The Ultimate Guide to Making Money

Tip #19: Save Money, Eat Well and Look Hot in Less Than an Hour

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This is Tip #19 of of the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge. (See past tips.)

This is a guest post by Susan Su.

I’m a snob. I eat organic food, love designer clothes, buy premium pet food, and hate Old Navy.

But, I’m also one of the cheapest people I know (apart from my Chinese mother – who is THE cheapest person I know, bar none).

Ramit has written about swapping out name brands for generics, and many readers have commented on the low, low price of clothes at Target or Walmart. But, I am a strong believer in quality. A truly nice suit during a salary negotiation can give you the confidence and polish to push for a 10% pay hike. Stylish and professional office clothes can add a crucial accent to your earnest hard work and painstaking PowerPoints. Fresh, organic food can keep your family in robust good health and flourishing at jobs, school and life instead of feeling sluggish and ineffective. An investment in a sexy outfit can yield returns in a hot first date, or a long-lasting flame.

clothes-sales.jpg

So, how exactly do you indulge a champagne taste on a beer budget?

CLOTHES

Target never worked for me. The clothes were always the wrong shape and size, and wore out after only a few washes. Even though an item only cost me $20, I considered it $20 wasted when it was unwearable after the third week of ownership.

For nice clothes, one trick I used to think was so smart was going to Nordstrom Rack. I bought a Michael Stars shirt (these normally start at $40 for a tank top, but are sparkly and fabulous) for $10. That was back when I was an AmeriCorps volunteer making $800 a month and living off of food stamps. $10, or three bakery scones as I like to think of it, was within my budget.

However, once I made my debut in the world of private enterprise, and let my inner efficiency expert out to play, I realized that I do NOT have time to go down to Nordstrom Rack and paw through massive, disorganized piles of ugly, out-of-fashion clothing in order to find that one buttercup-yellow Michael Stars tee. I went a couple months ago on a Sunday after a long night of rest. Still, I left exhausted, empty-handed and pissed off after wasting and hour and a half rummaging and waiting in line at the fitting rooms. I left with the grumpy and self-destructive thought that next time I’d just buy full-price and be done with the chaotic likes of discount retailers.

The beauty of buying full price, I always thought, was that all the arranging and selection is practically done for you — by all those people that the store or brand pays to look pretty, try to sell you things, and put clothes on mannequins in semi-creative ways. I hate paying for salaries (and other costs) that I don’t think are really adding major value to my core need – the need to buy pretty clothes and look awesome.

There is, I discovered, a way to have it all. You can buy high quality, fashionable, well-organized and well-displayed clothes and spend less time than getting a mani-pedi. How? Do it on the Web!

Here are the specific sites and services I love:

1. Shop It To Me. When signing up for this automated personal (discount) shopper service, I selected the brands I like, the size I wear, and how often I wanted to receive email alerts. I was skeptical because I’ve signed up for SO many email alert type services that I promptly relegated to some obscure email filter. Why would this be any different?

I found out when I got my first Shop It To Me SaleMail. Everything it suggested to me – an amalgam of sale items across the Web – played to my tastes (because I chose the brands), fit me (because I chose the size) and was available (as opposed to sold out) at a MAJOR discount. Most items have been half off or more. If the same item is available on two different sites for at two different levels of discount, Shop It To Me will include only the cheaper option in your SaleMail, automating all your time-consuming comparison shopping.

The best part is that you can skim through the images in your SaleMail while having your morning whatever and click straight through to the retail site if you’re interested in making a purchase instead of wasting hours going to physical storefronts or even wasting hours at individual online shopping sites doing comparison shopping.

shopittome8.jpg

Site: http://www.shopittome.com
Items: Men’s and women’s clothes and shoes.
Brands: Almost everything at almost all levels. Brands range from Louis Vuitton to Nike to Victoria’s Secret to Free People to The North Face to Tufi Duek … you get the idea.
$$ Saved: I picked out a hypothetical full outfit from a recent SaleMail I received. $489 regular price total – $244.50 discount price total = $244.50 total, or a savings of exactly 50%.
Time Saved: Estimated time to find same deals on Internet (incl. shopping around): 1 hr – Time it would take me to make purchase from SaleMail: 10 min = 50 min saved.

