Heading Out on Your Own — Day 24: How to Be a Savvy Consumer

by Brett & Kate McKay on August 24, 2012 · 26 comments

in Heading Out On Your Own

We’ve talked before about how as men, we should strive to create more, and consume less. But less doesn’t mean nothing. Unless you’re Dick Proenneke, you’re going to spend most of your life as a consumer of goods and services like cars, clothes, healthcare, and even your education.

Never in human history have there been so many choices as to what to spend your money on. And never have marketing tactics to get you to buy those things been so sophisticated. Every time you swipe a store loyalty card, use your smart phone, log into Facebook, or surf the net, companies are mining this data, gathering information on your address, family size, education and income level, favorite books, movies, and hobbies, and history of purchasing behavior. This data is then fed into complex algorithms that craft ways to target you with ads and mailings pitched to your specific hopes, dreams, and insecurities. Corporations have you in their sights.

Now, I don’t want to paint too sinister a face on it – companies are simply offering products and services that people want – but to the degree that marketers track you, they are essentially “predators” on the hunt. They don’t want to eat you, certainly (you’re much more valuable alive!), they just want to burrow into your mind and get you to buy their stuff. They’ve got millions of dollars and sophisticated tools at their disposal, so the playing field is far from level, but as the “prey,” you can definitely put up a fight. You need to be educated and empowered, an informed savvy consumer who doesn’t buy mindlessly on impulse and end up with a house full of useless or non-functioning junk and a mountain of debt. The informed savvy consumer makes his purchases on his terms and does his homework to make sure he doesn’t get ripped off, receives the most bang for his buck, and only buys what he truly wants and needs.

Understand the Principle of Value vs. Price

A few years ago, we did a project where we asked AoM readers to write up “Lessons in Manliness” profiles on the ordinary men in our lives, describing how these mentors embodied manliness and inspired us. We then compiled these profiles into a free ebook.

Something that I remember really striking me at the time was how many of the profiles mentioned that the man in question always made purchases based on the quality of a product rather than simply its price. When making a purchasing decision, they looked for things that would last.

My grandfather was this kind of savvy consumer, and yours probably was (or is) too. He 1) Didn’t care about amassing a lot of possessions, but wanted the possessions he did have to do their job and bring him enjoyment, and 2) he understood that just because something was cheap, didn’t make it a bargain. To figure out the true value of something, he looked beyond the sticker price, to the price per use.

Gauging Price per Use

Let’s start with the example of a leather briefcase. Bob shops on price and buys a nylon messenger bag for $50. Frank, however, buys a leather briefcase with a lifetime warranty for $500. They each use their respective bags 200 times a year. Bob’s cheap bag wears out after three years and he has to replace it. Frank’s leather bag lasts 50 years, and he hands it down to his grandson. In Bob’s case the price per use on his bag was about 8 cents (200 uses a year X 3 years divided into $50). For Frank, his cost per use is 5 cents, which will only go down as his grandson continues to use the bag. So ultimately, while Bob’s bag was initially a whole lot cheaper, in the long run Frank’s purchase will turn out to be the better deal.

Something that will also affect this equation is how often you use the product. As Darren pointed out in his truly excellent So You Want My Job interview on being the owner of an outdoors store, if someone tries to save money by buying equipment over the internet, and that equipment ends up not fitting right, it will sit in the garage gathering dust, and its cost per use will soar. If the same person had gone to their local mom and pop store, where a trained salesperson helped them pick out just the right item, one they used as much as possible and got years of enjoyment out of, the cost per use plummets, making the more expensive purchase the true bargain over time.

Another good example of this is buying a mattress — you’ll be spending a third of your life on it, so purchasing one that helps you get a deep sleep night after night is an incredible value, even if the mattress you choose is more expensive than a cheaper model that would have left you tossing and turning just to save a few bucks up front.

Generic versus Brand Name

Of course, when determining price versus value, always look into what you’re getting for the higher price. It can equate to higher quality, but certainly not always. The high price might simply go to support a brand name, a celebrity endorsement, or a big advertising budget. This is why when it comes to buying generic items over brand name ones, you have to experiment to find out what the extra cost of the well-known brand is netting you. Some generic brands are actually made in the same factory as the brand name ones, while some are cheaper because of their inferior quality. Here are a few examples:

At the grocery store:

  • Cheaper paper towels and toilet paper — you often end up having to use more sheets to get the job done. Doesn’t always pay to go cheap here.
  • Garbage bags — lift a cheap packed-to-the-max bag out of the can and be prepared to watch the bottom fall out. You only want to experience this once.
  • Store brand zip lock bags — more than adequate as they seal fine and in all probability will only be used once anyway.
  • Sugar is sugar and salt is salt.
  • Medicines — the FDA requires that the active ingredient in generic medicines be the same as brand name versions. So a generic headache medicine will work just as well as Tylenol.

