Posts filed under ‘shopping’

Finding Myself Again


As part of my fanatical decluttering I gave away the majority of my wardrobe. To be honest I grew tired of looking at drawers full of clothes that didn’t seem to fit properly anymore. Some items didn’t really suit my taste and others were from a time long gone by.

There were those button down shirts that I bought back in 1999, (the year after I graduated from college,) and beautiful dresses that I never had an occasion special enough to wear, but there were also many articles of clothing that simply didn’t feel right when I put them on. I blame that on pregnancy, nursing and let’s be honest just not exercising as often as I should.

After two pregnancies and many months nursing the clothes I did wear were stretched out and threadbare. I liked the comfort of my pull-down nursing tops. They made it so easy to feed my sons without having to lift my shirt or remove any clothing. For years I allowed that convenience and comfort to outweigh that frumpy feeling.

But recently I started going to the gym late at night long after the boys are in bed. It’s a way to get out of the house for an hour or so, alone and uninterrupted. Some people go to the gym to get fit or to lose weight. I’m simply not sure where else to go late at night; free from the constant neediness of my children.

Of course, exercise has helped me shed a few pounds and while I’ve only lost five or ten it seems I’ve lost all of it right around my middle. My pants are suddenly slipping off my hips and my shirts are hanging strangely from my body.

The weight loss is great, but the best thing about my new found late night independence is that I am beginning to feel like myself again. After leaving my job to stay home with the boys my persona became “all about mom”, but after four long and happy years, it’s now time to turn the focus back to myself.

Of course the result of losing weight is the need for a new wardrobe. I don’t need a ton of clothes, but I do need items in just about every category; new pants, shirts, shirts and dresses. I started my search online, looking for sales and adding coupon and promotion codes from places like I also ventured to outlet stores and even the local mall in search of new items.

Of course, I worry about making the same fashion mistakes all over again. Will I end up with drawers and hangers full of clothes that I’ll never wear? To be safe I’m keeping all of my receipts and noting the deadline for returns. I’m also consulting my husband and mom for advice. I plan to try on things and get a thumbs up before removing any tags.

I’ve never really been the kind of girl who gives fashion much thought, so it feels strange to stand in front of a full length mirror assessing how clothes fit three of the last four days. Despite the odd feeling I know I must press on.

When all is said and done I hope to get rid of the last few stretched out, baggy pants and shirts that are now much too big for me. It’s time to focus on feeling better, looking better and getting back to me. The “me” that has an identity outside of “mom.”

June 2, 2016 at 3:43 PM 1 comment

Simply Annoyed


In just a few days my family will leave for our annual beach vacation. We take two major trips to the beach each year; one that marks the start of summer and one that marks the end of it. I’m in charge of figuring out everything we might need, packing it up and more often than not trekking it out the car.

As my three year old is constantly growing I decided to order new pajamas for our trip. I walked into a children’s store and walked out with two new sets pajamas. For some silly reason I decided to search for a few similar sets online and noticed that the price was $4 less for the exact same pair I purchased just a few hours earlier.

The store is nearly an hour away from my house, so it certainly doesn’t seem worth a round trip that would save me less than $10. I know this is not a ton of money, but it still irks me.

Today I encountered a similarly frustrating scenario. I bought a pair of blue water shoes online for my son. I didn’t notice that the shoes came in multiple colors and simply purchased the color displayed on the screen. The next day I decided to buy a second pair, (my son isn’t a fan of putting on cold, wet shoes), and discovered that any color other than blue was at least $7 less. Ugh.

I know these types of things won’t make or break me. In the big scheme of life it is only $7 here and $8 there, but I’m still super annoyed because I feel like both scenarios could have been prevented.

In the first case I could have searched online before buying the pajamas in store. In the second case I could have searched for various options and compared prices before pushing the checkout button.


May 18, 2015 at 6:58 PM 2 comments

Grocery Store Policies: Inaccurate Pricing


This morning, while I was out running other errands, I dropped into a nearby grocery store to purchase jelly for my son’s school lunches. I visited this store once or twice before, but I’m not particularly familiar with the store layout or the brands available for purchase.

The jelly jars were actually segmented into two different sections of the aisle. For the record it took me a little while to figure this out. The first set of shelves contained the common brands like Smucker’s and Welch’s. The second area, which was located a shelf or two to the right, contained more specialized jars of organic and all natural jams and jellies.