2. Amazon.com. Nope, they don’t just sell books anymore, and yep, shipping is still free on many items. Amazon has some great deals on brand-name clothes, like this James Perse sweater vest for 66% off (if that’s your style), but my favorite apparel item there is SHOES. I saved $50 on a pair of Palladium flats the other week. They were still full-price on Amazon’s sister company, Endless.com. The reason Amazon can sell stuff for less is because they are now an aggregator of items on the Web – not just a vertical retailer. As shown by Shop It To Me, aggregators save you money AND time because they do all that sifting for you.

amazon7.jpg

Site: http://www.amazon.com
Items: Everything under the sun, including apparel items. Great for shoes, and way cheaper than Zappos.
Brands: Most common brands are available here. Really unique, high-end, or fringe brands are rare, but a search only takes a minute.
$$ Saved: My Palladium shoes cost $73 originally. I bought them for $22.99, a savings of 50.01 or 69%. I also got free shipping and didn’t have to talk to sales people.
Time Saved: There’s a shoe store about 1.5 miles from my house that sells Palladium shoes. It would take me about 40 minutes to walk there and back + 15 minutes to buy the shoes, for a total of 65 minutes. It took me 5 minutes to buy the shoes online, for a savings of 1 hour.

3. Etsy. Etsy is a way cool crafty, arty site where people from all over the country showcase their talent and sell the beautiful things they created. I have a thing for unique, handmade metalwork earrings. The mass-produced commercial stuff doesn’t hold a candle to a hand-hammered pair of sterling silver danglies. But, they are f-ing expensive at the boutiques where they’re normally found. Then, I found Etsy. My Fashion Institute of New York friend and all her jewelry design classmates make beautiful stuff, then sell it on Etsy without the boutique markup. The other day I found some one-of-a-kind metalwork earrings for under $20.It’s not just for women either – there are men’s items, stylish home things, art, gadgets, books, and more.

Know anyone who wants these $14 Republican finger puppets for the holidays?

etsy.jpg

Site: http://www.etsy.com
Items: Unique, handmade everything – gifts, furniture, books & zines, jewelry and tons more.
Brands: No brands! This is the place you go to find the one-of-a-kind delights that are usually exclusive to hip boutiques and gift shops, at a fraction of the price.
$$ Saved: Saw a cute pair of earrings for $18. Saw a similar pair at a boutique last month for $45. The difference? $27 or 60%.
Time Saved: This site may not actually save you time because it is so full of all kinds of fun, impressive stuff to ogle. However, ogling here is probably still faster than scouring your city or town for similar cute items.
Added Bonus: If you’re crafy, you could actually make some money on Etsy this year. List your stuff!

FOOD AND HOME

1. Amazon.com (again). Unless you are a hardcore homesteader, chances are you use canned tomatoes in some form or another. I like to use them to make quick tomato chipotle soup, chili, and homemade ketchup. I recently realized that canned, organic, ‘fire-roasted’ tomatoes are $0.50 less per can on Amazon.con than at the grocery store. Not only is this awesome because I don’t have to go to the store, but I also don’t have to worry about buying it as often because it’s a 12 pack.Amazon works for toilet paper, soap, this facial scrub I like to use, cereal bars, organic tea and soymilk, vitamins, and just about everything else. A couple of weeks ago, I discovered I spent $50 too much on a large amount of premium vitamins and supplements when I checked on Amazon and found the same exact brands but for 20% less. Who knew a storefront cost that much? I don’t care if I see it in person, if I know what it is. In fact, I prefer to live like a (beggar) queen and have things delivered to my front door for less money – who wouldn’t?