In the hardware store:

  • Paint brushes — buy the best you can. They will hold more paint, be easier to work with, and last you a long time. You never want to try to draw a fine bead of paint with a junky brush that has the bristles splayed in every direction.
  • Paint — when you have to apply a second coat of paint because the first didn’t hide the original color, you’ll rue your decision to save a few bucks per gallon.
  • Drill bits — cheap ones snap or quickly become dull, resulting in your schlepping back to Home Depot in order to finish drilling the last 3/8″ hole in your project. Alas, this is harder to realize now that almost all, if not all, drill bits come from China.

It’s hard to know whether a generic item will be as good as a brand name without trying it out. That works for garbage bags, but of course you don’t want to experiment and get burned when you’re buying a big ticket item. We’ll cover how to carefully make those higher-end purchases below.

Don’t Be Dazzled by Features

Marketing expert Martin Lindstrom says that while men believe they don’t let their feelings get in the way of their purchasing decisions, their shopping behavior is best defined as “emorational.” Women do make more emotional purchases than men in general, but men often disguise their emotional impulse to buy by concentrating on the practical features of a product. Men like to learn about something’s specs, and can rationalize that getting a more expensive product with a ton of features makes sense. In reality, it’s often the coolness of the product — the way he imagines owning it will make him feel — that is luring him. Paying a hundred dollars more for something with twelve features when you only need two isn’t a good value.

Of course when you’re first starting out in life, you often can’t afford the higher upfront costs of quality products, and you shouldn’t go into debt to get them. Try to make your cheaper products last as long as possible; don’t buy a replacement if it’s not broken, and try to fix it to extend its life. The longer you use it, the more time you’ll have to save up for a quality item that will last.

To sum up: instead of purchasing a lot of crap, a savvy consumers gets a few good things that will bring him a lifetime of utility and enjoyment.

Research, Research, Research

Before making any big purchase or contracting a service, a savvy consumer does as much research as they can. Your goal is to find out if the product will give you the most bang for your buck and will satisfy your demands for quality and safety. If you’re buying a product, just Google the name of it, as specifically as you can, plus “review.” If you’re buying an appliance, try hopping on Amazon or BestBuy and read the reviews there. For electronics, cnet.com is the place to go. You’ll need to use your discernment and have some patience with reviews offered by the public; up to 30% of the reviews may be fake — created by the company that makes the product or the guy who offers the service. Also keep in mind that people who were unhappy are more likely to leave a review than those who were pleased. I like to read a few reviews in the highest, lowest, and in-between categories and then kind of average them together in my mind to get an overall feel for how the product most likely really is.

There are also sites and publications that offer reviews for specific products. For example, Edmunds.com and Car and Driver are great for researching vehicle purchases.

It might even be worth it in some cases to pay for one month’s access to Consumer Reports online reviews. I’ve done this when buying things like computers and washers/dryers.

When shopping for a specific brand name item use Google Shopping to find the lowest price, then use Bizrate.com to check on the merchant’s reputation. It is not worth saving a few dollars if you end up hassling with a sleazy vendor.

If you’re researching a service provider, Angie’s List is the way to go. Look for someone who gets high marks on quality, reliability, and price. It also doesn’t hurt to ask your friends, family, and co-workers for recommendations too. In many cases, posing a question on Facebook to you local friends and family about reliable providers will net you better results than any search engine could.

Get Price Quotes from Several Businesses Before Making a Purchase

When it comes to hiring someone to perform a service, it really pays to shop around, as prices can vary widely. Again, a lower price may mean lower quality, while at the same time you don’t want to assume that if something is more expensive, it’s automatically better.

Getting multiple quotes allows you to make service providers compete against each other. If there’s a guy you want to use for various reasons, but another guy gives you a lower price, you can always go back to the first guy and say, “This is guy’s willing to do it for X, can you match that price?”

Yes, shopping around does take a bit of extra time, but it’s totally worth it if it means you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Learn How to Negotiate

For most young men in America, negotiating is a completely foreign concept. We’re socialized into thinking that you simply pay the price offered and that it’s rude to haggle. But if you want your dollar to go as far as it can, you need to learn how to negotiate. This skill can save you a ton of money over your lifetime. Is staying in your comfort zone really worth thousands of dollars that you basically threw out the window?

