent us a new home packet of retail coupons. I have those coupons for places like Pottery Barn Kids, Restoration Hardware, Crate and Barrel, etc. burning a hole in my wallet. But you know what, I shouldn't use them unless its for something that I'm dying for and/or needing.

Rule #8- Can I make that for less money? This is something that I always try to consider. Often, retailers are charging SO much for something that is so easy to do ourselves. For example, I saw these bulletin boards over at Ballard Designs for $89.00 (!!!) for the largest size:

Nothing earth shattering really, but they looked loads better 
then the ugly bulletin board that we had lying around, 
and I knew that I wanted to put ours to use in our Master Bedroom/Office. 
So mama got to work
(That's a very old photo of Jon, 
after having crashed his bike. 
I've tried to get rid of it.
Nolan loves it).
I picked up about $8.00 worth of fabric...
....you're going to have to wait for the afters, but it's done, 
and it's on our wall and it was a cheap easy project.

Rule #9- I allow myself a needed purchase every month. It's nice to collect things as we go and save them until we're ready to use them. For example, for our half bath makeover I have my new light fixture, the rug, and mirror all sitting in wait. When we get around to that project, we'll already have spent the money and it won't hit our pocketbook all at once. And yes...I nabbed them all on sale, and with no shipping costs. It also helps with that Ta-Da!, magic of TV, quick transformation effect that we all love. 

Rule #10- Big splurges are okay! It is okay not to be cheap. It is okay to spend some moo-lah on a splurge. Mixing low end and high end items are what give our homes a layered, lived in feel. If you purchase everything from Target and Ikea, your going to feel as if you're living in a big box store. If you LOVE something and time doesn't fade your love for that item, then save for it and splurge! But of course, try to get it on sale and layer any discounts that you can. 

       I'm sure I'm forgetting one or two, but they'll come to me. As much as I love shopping for our home, I always try to remember that things for our homes are really just "things." They aren't worth putting ourselves into debt. They aren't necessities. We can live, completely happy I might add, without all of it.  So when I say to myself, "We have to get rid of that giant 1990's box of a TV and get a flat screen," the reality is, we don't. We'll get there, but we can live completely comfortably and fine with that big ole' box until the time comes.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Carrie! I'll text you some dates soon so that we can figure out a night for dinner!