2. eBay. As much as I scoff at the big, gaudy store by my house, I still kind of love Pottery Barn duvet covers. Problem is, they are so freaking expensive that I’d never EVER buy one. $200 for a duvet cover is a travesty, no matter how cute it is. But, what if it were $50? And brand new, in its original package? And delivered to your door? This is the magic of eBay. Don’t ask me how these sellers get this stuff (fell off the truck?), that’s not my problem. I just go, put in a bid, and forget about it. That is, until I get the “You’ve Won This Auction” email. I’ve used eBay for said Pottery Barn duvet cover, for a lovely hypoallergenic silk comforter, and for 400-thread count Ralph Lauren sheets, all at massive discounts. The point here is that it’s simple, automatic, and cheap, but still premium.

ebay1.jpg

Site: http://www.ebay.com
Items: Sundries, but I like it for bedding and home items especially.
Brands: eBay works best for brand names that you recognize.
$$ Saved: I’ve saved $150 on the duvet cover, $40 on the sheets, and $3,000 on a car (yes, I once bought a car on eBay).
Time Saved: At least 1 hour for going to the home goods store.

3. Only Natural Pet. A shout-out to pet owners – I know you’re out there! This great site has everything healthy and fun for your pet. The best part is that you can set up an automatic pet food delivery service – you choose the kind of food and the frequency, and, because you’re a guaranteed customer, OnlyNaturalPet rewards you by giving you 10% off every single delivery. Pretty awesome because pets eat all the time, and pet food and supplies tend to be bulky and somewhat time consuming to obtain.

onlynatpetweb.jpg

Site: http://www.onlynaturalpet.com
Items: Pet food, toys and supplies
Brands: Better quality natural and veterinary brands.
$$ Saved: If you opt for recurring food delivery, you save 10% on your order, each time.
Time Saved: 30 minutes per week going to the pet store.

4. Your local farm. I’d like to give a nod to vegetables. Ok, so we know you can get packaged goods (food, clothes, bedding) for less money when you buy it online. But, fresh vegetables, especially if you buy organic, are always pricey and require frequent trips to the farmers’ market or store, right? Not if you sign up, online of course, for a CSA box.CSA = community supported agriculture, and in many cases, involves a big box of just-picked, local, and organic produce delivered to your home for less than you’d pay at the farmer’s market OR the store. Why is it less for this superior product that’s delivered to you? No store overhead. Plus, the producer has a guaranteed customer every week, so those price hikes s/he was implementing to hedge against a slow day at the market aren’t necessary with a delivered CSA.

csa.jpg

Site: Search up “CSA” near your city or town
Items: Farm fresh produce
Brands: Um… it’s produce, from the earth. No branding, no marketing.
$$ Saved: At $29 a box, delivered every other week, I’m saving around $10 per week on fruits and veg.
Time Saved: 2 hours per week over going to the farmer’s market or grocery store.

Online shopping can help you live a healthy, stylish, and frugal life in so many ways. To me, the most important thing I save is the time and sanity I used to waste on running errands, going to the mall, comparison shopping from store to store, and waiting in line. Now I use that time to do the things I really enjoy (and can’t automate) – eating, trying on the clothes that came in the mail, and relaxing with the people I love.

Total savings: $20 to $500

Last thing to do
1. See other tips in the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge
2. Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip and any unusual techniques you use to make this tip work.

If you liked this tip, check out my Premium tips — one long, tactical tip per week. Save money or get a 100% refund.

scrooge

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41 Comments

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  1. Christ. Another post on how to spend money?

  2. Quite a few people seem to like Shop It To Me. I’ll have to check it out.

    These tips are pretty useful if you have extra disposable income and like Susan, like premium brands at a discount. I would be in that category for clothes, shoes, and accessories.

    I love that I have $200 Ann Taylor knee high leather boots that I bought for $19.99… and a Ralph Lauren top for $30 at Plato’s Closet.