I stood in that aisle for a few minutes longer than I would have liked. I settled on a non-organic product, before realizing that other options were available. Although organic products tend to be more expensive I am willing to pay more for them. This is especially true for food that my son will consume on a regular basis and although I hate to admit it; peanut butter and jelly top the list of things my son eats regularly.

I wasn’t familiar with any of the available brands, so I read the labels on a number of jars, checked the prices and ultimately settled on a brand that was on sale. The final price: $3.99. A similar product with the same flavor and size was also available for $3.99, (regularly priced), but I settled on the more expensive brand because it just looked tastier.

When I reached the self checkout lane I noticed the register didn’t reflect the sale price. There was a long line growing behind me and I chose not to hold up the other customers by trying to figure out the problem. It was only 50 cents more per jar, (I bought two), and for one dollar it didn’t seem worth the hassle.

I began to walk out of the store, but I felt irritated by the whole scenario. I wasted time comparing sizes, flavors and prices. If the little sale flag hadn’t been hanging off the shelf I would have purchased the other brand of organic jelly without any question.

In general I have a rule about approaching customer service; since time is just as valuable, if not more so, than money I will not wait an inordinate amount of time to save a dollar. I glanced at the customer service area and found only one customer standing in line counting out change. I just happened to approach the counter as she pushed forward her last penny and the cashier asked how she could assist me.

I explained the situation and the cashier stepped out without saying a word about what she was doing. I immediately wished I hadn’t approached the counter. I didn’t want to wait ten minutes for the clerk to find the item, look at the price tag and make a decision on whether or not I was owed one dollar.

But as I waited in line I noticed a large sign hanging on the wall that said pricing errors will result in the first item being provided free of charge. Lucky for me the cashier returned within two short minutes, (yes I kept close note of the time), and offered to refund the full cost of the first item plus provided fifty cents back on the second.

Those two minutes, (probably three or four by the time she actually refunded the money), resulted in a $4.99 refund. In essence, I received one jar of organic jelly for free.

It certainly helps to know and understand a store’s policies. I am much more likely to take the time to resolve issues with customer service if I know a two minute wait could earn a $4.99 refund instead of $1.00.

Photo Credit

October 30, 2014 at 4:49 PM 1 comment

LeapFrog LeapReader Plus Free Book for $31.99

LeapReaderI’ve been keeping my eye on LeapFrog LeapReaders for my three year old son and finally spotted a deal. Amazon is currently featuring $5 off LeapReaders plus a free book or flash card set with purchase.

Simply click the link above. Choose the LeapReader you prefer, (pink or green), then check the box to the left of the free item you’d like to add.

You will NOT see the discounted price until you reach the checkout page. Please note Amazon prices change quite frequently, so make sure the price and deal are valid before proceeding through checkout.

I chose the LeapFrog LeapReader Learn to Read, Volume 1 (works with Tag) as my free gift, which typically costs $14.43. I saved $19.43 after the free gift and $5 discount.

October 20, 2014 at 11:55 AM Leave a comment

When Money Saving Tricks Fail

As I was waiting in line at my local TJ Maxx I watched a woman scurry over to the checkout counter. “Can I leave this here?,” she asked, rolling an oversized piece of luggage into a corner next to the carts. A few minutes later she reappeared. “Can I leave this here too?,” she asked laying a toy on top of the luggage. While I waited in line the woman returned two more times creating a nice little stack of items she wished to purchase.

I thought it was odd. Why not just take a cart and dump your stuff inside as you shop? The store was quite large and she was gathering stuff all the way from the far back corner and walking it all the way to the front of the store. It seemed like a ridiculous waste of time.

shopping carts

Eventually the cashier got annoyed with the pile she created and suggested that the woman take a cart. “Oh no I couldn’t,” she said. “I can’t be trusted with a cart. I know my limits and try to stick to whatever I can carry.”

In theory it was a great idea. Shopping without a cart forces you to think more thoroughly about each and every purchase. You have to really want something to lug it around the store with you.

It was clear that this woman wanted to avoid unnecessary purchases, but she’d found a loophole with her own plan to save money. Sure she didn’t have a shopping cart, but she certainly wasn’t carrying everything she intended to purchase in her own two hands and walking around the store with it. If anything she was buying more than a cart would hold, because the luggage would have taken a significant amount of space and left little room for anything else.