Some of your biggest purchases in your life will require you to negotiate — cars and homes being the most obvious. But even if you’re not in the market yet for these big ticket items, knowing how to negotiate can still serve you well. Everything from your car insurance rate to your gym membership is negotiable.

Last year, Tyler Tervooren wrote an amazingly comprehensive guide to haggling for us. I highly recommend giving it a read. Also, check out Getting to Yes — the book is crammed with tips on how to negotiate like a pro.

Ignore Up-Sales

When you walk into a store or even shop online, businesses want you to spend more money than you originally planned on. To encourage you to open your wallet, they use a technique called up-selling. Up-selling means suggesting upgrades, add-ons, and additional services to customers right before they pay for their original purchase. It’s amazingly effective when done right. Studies show that sales can increase by as much as 40% simply by implementing up-selling at the point of purchase.

You encounter up-selling all the time, but may not have known what it was called. It’s especially common practice at restaurants. After she brings out your drinks, the waitress will probably say something like, “Would you gentlemen like to try to some of our amazing fried pickles as an appetizer?” You just got up-sold.

Whenever you shop on Amazon.com, you probably see a list of items that other customers bought who also bought the book you’re buying. That’s another example of up-selling.

Those types of up-sells are rather benign and can actually be useful. I can’t count the number of times I discovered a fantastic book thanks to Amazon’s suggestions. But you don’t want to be lured into buying something you don’t need or don’t have the money for.

The up-sells savvy consumers really need to watch for occur when you buy large appliances or computers.

Think back to the last time you bought a computer or some other expensive gizmo. You’ve got the product at the checkout counter and before the clerk rings you up he asks, “Would you like to buy an extended warranty? It’s only $25 and it will protect you even if you throw your laptop into a volcano as some sort of sacrifice.” As a general rule, a savvy consumer should decline most extended warranty offers. You probably won’t need it; the manufacturer’s warranty is usually sufficient. Companies know the chances that you’ll actually use the warranty are slim, which is why they push them so hard. In fact, more than 80% of extended warranties go unused. So if a company can sell you one, it’s often pure profit for them.

Also, watch out for up-sells in the form of add-ons you really don’t need. For example, whenever you buy an HDTV, you’ll probably be told by the guy at BestBuy that you need to get some special $75 HDTV surge protector as well as diamond encased HDMI cables to ensure the best possible resolution. According to my brother, who once worked at Best Buy, you should always, always say no to this stuff. “They don’t do anything. The profit margins on them are high. That’s why we’re told to recommend them,” he says.

Bottom line: know exactly what you want before making a purchase, and don’t give in to high pressure up-sells.

Read Contracts Before Signing

Renting an apartment, joining a gym, getting cell phone service, and purchasing health insurance are just a few of the services and products that require us to sign a contract. These agreements legally obligate you and the other party to fulfill certain terms. Failing to stick to your end of the contract can result in stiff penalties and possibly a lawsuit. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to thoroughly read a contract before you sign your name on the dotted line.

Unfortunately, many people don’t even bother to read contracts because they are long and sometimes overwhelming. While it’s a pain in the rear, get in the habit of reading all contracts before you sign them. If you have to, take it home and read it when you have more time. While you’re reading, look for the following things:

  • How much and when will you pay?
  • How long does the contract last?
  • What are the penalties and consequences if one side doesn’t stick to the agreement?
  • How does the contract end? Is there an auto-renewal? And if so, how can you stop it if you no longer want the service?
  • What are the causes of terminating the contract?
  • How are contract disputes resolved? Arbitration? Mediation? Courts?
  • Are all the blanks filled in? Oftentimes contracts will have blank spaces where prices and dates are filled in. Make sure those spaces are filled in before signing so that someone can’t make any changes without your knowledge.
  • Are all the oral and handshake agreements written in the contract?

Don’t be afraid to ask any questions. Also, if you find any terms that you don’t agree with, ask that they be changed. Before you sign, any of the terms in the contract are negotiable.

After you sign the contract, make sure you get copies of it for your records, which brings us to…

Keep Your Receipts, Agreements, Contracts, Etc.

Before you purchase something, you should always find out exactly what the store’s return policy is, and after your purchase, you need to hold onto your receipt. If you ever have a problem with a product or service and want to make a return or complaint, you’ll need it, along with any contracts you may have signed. So get in the habit of putting your receipts and agreements in a folder for safe keeping. Never again will you have to rummage through your car or random drawers looking for the receipt for your defunct TV.