    However, I’ve noticed that there haven’t been that many tips for those out there who are already being as frugal as they can. Many of these PF sites offer very similar advice, and I’d like to see some fresh ideas.

    Becoming The Marshmallow

  3. I can’t believe this tip. I started reading right around tip 2 and was excited at the beginning, but this has to be the stupidest tip of stupid tips.

    Who the heck can afford the farmer’s market? That would AT LEAST DOUBLE my grocery bill each week – even CSAs, and believe me I’ve checked them out.

    The pet stuff? Here’s a tip – don’t own a pet. It’ll save you at least $1000.

    Ebay is one of the worst rip-off places out there.

    Amazon has great deals – but then you have to pay shipping and why do that when you can get amazing deals right in your own grocery store without paying shipping?

    Etsy is RIDICULOUSLY expensive.

    And $244.50 for an outfit? In what the hell kind of “frugal” world do you live? I have under $500 to spend on clothing for my ENTIRE FAMILY for the ENTIRE YEAR – that includes all underwear, all pants, all shirts, all shoes, all socks, all winter boots, and all coats. For everyone. Forgive me while I roll my eyes at your “frugality”.

  4. Keeley, there are different people with different income and different goals reading this site — not just you. I completely agree with you about pets, though.

  5. why all the complaining? dont go to the websites if you dont like. not everyone is a brokeass like you. some of us still make some decent money and would like to save when we do plan on spending.

  6. I don’t understand all the complaints either. Anyone who has read this site can tell its target is young professionals with disposable income, and that Ramit’s goal is to help us save or spend that income in the most intelligent ways. I like these tips – Shop It To Me sounds perfect – because I am not going to impress anyone or get my first management job in a $50 suit I got off the clearance rack at Target. It would never hang right on my body and make me look like a twenty-something playing dress up in mom’s closet, rather than like the competent, mature professional that deserves the job. So, if that site can help me get professional clothes at reasonable prices, I am all about it.

    Being rich is not about cutting every expense to the bone — it is about using the money you do have in ways that deliver the maximum utility and joy to your life.

  7. Interesting idea, in theory, but in practicality for me it really doesn’t hold much water.

    Margo, I got my first job in a management position (though I in an ill-fitting suitcoat bought on clearance at Pennys. I’ve been on the other side of interviews and I’ve heard people getting rejected for dressing like a millionaire (the department made jokes that his watch cost more than my entire outfit – which I admitted was all clearance and Walmart.)

    Of course, I don’t live in Frisco or LA or NYC. I live in a small town and thus values are a little different here.

  8. One important consideration for the CSA’s – when you buy a weekly share, you’re in essence buying a share in the farm. If the farm suffers, you might lose out. I bought a share in July of 2007, and the farm was flooded in early December. My year-long share ended then. So the $700 bought about 18 weeks of veggies (because there aren’t deliveries every week anyway).

  9. I love Nordstrom Rack. I like good quality clothes, but have a rule about never, ever paying retail. I haven’t found online shopping to be a suitable replacement. Shipping to my apartment is a hassle because it’s not safe to leave things on the porch. I used to have things shipped to my work, but that is taboo at my current job. Target does have some good quality and good deals – you just have to dig for them, just like at Nordstrom Rack. I find shopping of any kind to be rather tiresome – I’m petite and finding good fits are difficult. I have to spend a fair amount extra getting things altered, and save a little where I’m able to alter myself. Unless the online store takes measurements, I have a fairly high risk of having to return it, which negates the convenience factor.

  10. I live in Seattle and there are produce markets within a stones throw of just about any major intersection. There’s one that I frequent in Beacon Hill that has killer bargains on organic and conventionally grown produce. We fill up on veggies and fruit once a week for $40. At Safeway, it would cost closer to $100. Most of it is locally grown (if you can’t grow it in Washington, it can’t be grown!), so it is fresh and sweet. You do have to know how to knock on melons and pick good apples, though.

