Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spending Trends

I really thought this recession would cause me to take a recess from spending, but it seems to have the adverse effect. Well...kind of. I'm spending more money than I've ever spent before, but what I'm spending it on has changed.

I'm not eating out as much; I'm not buying as many clothes --haven't gone to a lot of movies lately (that probably has more to do with the choices at the box office).

What I am buying is stuff I should have bought a long time ago. For example: tires for my car, new eyeglasses, a crown for my molar. I'm thinking of buying some stuff I've wanted for awhile: Microsoft Office for my Mac, a digital SLR, season tickets to the symphony and ballet. Also, it's time I frame the prints I bought a couple years ago and I keep forgetting I owe the government about $125.

These inclement economic times have also changed my behavior as a consumer. I'm doing things I've never done before. For example, for the first time in my life I have food storage. I have a bunch of food and water on a shelf downstairs in the basement and I'm still adding to it. When I see food on sale, I buy extra and take it downstairs for storage. Good for me, I say. I'm finally following that counsel from my church.

I've always been a comparison shopper and a coupon clipper so that's not new.

Here's something new: On Wednesday I returned my milk to the grocery store. Sure I've returned clothes that didn't fit or electronics that didn't work, but usually if food is bad, I just take it as a loss and toss it. But no, I buy organic milk -- it's $4 for half a gallon (actually only $2.25 with my coupon). The expiration date was freaking May 22 and my milk was SOUR. It was the most disgusting bite of cereal I've ever tasted and, as a result, I wasted a whole bowl of Grape Nut Flakes. That cereal is hard to find. And then I started to put two and two together and realized why my soup tasted funny the night before. Of course, I soured it with my milk. It didn't look clear and chunky as I was pouring it in the pot but that's how it looked in my cereal bowl that morning.

I promptly drove to Smith's Marketplace and traded it for another half gallon. I even requested milk from a different shipment (in case the whole case was rancid). No one gets away with selling me bad, organic, should-be-good-for-another-month milk these days.

I'm also a smarter, more detail-oriented shopper that works harder for what she wants. Last night I went to Burlington Coat Factory because I needed a light weight rain coat to take with me to London next month. I found this really cute London Fog trench -- in my size. Price? $150 -- marked down from $318. I knew London Fog was a nice brand, but c'mon. I wasn't going to spend $150 on a coat at Burlington Coat Factory. If I want a $150 coat I'll go to J. Crew. So I returned it to the rack and didn't look back.

I browsed around a little more. I found the exact same trench coat in an XL. For some reason I looked at the price: $49.99 marked down from $119. Hmmm...interesting. I wouldn't put it past a retail store that is trying to move merchandise to charge more for more popular sizes, but for the original prices to be that different? That makes no sense. So I had to investigate with a store manager. They put the wrong tag on the small.

Good thing I asked.


Jergs Family said...

How are you Laura? I love this post! My spending habits have changed as well. Instead of giving lots of toys and stuff she doesn't need for her birthday, we redecorated her room! New paint, new bedding...she loves it! And I notice you are a coupon clipper. You need to go to the grocery smarts website (Utah password is g84rcm). This site searches all the stores weekly ads, pairs them with coupons so you get extra savings. It is the greatest! Last week I spent $85 on $145 dollars worth of groceries. Not too shabby for a family of 5, if you ask me. Good luck and have fun. (If you do check the site out and need help with it, call me and I'll walk you through it.)

Ilene said...

Ah, this was a great Laura post.

I'm going to be in town next week (Tuesday-Friday or Saturday). When can we meet? You need to see your namesake. She misses you.

Suzi said...

Hi Laura, way to go little coupon shopper...I just noticed Monica does the same thing...I have never been very good at that but I do look for specials...I did want to tell you that I got a call from your dad this was fun to hear his voice ..he had just registered 40 new students for the second half of their time in London...I am excited for your time there in a couple of months...keep smiling...suzi