I really wanted to stick around to see how many items she finally purchased, but instead I grabbed a bite to eat inside the mall.  Thirty minutes later as I walked back through the store to get to my car I noticed the woman was still shopping and her pile at the front of the store had grown into a sizable mound.

I completely understand the desire to trick yourself into spending less, but this woman’s approach was clearly not working. I’m sure she burned a few extra calories shopping this way, but I don’t think she spent less money.

What do you think? Do you have tricks for saving money? Do you ever find yourself creating loopholes so you can continue to spend?

Photo Credit

December 11, 2013 at 4:48 PM Leave a comment

Do You Have a Shopping Vice?

Christmas Tree

Did you ever have one of those moments where you look down in your shopping bag and wonder what on earth you just bought? Maybe you don’t regret the purchase right away, maybe it creeps up on you months later when you look at that awful orange dress hanging in the closet or the ridiculously expensive purse hanging on a hook that you’ve never found an occasion to wear.

My downfall has always been holiday decorations. I suppose it’s the wanna-be Martha Stewart in me. Whenever Christmas rolls around the sparkle of Santa and reindeer always catches my eye. Of course, every time I get home and plop new holiday knickknacks and doodads onto the dining room table I instantly regret my purchases. Two or three days later I trot off to the store, wait in a long line and hand over whatever it was that I really didn’t need in the first place.

I don’t have the space to store all of these items. In the past I shoved them into crawl spaces in our house, but typically forgot to retrieve them when the holiday finally rolled around.

I used to return a lot of the things I bought. Probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 to 50%. Sometimes I didn’t have enough time to try something on before leaving the store, other times I tried the item on in the store but couldn’t decide if I really looked good in it. Still other times I just couldn’t ignore the lure of something bright and sparkly. Wouldn’t that Santa look so cute on my dining room table? Couldn’t I fill that bright red bowl with beautiful Christmas decorations?

I always kept the tags attached and the receipts filed in my handy-dandy, ever so organized plastic binder, but wouldn’t life but so much easier if I stopped buying stuff that would eventually be returned? If I stopped wasting money on stuff I never really needed in the first place. Yes, of course it would.

So this year I am making a vow to avoid the lure of ridiculously overpriced decorations that are used for such a short time each year. No more glittery orange pumpkins or Santa Claus figurines. Doesn’t everyone need a turkey on their mantle or a large ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ wreath of leaves on their front door? No. It turns out I don’t need them either.

It’s tough to ignore the decorations popping up in every store’s entryway, but this year I’m bound and determined not to buy anything I don’t need. For the time being I’m able to pass by the table wrapped in shiny silver and red without batting an eye.

I remind myself that I don’t like to dust, don’t want to find a place to store new knickknacks and above all else I don’t want to find myself back in line returning something I don’t need.

I suppose I should count my blessings. As far as shopping vices go I suppose the lure of holiday decorations is pretty benign. Do you have a shopping vice? Something that you find yourself buying even when you know you shouldn’t?

November 11, 2013 at 10:24 AM 1 comment

Consignment Sales Are Not For Me


Last week I heard about a local consignment sale going on in my area. My son doesn’t need much these days, but for some reason I convinced myself to take a few minutes out of my day to poke around the place. I went alone, (my husband was kindly babysitting), so I had plenty of time to look around without rushing. I was actually a little less interested in buying then I was in scoping out prices. If we don’t have a second child I’ll have a lot of baby items to sell next year.

A lot of the bigger ticket items like swings, strollers and bouncy seats were tagged with prices about 20% lower than what you might find at Amazon. If you want to buy second hand to save the environment, the earth and the landfills than I can see why you might purchase something used, but in my case a 20% discount is not worth buying used. A lot of the items were clearly worn. Since none of the items were plugged in and very few had batteries I couldn’t try them out. I couldn’t see how the swing would move or how much the bouncy seats vibrated. The same could be said for the mound of children’s toys that didn’t contain batteries. If I got one home and decided the item didn’t work, I was out of luck, which is just another reason I wouldn’t buy there.