  11. I use a good deal of these tips and have been for a while. I loved my CSA membership this year. Every single week I got fresh, organic food that was picked THAT MORNING. No grocery store can even come close to that claim. I was exposed to new veggies like tatsoi, that as it turns out, we love! I also got a few things like okra that we despise, but I was able to bless a neighbor in even worse financial condition than me. By my end-of-the-season calculation, I spent $22 less on groceries by purchasing a full CSA share than I would have spent on grocery store veggies, and $67 less than purchasing the same veggies at the health food store. Well worth it, and I’ll do it again!

    Today’s tip: $0
    Cumulative: $90.75

  12. I love Nordstrom rack and ebay. I’ve purchased many beautiful, beautiful things for not so much money. And, in defense of Target, I have a few Isaac Mizrahi pieces from Target that are some of the best made pieces in my wardrobe. That man is into details. I have fully lined dresses in beautiful cottons and a pair of shorts that have a very high end detail of a petershammed waistband to keep their shape.

    And thanks for the CSA reminder. I used to love my weekly delivery from produce man. Not only was I entertained by the Iron Chef aspect of having to find ways to cook all the things in my box, I also ate out quite a bit less because I always had beautiful produce. My grocery bills were record low at that time.

  13. I’m with Margo here…there really is too much complaining for what are really good tips for those that can apply them. If you want to be frugal to the max, don’t buy anything you don’t absolutely need and when you do, don’t spend a single extra penny on it. If you would like to enjoy the remainder of your life, though, learning to be frugal where it doesn’t make a big difference to you and splurge where it’s going to be worth it TO YOU is going to be key. The author of the tip said right off the bat she eats organic food, loves designer clothes, and buys premium pet food. Anybody else that has similar values could really learn a lot here.

    WARNING: Do NOT get so caught up buying things off the internet that you found and tried on or tested locally that you completely take having that store around for granted. The author ditches many local stores for the web even though she benefits from the local stores as well. If the store wasn’t around, in many cases, she would never be able to try on those shoes and would end up having to return it and pay shipping costs if it didn’t fit.

    This isn’t some crazy theory. It happened to the entire photography industry. There are now only a handful of real camera shops across the nation that stock anything worthwhile because photographers tend to try to save every dollar they can and order stuff online. Now they’re paying for that lack of local-support.

    I’m not saying don’t buy online. I do all the time. You just need to realize the effect and be prepared to accept it if you’re going to order online where you could have shopped locally. It could cost you more in the long-run if you don’t.

  14. Note about the CSA’s, I live in a smaller city (100K people) and my friends actually have to pick up their CSA items at the local natural food store.

    Great and detailed post on champagne tastes on a beer budget! A few of the tips are well known to me (amazon, ebay, CSA, shop it to me) but I know a few people who would be interested in the Etsy site!

    Thanks!

  15. Wow, what thoughtful comments! I’m impressed.

    Couple of things:

    1. “Don’t own a pet.” Yup, we’ve heard this one from Ramit before. However, for those many readers who’ve commented on past posts about their own beloved pets and pet care spending, this is not any kind of solution.

    When you ask him how to save / grow money, Ramit doesn’t typically reply, “Don’t spend money!” … just a thought on being constructive.

    2. Original price versus bought-for price. I consider a purchase a ‘savings-win’ if my bought-for price is significantly (and I’m talking percentages, not absolute numbers) less than the original price, or VALUE, of the item.

    If you purchase a pair of jeans for $17 full price at Target, like my boyfriend once did, then you are getting $17 worth of jean-shaped value for $17. If you purchase a pair of $150 J-Brand jeans from Bluefly.com for $59, then you are getting $150 worth of jean-shaped value for $59.

    In the first scenario, you spent less money – and if that is your sole goal, then kudos to you.

    In the second scenario, you were able to manipulate the PRICE / VALUE ratio in your favor. If you’re interested in wearing $150 jeans, but only have $59 to spend, spend it on a discount site instead of on a pair of full price, non-designer pants at the Gap.