Better yet, digitize all your receipts and contracts and store them in the cloud. I’m slowly making this a habit. I’m using the Evernote app on my iPhone to quickly snap photos of receipts and tagging them with “receipt.” I scan large documents like contracts directly into Evernote on my laptop. Now I don’t have to worry about misplacing receipts, and I have access to them anytime and anywhere.

Have any other tips on being a savvy consumer? Share them with us in the comments!

 

 

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 michael August 25, 2012 at 12:03 am

Savvy tip #1: Don’t buy it. You don’t need it and can do with what you have.
Savvy tip #2: ok, you really want it? then read the post above.

2 JohnPJ August 25, 2012 at 4:14 am

Nice Dick Proenneke reference! I was actually gonna suggest that Brett, write an article about him, he was definitely a real man.

3 Steve August 25, 2012 at 6:02 am

One thing to note in regards to receipts…most receipts are printed on thermal paper which over time degrade. If you aren’t going to digitize these then make a photocopy so when you need the receipt in 12-18 months you can actually read it.

4 2whls3spds August 25, 2012 at 6:11 am

There are still US made drill bits, but getting the Chinamarts ie; HomeDepot, Lowes, etc. to carry them is the challenge. I buy the Norseman Bits made in St. Paul, MN, USA.

Aaron

5 Jeff August 25, 2012 at 6:46 am

Great article! I posted it at work for some of the younger guys in my office to read (of course, giving TAoM credit).

6 Doug August 25, 2012 at 8:53 am

I keep a ‘wants’ list in a drawer in my desk to help take the emotion out of discretionary purchases. When I see an ad or a store display that really grabs my attention, I write the name of the item down along with the price, and then go back to it after a few weeks have passed to make a decision on whether or not I want to spend the money on it.

7 Zsolt Beres August 25, 2012 at 9:57 am

Great read. Especially enjoyed the part about negotiating, I have a hard time doing that.

8 caleb August 25, 2012 at 10:11 am

The best thing about reading contacts is that it makes the salesman nervous.

9 Henrik August 25, 2012 at 10:35 am

I would perhaps add a paragraph on why and how to plan grocery shopping. Most stores have a weekly paper with current offers, special promotions et cetera, and it can probably be found online as well. By using this, and planning purchases, you’ll be able to stock up on products you know you’ll use within a reasonable time frame, and save some money.

10 David August 25, 2012 at 11:00 am

You mentioned that it might be worth it in some cases to pay for access to Consumer Reports to do research on some purchases. Before doing that you should check consumersearch.com – they do the same thing but their reviews are available for free (ConsumerSearch is connected to About.com).

11 Jim Collins August 25, 2012 at 11:36 am

Esteemed Readers, Brett, and Kate,

I do think that the following points are worth considering in a value/price analysis.

1) We are always paying interest. The price of the briefcase came out of a pool of money on which you are either paying interest or just as important, on which you could be paid interest. We do not of course know what the price of liquidity (that’s interest) will be. Let’s approximate the cost of a briefcase over fifty years. The $50 dollar briefcase assumed to last three years costs $16.67/year in depreciation. The $500 dollar brief case assumed to last fifty years costs $10.00/year in depreciation. Let’s assume a %10 annual interest rate. Calculating the interest compounded annually with depreciation gives the cost of a succession of $50 briefcases at the end of 50 years to be $26,000 while the cost of the single $500 briefcase is $71,000. Oh my — how I love the councel of numbers!

2) Disaster risk management. It’s not a pleasant thought but the briefcase runs a risk of being lost or stolen. It can also be subject to catastrophic disaster; so can the briefcase’s owner. The wisdom of the ancients tells us that chance partakes of all things.

The reason I chose the fine leather briefcase is that I value beauty.

Respectfully,

Jim Collins

12 mark puckett August 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I always check places like pawn shops, flea markets, yard sales or online such as craigslist/ebay. Many quality tools,aplliances and larger purchases can be found for pennies on the dollar compared to new. Also quality of the item may be much better than a newer version due to manufacturing standards and materials used “back in the day”

13 Richard August 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm

@Jim. “The price of the briefcase came out of a pool of money on which you are either paying interest or just as important, on which you could be paid interest.” Operative word: “could”. You presume that the $450 saved by not buying the more expensive briefcase would be invested and would remain invested for 50 years. But if the money saved was instead spent on a plane ticket or a new suit then there is no investment and the briefcase buyer simply ends up buying 16+ $50 briefcases (disregarding price inflation) over the next 50 years.