After looking at used baby equipment I took a look at the racks of baby and toddler clothes. There was a surprising number of boys items available, typically these types of sales have racks of clothes for little girls and almost nothing for little boys. About a quarter of the used clothes were actually in good condition. There was also quite a few items with the tags still attached, but again the overall prices were quite high.  I find brand new items for less, by waiting until the season begins, scouring the clearance section and using coupons.

The average price for a decent pair of 18-24 month pants was between $8 and $10. Some were listed even higher. I often purchase brand new pants for less than that.

This is the first consignment sale I’ve been to, but I’ve seen the same thing when browsing consignment stores in our area. The prices appear to be equal to or higher than the bargains I can find for new items online and in store.

So tell me, am I the only one who thinks consignment store prices are remarkably high? Has anyone ever walked away from these sales feeling like they found good bargains?

October 28, 2013 at 5:17 PM 6 comments

One Reason It Pays Not to Be Size 6


A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, is a perfect size 6. You know the cute little sizes all the store mannequins wear? Yup, a size 6. She can walk into any store and find a plethora of shirts, dresses and sweaters that mold perfectly to her build. When we went wedding dress shopping she tried on half the gowns in the store and found they all fit like a glove, almost no alterations needed. You know the cute, little shoes that sit on top of the displays in department stores, yup, those all fit her too.

I always thought those size 6 women were so lucky. How amazing would it feel to walk into a store and walk out with bags full of clothes that fit so perfectly? The same is never true for me. I am rather impossible to fit. Although the fashion industry employs models with super long legs, there are actually few stores that make clothing for tall women. For years I shopped in the men’s department at the gap. It was the only place I could find pants that would fit a 36 inch inseam.

Needless to say shopping has never been fun for me. I’m not the kind of girl who owns fifty pairs of shoes or wears a different outfit for every day of the year. It’s not necessarily that I didn’t want to own a lot of clothes, but rather that I could never find any to fit me. I can walk into a dressing room with 50 articles of clothing and not find a single item that fits. I can’t tell you how often I leave a store empty handed.

In the past I dreamed of being a perfect size 6!

These days I have a different outlook on things. A medical crisis transformed my notion of what’s important in life and fitting into everything I try on is certainly not high on my list.  I now try to lead a minimalist lifestyle and I’m happy that my dressers are moderately empty. Although it’s probably not a good sign when your husband comments on the fact that you wear the same five shirts week after week.

In fact, as I look at my friend’s closets I see a bunch of stuff. Stuff that she couldn’t resist buying. Stuff that she is literally running out of space to store. Stuff that she spent a lot of money on. Perhaps it’s good not to be a size 6 after all. If nothing else my lack of clothing options has saved me a significant amount of money over the long haul.

*Photo Credit: Eran Bendheim

October 4, 2013 at 5:03 PM Leave a comment

Lured by the $1 Deals at Target

Last night, after my husband came home from work and we all ate dinner, I grabbed my wallet and sneakers and drove over to Target. I had a very clear agenda in mind: step into target and walk directly to the aisle with pool toys.

In mid to late summer you can typically find really great bargains on summer gear. In the past I’ve found sales offering up to 75% off. I like to buy floats and sand toys for guests who stay in my beach home each year. I want our renters to enjoy their stay as much as possible and what better way to enjoy a beach home then by spending the day digging in the sand or floating in the pool.

Sand toys tend to last from season to season, but unfortunately pool floats are an ongoing expense. Young kids can destroy even the most well made ones in a matter of days. I started purchasing the swimways spring floats a few years ago. They can cost as much as $25 at the peak of the summer season, but I like how they are constructed and how they have fewer components that kids can accidentally puncture.

I walked into the store with a very short time limit, (I needed to get home to help put my son to bed), and a very specific purpose, yet the minute I looked up from my cart I found myself perusing the $1 deal aisles.

Oh how those $1 deals lure me. On principal I try to avoid this particular section of the store. My reasons are twofold. First, I don’t typically need anything I find there and second most of the items are poorly made, but last night I could not resist the lure.

Once or twice a week I give my son play-dough as an after breakfast activity. Up until this point he shows interest in pulling the dough out of the container and squishing it, but after a minute or so he seems quite bored of it. I found all sorts of old cookie cutters to make shapes, but even the smallest ones seem quite big for his hands.