    3. Buy local. E-commerce has definitely changed the game for local producers – and often for the better. Those local businesses and artists that really thrive are the ones who also know how to sell their cool doodads online, perhaps on Etsy or eBay, to buyers in Canada, or Japan.

    I buy lots of used books on Amazon, because most of my local bookstores don’t always carry the wacky stuff I’m looking for. And the sellers? They’re usually some funky used bookstore in Portland or Santa Monica or Salem that’s supporting their business with the business they get from Amazon.

    4. CSAs. Yes, you are buying a share of the farm, and yes, this can be cost-ineffective at times when the farm suffers a catastrophe or, in the case of some CSA deals, when you go on vacation and don’t need a delivery. However, there are programs out there, such as the one I subscribe to, that allow you to put a vacation hold at no charge, or cancel with 48 hours’ notice. I’ll bet the price is hiked a couple of dollars to hedge against these cases, but it’s still cheaper for me than shopping at the store.

    As for the produce stands and farmers’ markets, yes, they’re great – cheap, beautiful bounty can definitely be had at the farmers’ market. Here in SF, we have a Civic Center farmers’ market that, although slightly grungy because it’s downtown, is the cheapest place to get organic produce in the city, hands down. However… you DO have to go there at the allotted time, Sunday morning / early afternoon.

    As for me, I wrote this article because I’m interested in simultaneously saving MONEY and TIME. I’ve missed many many farmers’ markets (and opportunities to save $$) because I didn’t have time to go. The CSA, delivered to my door, takes care of that.

    -Susan

  16. In response to your #2, I can only think back to that old line from Radio and Vaudeville.

    Wife: I bought this new hat today for $50.
    Man: $50! Take it back! We can’t afford that!
    Wife: But it normally cost $100 so therefore I saved $50 and it cost $50 so it was just the same as free.

    What’s sad is there are people who think that way in the real world.

  17. ETSY is a great tip! I did almost 85% of my Christmas shopping on Etsy. My gifts this year are very unique and completely tailored to the person i am giving them to. I probably spent about $10-15 less than I would’ve normally- per person. So that’s a savings of at least 90-135 this year. :-)

  18. I used to be a stylist so shopping was never an issue for me.

    When I worked at Nordstrom even the 33% discount wasn’t enough for a starving student so I shopped at BCBG and rocked the same three pairs of pants and shirts for two years. I sell on eBay but never purchase. In the summer I wear the cheapest of cheap clothes and in the winter I do it up since I like to ‘layer’.

    Nowadays all I need is my Mercedes, my Coach bags, a couple pairs of designer jeans, a pair of black leather stiletto boots, a Half Price Books, a Whole Foods and I’m set.

    I’m a simple girl.

  19. Battra92, I get what you’re saying, but I checked your website and presume you’re male. Inexpensive men’s clothing is of much better quality than the women’s clothing at the same price point.

    My biggest complaint right now is that I can’t find an all-season wool suit with lined trousers that fit a young woman’s shape for under $1K. Ann Taylor is the gold standard in women’s office attire, but their suits don’t fit me well and most of their blouses are cut too low in the neckline to be appropriate. Much of what is marketed to 20-something women as “office” clothing is see-through. The “upscale” brands still skimp on finishing; even a $600 Elie Tahari suit at Saks had unlined trousers. The wool itched. I asked about lining and was referred to the Armani section. My bankroll is not THAT large so I left.

    It is really hard for young women to look stylish yet keep their “business” covered in the workplace. I signed up for Shop it to Me and am hopeful that it will uncover some useful deals.

    Otherwise I will have to follow one of Ramit’s tips about getting a custom suit made the next time I travel abroad.

  20. You probably don’t even have to wait until you go abroad. Do a few searches for custom women’s suits and get them made in China and shipped to you. I think I wrote about this in one of the previous tips.

