The Savvy Shopper
Ten Commandments to living on a Sustainable Budget
Now that we are deep into a recession, we need to be more careful about how we spend our income, whether we are dipping into our savings or saving for a rainy day. My mother is the savviest shopper that I know. She has always thrived through recessions because quite often, regular purchases such as clothes end up costing less due to store closures and more frequent sales. If you need to shop for anything, why not tap into her advice and enjoy the thrill of bargain hunting? My husband's family took a different approach and focused more on sustainability than on consumerism. In this article, I'll share their helpful tricks and tips for saving money and living sustainable in these uncertain times.
Mom's 10 Commandments of Shopping
1. The price of a product or service is not always an indicator of quality.
2. If it sounds too good to be true, do more research. Sometimes there really are great bargains out there!
3. The zip code of the service will reflect in the price of that service. If you shop in the high-end parts of town where BMWs are more commonly seen than Fords, you will pay more than if you shop in more moderately-priced locations, even at garage sales. When we would shop at Garage Sales in Montecito (where Oprah and Ellen live), Mom would sometimes say, “wow, they are really proud of their items” because they would be more expensive than her new items purchased at factory outlet stores.
4. Everything goes on sale eventually. You just need to know where and when to look, and be patient.
5. The back of the store is usually where the bargains are.
6. There is always a less expensive way to get a service. Choices include to ‘do it yourself,’ go to an apprentice, or go for the splurge.
7. Sometimes it makes sense to spend the extra money. Get the $100 haircut when you want a new style, but go to a Super Cuts or Fantastic Sams for the $17 haircut to maintain your style.
8. You will always spend more for spa services if you purchase them at a resort or on a cruise ship. My most expensive pedicure was on Cunard’s QE2, on a transatlantic voyage. For $50, the salon ‘expert’ removed my polish, washed my feet, cut my nails, and added 3 layers of polish. No massage, no small talk. To make matters worse, the nail polish never dried, and smeared 5 hours after the service. I had to pay an additional $50 for a redo. The best pedicure was at a salon called Artistic Nails near my hometown of Goleta, California. For $25, I sat in a heated massage chair, while the salon ‘expert’ washed my feet, exfoliated, clipped my nails and cuticles, gave my legs a 10 minute massage, and then added 3 coats of polish. She even gave me a pair of flip flops so that I wouldn’t smear the polish.
9. The fewer things you own, the larger your home feels, so have garage sales and donate items you are not using.
10. Don’t skimp if it makes you feel like a martyr.
Chris' 10 Commandments of Sustainable Living in High Style
1. Take your shoes off at the front door to save in carpet cleaning costs.
2. Buy quality – it lasts longer – in clothes, shoes, etc. This is especially true nowadays as our retail stores are flooded with fast fashion items that are only meant to be worn a few times. Rather than buying fast fashion, invest in brands like LL Bean and Patagonia that stand behind their quality and rigorously test their goods.
3. Invest in items that appreciate in value such as your home, antiquities, art, stock and other financial vehicles. Do not overspend on items that depreciate like cars, furniture, and housewares. Our home is furnished with luxury goods that he inherited from his parents who in-turn, inherited them from their parents.
4. If you work in a profession that can make your clothes dirty, wear work clothes that are durable and cheap.
5. Go to brunches instead of dinners. The champagne is normally included and the meals are less expensive. Besides, you have all day to digest the food and you don’t end up sleeping on a full stomach.
6. Don’t go to Costco by yourself. You need someone to go with you to talk you out of the 25 pounds of flour and the lifetime supply of yeast.
7. Learn how to “do it yourself” by watching the Food Network, DIY, and Discovery Channels.
8. Buy the book instead of going to see the movie at the theater. The entertainment lasts longer.
9. For movie night, borrow it from the library or watch it on Netflix. Microwave the popcorn.
10.If the wife buys something he doesn’t like, put it in the closet and don’t complain. This saves in future legal fees!
About the author
Monique Littlejohn is an artist, photographer, and writer living on a hobby farm in South Australia. She shifted between Southern California and Australia for a few years before making Stirling her permanent home 4 years ago.