You are at a department store. Everything has a reduced price. You walk around and see clothes that might look good on you. You go through a stack of shirts on shelves or racks and start pulling out the ones that seem promising. Stop! What are you doing? Are you going to buy all the items? Do you really need them all? If you had a stack of twenty dollar bills would you give them away in exchange for the shirts?
Welcome to Thrifty Living Today. A special way of life for the Twenty-first Century.
My name is Lori Blatzheim and I am your host.
One of the hallmarks of Thrift is to think before spending, to determine what you really need, not what you suddenly want.
Does this sound boring to you? Do you really have time to consider what you are doing with your money? In my opinion, you do.
Before you Shop
The journey starts before you ever leave home. How long does it take you to scan your closet, to get an idea of the colors of slacks or pants you own, to count the number of short or long sleeved shirts you already have? Do you know what looks good on you?
You need to be armed with this information before you set foot in a department store.
Otherwise you can be overwhelmed by all that is there.
Department stores offer more than just piles of shirts. There are filled with distractions which may impact your shopping while moving along. Seasonal displays can influence your thinking. Crowds or lines at the cashier make a difference. Stores can (and do) set up racks and shelves so that you see more merchandise as you amble along.
Shopping with purpose
Why are you at the store? Who will receive the purchase, you, your spouse or partner, a friend, a child? You want to shop with ideas in mind. Bring a list. If your goal is clothing, include sizes if possible.
Bring cash instead of a credit card. This results in an unavoidable budget which will help reign in your spending.You will be farther ahead if you know the size, color, pattern, style and maker you want.
When is a sale really a sale?
One of the department stores in our area uses a lot of gimmicks in advertising. We have "the sale of the month, the season, the year." Then there is the "sale to end all sales," and the "back to school sale." During major holidays there are special sales where prices are reduced at a certain blocks of time. For example from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM or from 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
We do see coupons in the newspaper. There may be offers of "$10 off out of $25, $40, or $50 dollars."
There is a "Senior percentage off sale." This usually happens on Wednesdays.
Last but probably not least there are the cashier options. The cashier offers the customer a reduction in price if they (1) open a credit card account, (2) take a card with a hidden "percentage off" scratch off number. To get the benefit they must pay with that department store credit card.
I have discovered a way to get around this choice. I pay for the item with my credit card for that store and then immediately pay the cashier a check to cover the price of what I just bought. This allows me to pay before I forget the price and before I build up any interest on the credit card.
Let's discuss quality
You are at a department store sale and have the opportunity to purchase items at a sale price. Remember..........you don't have to buy anything!
Before strolling to the cashier, take a look at what you have selected, a really good look. Will it work for you, or the person who receives it? Will it last through multiple washings or cleanings? Did you shop with cash or purpose in mind?
If you later find it is not you wanted, you have lost the "shopping game." You have done the retailer a favor but at your expense.
There is nothing wrong with arriving home empty handed. In fact, it proves that you are a person who thinks carefully and shops for value.
Lori Blatzheim is a wife, mother, nurse, writer, and thrift advocate. She knows that use of Thrift can help people because she has experienced the benefits.