In the $1 section of Target I found a tiny bag of plastic cookie cutter like objects that were perfect for play-dough. They were brightly colored and just the right size for my son’s hands.  I put them in my cart then reconsidered after thinking they looked like cheap plastic that could easily break or at the very least end up in the landfill within a very short period of time. I walked around to the other side of the aisle and then walked back because I just couldn’t resist them.

I couldn’t find any pool floats on sale, but I picked up a few groceries in the store and waited in line to check out. As I stood there I kept eying that bag of cookie cutter shapes and trying to decide if I really wanted to buy them. It wasn’t so much about spending a dollar as it was about buying something that I know won’t last. When I reached the checkout counter I set aside my beliefs about money and the environment and let this one little bag of toys go.

This morning I pulled out that tiny bag of cookie cutter shapes and showed my son three or four of them. He chuckled in this ridiculous way he does when he’s unbelievably happy and played with play-dough for over an hour. He loved pressing those shapes into the dough and picked them up and pressed them back in over and over. He kept saying two-til, two-til, which is his version of turtle, but he was equally excited about all of the little shapes I gave him.

Was the bag of toys worth it’s $1 price tag? Probably not. Will the environment suffer a little? Possibly. Am I glad I purchased them anyway? Most definitely!

July 23, 2013 at 5:54 PM Leave a comment

Price Changes and Crappy Return Policies

We have been blessed by box after box of hand-me-downs from friends and family. It’s been a true blessing because my son seems to outgrow his clothes ridiculously quickly.

At the current time he’s an odd fit. He has a very long torso, but he’s skinny and has relatively short legs. At least it seems that way because his shirts are always showing his belly, his pants are always slipping off his waist and his shorts somehow look like pants even though he’s taller than 99% of other children (according to his medical charts).

While I’ve received a lot of pants and shorts for my son I didn’t receive too many shirts. At least I haven’t since he grew out of 12 month sizes. If you are going to receive only pants or shirts I think pants are the best thing to get. They tend to be neutral in color so as long as they fit he can wear them and they can be paired with an adorable shirt.

I take a lot of photographs of my son each week. I’ve taken thousands since his birth and I will admit that I like to dress him in color shirts that look good on camera. Also, boys clothes tend to be rather boring, when compared to clothes for little girls, so I want to dress him in bright colorful clothing while I can. By the time he’s four or five the colors and designs are quite boring.

While I have found some items at thrift stores, for some reason mine local store has a plethora of adorable hawaiian shirts, I haven’t found much in the way of colorful shirts that I want to photograph my son wearing. I tend to buy deeply discounted items at local department stores as well as TJ Maxx and Ross. I’ve also bought a few items at Gymboree.

I like the quality of Gymboree clothing, but the way they constantly lower and raise prices drives me crazy.  One day the shirt you want to buy is on sale for $9.99 and the next it’s $15. The next day they hold a 40% off sale, two days later it’s only 30% off and the next it’s back to full price.

It makes me bonkers to buy my son anything there. I’ve actually decided if I want to shop there I can never look back online at the same items again. I tracked the changes for one item over the course of two weeks and found a difference in over $6. Imagine how this adds up as you buy more and more things.

I recently bought a bunch of items for my son and then cursed myself when all of the items went on sale two weeks later.  I decided to return the original items and then buy everything again as it would save me over $25.

I drove to the store last night to return the items. It had only been a few weeks since I made the purchase so I was within the boundaries of the return policies, but I was unable to receive a credit back to my card. Since the time of that purchase my credit card was compromised and the credit could only be issued to the card I originally used. I was angry, since it’s not my fault the card was compromised, but I was okay with receiving a merchandise card that could be used in store or online instead.

Apparently that wasn’t possible. According to the clerk I could only receive a merchandise credit that can be used in store. I’m not a fan of in store only cards since I tend to perform 90% of my shopping online.

When I inquired further I was told that there is a significant amount of fraud at Gymboree stores. As a result they will not issue a card that can be used online. They will only offer you one that can be used in the store.

Huh? I don’t understand the policy. What difference does it make if you are purchasing in store or online? If the store believes you are committing fraud they can certainly keep track of your purchases just as easily online as they can in the store, so why not issue a card that can be used online?

Is anyone familiar with this type of store policy? I’m sure there is reasoning behind the decision but I can’t imagine what it is.

May 8, 2013 at 2:21 PM 5 comments

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