By the way, please tell me where I can get a guaranteed annual return of 10%? The stock market? At the end of 2011 the 15-year return — from the end of 1996 — was just 3 percent. And most of those gains came in the first three years of the period.

14 Derek August 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Good article. I was raised to be thrifty, and literally cannot comprehend people who, say, sit in class and buy things online.

However, I’m still on uncertain ground regarding the “$50 vs $500 briefcase” argument. To me, even $50 is a lot to pay for a briefcase. Now, I understand that in theory, it should be cheaper in the long run, but there’s such a fine line between wanting quality for its durability and wanting quality for its own sake.

Frankly, even cheap things can last. I’m a junior in college and I’ve been using the same binders and folders since 7th grade.

I would love to be able to buy a hand-crafted briefcase or pair of boots, but I’m not going to kid myself and say it’s being savvy and economic. However, it’s also not pure vanity. It’s the desire to buy something with authenticity – something so rarely found in today’s mass-produced society.

15 Alex August 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm

@ Jim Collins

While the interest and opportunity costs are an important part of the calculation, your analysis overlooks an important practicality, namely, inflation. For your cheap briefcase succession to actually work out to $26,000, you have to be able to buy a new briefcase that will last just as long as the last one (presumably 3 years) for only 50 dollars. It would be like assuming that you could buy a cheap briefcase today for the price of the same case in 1962.

16 Jim Collins August 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Esteemed Alex, Kate, Brett, and Readers,

I stand corrected by Alex’s point– thank-you.

It does raise the interesting question of how one would calculate the depreciation of the longer lasting briefcase. Ought it to be as 1/50th of the current replacement cost or of the original cost? The depreciation question is simpler for the cheaper briefcase as one is depreciating more or less current dollars.

When I apply the U.S. Consumer Price index for the last fifty years I find that the $50 briefcase and the $500 briefcase would inflate to $223 and $2230 respectively. This corresponds to an average inflation rate of 3.05%. Assuming the same interest of 10% I used in my last post the cost after fifty years is $33,000 for the succession of cheap briefcases while the $500 briefcase costs $65,000 over fifty years if one depreciates the original cost and $70,000 if one depreciates at the replacement cost. The original outlay still dominates the long term cost.

Thank you once again for your cogent point. Even better than the counsel of numbers is the counsel of thoughtful people such as yourself.

Jim Collins

17 Jim Collins August 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Esteemed Richard, Kate, Brett, and Readers,

First Richard, I apologize for responding to the posts out of order. Alex’s post displaced my attention.

One need not assume the $450 is invested. If it is, then it’s making you money. If it’s not, then it’s either interest lost or it’s interest you are paying because of it not being applied to lessening the debt on which you’re paying interest. There is a lost potential in that plane ride on which you will always pay interest. If we’re lucky and good the plane ride offers more potential either in the joy of the experience or perhaps in furthering professional goals.

With respect to guaranteed investments, there are none and never have been. I chose a time frame commensurate with the posited durability of the briefcase and over the past fifty years 10% average return on a portfolio is a relatively conservative. It is a common rule of thumb that if a business doesn’t return 15% on capital that it’s better to let the money work elsewhere.

I would like to reiterate that in spite of these numbers I chose the beautiful briefcase. I’m looking forward to a plane taking me to see loved ones and that I can’t personally realize fifty years of returns – my mortality limits me.

Thank you for your clarifying questions.

Jim Collins

18 Paul August 25, 2012 at 6:05 pm

In my job at the grocery store we occassionally do a promotion for some kitchenware in which we offer a card to be filled with stickers depending on how much our customers spend, and after filling up a certain number of cards, we can redeem them for a pot or pan. In our current promotion, we issue a sticker for every $10.00 spent and the card is filled with ten stickers. Each filled card gets a $4.00 discount on the chosen kitchenware, which means that to get the $40.00 stockpot for free, the customer would have to spend $1000.00 in groceries!

An a not on generic brand names – some names are generic in one region but not in others. My store carries Best Choice which is a generic brand in the south, but in my mom’s home state of Michigan, its a high-end brand. Also, we have accidentally received our competitor’s store brand by mistake, from the same warehouse that supplies us.

19 Doc August 26, 2012 at 12:17 am

With regards to generic drugs, I would be careful. I am not 100% sure of the rules in the US, but I suspect they are not much different from the rest of the western world. This would mean that the generic only has to meet certain pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic criteria for similarity, not “same-ness”.