  21. Thanks for this post! Target clothes do NOT work for me. Even the Issac Mizrahi stuff wears out so fast. I am good with TJ Maxx myself, but will definitely be checking out Shop It to Me for my husband. He is hard to fit and needs to look better than he does right now at his urban professional job.

    This post is missing any mention of CRAIGSLIST! It might not have all the selection, but you can set up a tailored search to show up in your RSS feed (Like for a pottery barn duvet cover…) I did this with “changing table” when we were expecting our baby and saw many great deals. However, we ended up getting a solid wood one in mint condition for free on freecycle.

    That reminds me of a tip you should add Ramit. Freecycle.org. I have gotten rid of tons of clutter in my house and saved $100′s of dollars on things I got for free. We got many great shape baby items for free as well as some other items. I feel better trying to get rid of things on freecycle because I know the person taking them will actually use them rather than them sitting at goodwill. It is a great community and is all over the country.

  22. Target clothes work fine for me, and they keep on working with many washes just like any other shirt, although I must admit I’ve only bought two shirts from them.

  23. I adore my CSA. I pick it up from my local co-op where I shop regularly anyway, and it saves me so much money on fresh produce – as well as challenges me to create meals I might not have and that are in season (and therefore best tasting.)

    I’ve also used Craigslist and Freecycle with great effectiveness. Just another way to buy (or not buy) local. Garage sales, estate sales.

    I use Amazon.com, Etsy.com, and other online options. But I often find that local craft fairs, clothing stores and shops offer just what I need, and keep money in the community. In this economy, that is becoming more and more important.

    And my suggestion for the holidays? Kiva.org. Ask that every member of the family donate $25 to a Kiva group and then invest that money in a microloan. Not only will you spend less on each other (one investment of $25 instead of hundreds), but you can spend time together at the holidays deciding where you want to lend your money. On top of that, you get the money back, so you can add more and do it again – making even more of a difference.

  24. Georgie Porgie Link to this comment

    But Susan, did your frugal Chinese mother never tell you to try out clothes before you buy them? How do you know the clothes you see online will fit/look good on you?

  25. Keeley and battra92 – I agree wholeheartedly.

    Susan Su:
    “However, for those many readers who’ve commented on past posts about their own beloved pets and pet care spending, this is not any kind of solution.”

    Fine, so you have a pet that you’ve already wasted a lot of money on – the original purchase, vaccinations, claws, neutering, vet visits, etc. You’re in a committed inter-species relationship and can let go of your furry/scaly/feathery little friend. Fine. When it dies, don’t buy a new one. it’s that simple. Will save you lots of money later on. If that seems too cynical for you, here’s a nice touchy-feely justification: if you get another pet, you’d feel like you’re betraying your dead pet. Ta-da! Problem solved.

  26. [...] Tip #19: Save Money, Eat Well and Look Hot in Less Than an Hour  [...]

  27. I have two dogs and a cat– while life would be cheaper without them, I consider them essential to my quality of life. Plus going to the dog park is cheaper then a movie– and they keep me in shape with walks. :)

    Anyway, wrt the dog food– I don’t find Only Natural a deal if you have large/multiple dogs. They charge $17 in shipping for a 30 lb bag! When i buy dog food in 30lb bags getting it shipped to me just doesn’t make sense– But, if you have a smaller dog, then Amazon grocery may work for delivery dog food. Its a heck of a lot cheaper then Only Natural.

    If you buy a 12.5 lb bag of Newmans organic chicken and rice dog food it costs $39 through Only Natural (11 shipping + 27 for the food), but its $25.02 through Amazon (free shipping for orders over $25!). Plus, if you get a regular subscription, you save 15% on each bag (no shipping costs on subscriptions).

    Assuming you don’t have Amazon Prime, that’s a difference of
    $14.03 for each BAG. And if you want a subscription, Amazon offers 5% more off then Only Natural without charging you shipping.

