We have a saying “the greedy pay twice”. The cheapest most definitely isn’t always the smartest or the most frugal thing to do. Yes! sometimes it’s more frugal to pay more.

The economic benefit of paying as little as possible to save money is lost if you have to pay the second time to fix the result.

A couple of anecdotes:

  • Last year I dyed my hair at home, and had to pay the hair dresser to have the color fixed. Color corrections cost more than a simple dye job. Have I learned the lesson? You bet.
  • We bought a fairly expensive item ($1,300) last year from a small store. The owner gave us a discount, but his return policy is “no returns”. The item turned out to be not what we wanted and we ended up having to re-sell it on Ebay, taking a monetary hit, of course. In the end we lost more than we saved, not to mention all the time and worry of selling on Ebay.

Next time you feel like having a candy bar, consider buying an organic apple. At an average price of $1.49-$1.99 a pound, one medium-size organic apple costs about 50 cents. How’s this related to money? Why you’ll save money by improving your health, of course! 😉

This post was prompted by a late run to the grocery store.

P.S. How about that snow! Lovin’ it.

As mentioned in my previous post, I had requested a price match on high-speed internet from Sympatico. It’s not going smoothly so far.

In March (first contract month) they added on $17.10 activation fee, so our total bill came to $44.56, about $5 less than before. It was supposed to have been around $30-35. This was most likely a computer error – they assumed since we signed a new contract, we must be a new customer (not so!), so they or it charged us an activation fee.

Of course I called them the minute I noticed it on the credit card statement, and they graciously removed the charge, but I spent yet another 15 minutes straightening this out. Really hoping next month it’ll go as planned.

Every month some of my cash mysteriously disappears. Usually about $20-50 just falls through. I write it off as “Miscellaneous Household”. Granted, it’s a small amount, but puzzles me because I usually collect all the receipts, and I mean ALL receipts. It’s making me crazy because I haven’t been able to go at least 1 whole month without this weird loss. A year ago it was much worse though, I used to “lose” $100-150 and my memory was completely blank as to where the money could’ve gone.

So at least my attempts to keep track have made these undetectable losses smaller. Next month I’ll try to do without cash at all and have every transaction recorded in our checking/credit accounts.

Another Double-Extra-Large Latte Factor of mine is definitely Ebay. Sometimes even with shipping charges, items cost less than if you buy them locally, and the convenience of not going to the store is very alluring. I’m not a shopaholic in a normal sense. When shopping, I like to know what I’m after, buy it and get out. Buy Ebay… I can window-shop on Ebay for literally hours. Now I sometimes get very disappointed with a small selection at the mall.

It has been a double-blow financially because it takes away the valuable work time – hours! – and then I spend money on stuff that I can really do without. I’ve been addicted to online shopping, and Ebay in particular, for the past 3-4 years, and at times I felt like I needed a 12-step program. Several times I stopped looking at the site, but couldn’t avoid it for more than a couple of weeks (it’s usually better in the summer since I’m not on the computer so much).

One good thing about Ebay is their Watch List. It really gives you time to cool off. You can watch up to 100 items, but I try to hover around a 30-item mark on average. Most of the time I buy just 1-2 items from the list over a period of 2-3 weeks.

Good news, though, I’ve been slowly getting disillusioned with Ebay over the past year or so. I find that with the increased shipping cost there are a lot fewer good deals, or items advertised as new are used, or fakes, or the seller made a shipping mistake (happens a lot more often now). My “success ratio” with Ebay used to be about 80%, meaning that I was happy with 80% of my buys, and the other 20% I’d either toss or resell. Now my satisfaction is down to around 30%! And yet, I kept coming back for some more abuse… Well, no more.

A friend of mine found out that I had over 2000 Ebay feedbacks, and she was stunned. She looked around our place and said: “But there’s not even 2,000 things here! What did you buy?” I went silent, because I honestly didn’t know what to say. I probably tossed and re-sold a lot more stuff than I kept.

In the last 2 months I’ve been trying to stick to this Online Shopping Avoidance program, here are some boundaries I set for myself:

  • Cannot buy anything if I’m already waiting for 3 packages in the mail. Right now I’m waiting for ZERO parcels, sort of an accomplishment.
  • Before I buy something, I check it out at the store first. Works like a charm for most of the stuff I buy: often can get a better deal locally or the item is not what I expected and I simply cross it off the list.
  • I try to buy from sellers and online stores with good return policies now. I’d rather pay return shipping than get stuck with something that’s worth $70 or bother reselling it
  • Try to limit shoe purchases to 1 pair a month. I broke down and bought 2 pairs this month, but they’re really nice. I don’t regret it. Maybe I’ll skip the March pair.
  • I ask my husband if he likes what I want to buy, and how much he would pay for it. He often doesn’t like it or would pay a lot less for it than I would. Since I don’t like lying, I prefer to not buy instead of lying about the cost. He’s my chaperone!
  • No shopping during work days. That only leaves weekends but I don’t want to sit glued to the computer most weekends. Maybe glued to the TV instead 🙂 (joke!)
  • Do not shop online while intoxicated or sad. Oh the many things I bought after a glass of wine.

I’m not the strongest-willed person out there, so instead of talking myself out of buying a specific item, I try to not browse online shopping sites, period.

I think this is it for the vice analysis. Online shopping and coffee. I’m cutting these out.