While this sounds like nit-picking, it can result in significant variances. For drugs like (most, not all) antibiotics, a variance of 10-20% in received dosage is probably not going to make a difference, but for antidepressants, and cardiac drugs (as examples), a 5% difference can affect efficacy or side effects.

In one American report, the 150mg dosage of Wellbutrin XL from one generic company was approved by the FDA after analysis, with the 300mg approved without analysis, the assumption being that it would also meet standards. The 150mg dosage worked properly, with appropriate extended-release characteristics, however the 300mg version released the entire drug dose within a couple of hours. Numerous patients were adversely affected by this.

In a Canadian report, different generic versions of ramipril (an antihypertensive) contained varying doses of the drug, with one batch containing no active ingredient whatsoever.

The bottom line is that I tell my patients that they should always watch for a change in their health and symptoms if they notice that the manufacturer of their medication has changed. Generics aren’t necessarily bad, but it’s important to understand the difference in standards.

20 Hunter August 26, 2012 at 11:11 am

@Mark (#11): Hear, hear for making purchases at yard sales, thrift stores, etc.!

Especially when first starting out, it makes so much sense to buy used stuff. You can buy a new cheap (crummy) vacuum at a department store for $100, or pony up $600 for a really nice new one (highly doubtful), or go to a thrift store and buy a decent vacuum that originally cost $150 or so and you pay $20 for it. Americans love to buy shiny, new, better things, when their old ones work just fine–those end up at the local charity shop!

21 Alex August 26, 2012 at 12:15 pm

@Jim

I didn’t expect the inflation issue to overturn the result, but it does make for a better model.

Thank you for a thoughtful and courteous response.

22 Ty August 27, 2012 at 1:44 am

It’s interested that some people include inflation in considering the cost of the briefcase. The more realistic things (IMO) to use are:
1. Initial loss of value after the first use (also applicable to buying new cars and equipment)
2. Recursive cost of buying the cheaper briefcase after investment.
3. Change in technology/fashion styles rendering objects obsolete/resale worthless. Although the bag could become a family heirloom.

So if the lesser briefcase lasts three years, you’d could theoretically assume you’d need to replace it every 3 years. So let’s say you put the $450 in a CD at 5% interest a year, over the three years you’d have $520.93 assuming ($450 with no additions, compounded yearly for 3 years, not factoring in inflation). Now you’re ahead ~$20 (less after taxes and whatnot).

As a person who’s just started out I’d say the most important thing before even being a savvy consumer is a strict saver. Once you have a little money saved up then you can think about spending money on luxuries. I know people who don’t manage their money well and often get overdraft fees on their accounts because of it. So on top of having no money until their next paycheck comes, they’re actually in the red until it does and those penalties add up. It’s easier to make money with money and a lot of young people don’t realize that.

Many of the things the articles list that you can save on are really commodities rather than necessities. One of the easiest ways to save money early on is to recycle. Why buy trash bags when you could just as easily use the plastic bags you get from groceries (doublebag and make more trips to the trashcan but you save money)? Reusuable tupperware is much better than ziploc bags; there are few things you can store in bags that you can’t store in tupperware.

23 Chase August 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm

A wise man once told me, never skimp on things that come between you and the pavement (namely shoes and tires). I’ve used that advice time and again and it’s paid off. I’ve also disregarded that advice a time or two and I’ve paid for it in the long run.

24 Christine August 27, 2012 at 10:16 pm

One of my big downfalls is kitchen gadgetry. A lot of the crap on those home shopping channels used to be in my kitchen, never used.

I worked out what is the best criterium to use when purchasing kitchen gadgetry – what do professional chefs use?

25 Kyle August 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm

“Instead of purchasing a lot of crap, get a few good things that will bring you a lifetime of utility and enjoyment.”

This is something I live by in all parts of my life. I’ve found more and more that no material good can bring me a lifetime of utility and enjoyment but rather it is the experience that do. Traveling is my passion and I generally want to do it for as cheap as I possibly can manage so I can do as much as possible. BUT this doesn’t mean I want to do it for the sake of doing it, I will camp or stay in a hostel and skimp on everything else if it allows me to go surfing in Sydney or skydiving in New Zealand- the experiences that will truly provide me happiness for the rest of my life by just recollecting the feeling I had doing these things. Those things are the ones I want to invest in.

26 Bob March 23, 2014 at 11:24 pm

A wise man once told me to never eat pineapple on mondays

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