  28. keeley, when you say that etsy is expensive, what are you comparing it to? as an example, i recently bought a pair of fingerless fleece gloves from a seller in my city on etsy for $5. similar products sell at urban outfitters or boutiques for $20, and they are made in china in a sweatshop.

    granted, the products on etsy vary widely in price and quality. some sellers have things for $2, others charge thousands. same goes for ebay… you can find amazing deals there, but there’s also crap to sift through.

    but i’ve still found that overall the same thing handmade by a person on etsy is typically less money than a comparable mass-produced thing at a store. lots of etsy sellers are based in my city, so the money is going into the local economy vs. a corporation. and i feel much better about giving $5 to a local mom with a charming picture of her toddlers vs. wal-mart.

    i choose to afford the farmer’s market… which is to say that i prioritize buying local & organic food over eating out at restaurants more often, going to movies more often, etc. i do that because i think factory farming is creepy… it hurts the environment, animals, and even myself via ingesting nasty hormones/chemicals and genetic engineering attempts that we don’t fully understand the repercussions of. it absolutely costs more but i view my health and the health of the world at large as what’s ultimately most important.

    amazon prime membership is $79/year for unlimited 2 day shipping. it sounds like a lot, but it’s totally worth it in the long run.

    for clothes i rock the pay by the pound thrift stores. digging through bins does take forever, but i’m in a financial situation where it’s necessary. the exception is socks/underwear ’cause i’m not really into used underwear. socks = http://www.sock-dreams.com … socks made in the u.s. outside of sweatshops.

  29. About Karen’s comments on CSAs- look for one that is a co-op. That way, if one farm has a bad crop, there are many others in the co-op that can supplement the food supply. I had a CSA this year, and while it was more expensive than the local fruit market, it was definitely cheaper and better quality (all organic) than the local supermarket. Also, it is more “green” and supports the local communities. It also allows you to experiment and try things you may not have ever tried or known about. (Who knew about garlic scapes or kohlrabi??) Also, some CSAs offer half shares, delivered every other week, that are cheaper in price.

  30. The CSA actually was a co-op, but the flooding was widespread :\

    I still really like the CSA business model. I had a half share last year. One reason I stopped this year was because I started my own veggie garden at home.

  31. I’m amazed when people complain about prices on Etsy because for many items, there is a very wide range of price points. There are so many people selling on Etsy! But the thing that really gets me is that people are so hesitant to pay people for the work they have done. If you don’t want to buy handcrafted goods, fine, whatever. But people who spend handcrafted items on Etsy have material costs, fees associated with selling, and are paying themselves for their time…if it takes a few hours to make something, and they want to recoup their time costs at even a very modest rate, they have to charge the customer for it. When I buy something on Etsy that I could get mass-produced for a lot cheaper, I know that part of what I’m doing is supporting sustainable practices and paying the artisan for their time. Similarly with CSA’s…part of what I’m doing is investing in a business model that is based on sustainability and direct exchanges. Ok, fine, that might cost a bit more at times — but this is as much a quality of life issue for me as having a pet is for other people.

  32. Yep, the feeling of entitlement online never fails to me amaze me.

  33. “I have under $500 to spend on clothing for my ENTIRE FAMILY for the ENTIRE YEAR – that includes all underwear, all pants, all shirts, all shoes, all socks, all winter boots, and all coats. For everyone. Forgive me while I roll my eyes at your “frugality”.”

    Maybe if you ditched your internet connection, that would free up more money for the clothing budget. Just saying.

  34. There’s a lot of slamming on this post for it not being frugel enough. I’d like to chime in and say that I really appreciated it! Sure, we can all live like Monks and have a cheapskate off, but I’m not interested in this. What I like most about Ramit’s blog is that he keeps persepective about the balance between saving money and having a life. Its not all or nothing– every one has different priorities.

    For me, a 20-something dink, this is great. I enjoy nice clothing from time to time. That doesn’t mean I have to pay retail though! Thank you for the helpful post! I’d love to see more guest posts on how to save money from a female’s perspective. Our clothing is more complicated and our maintaince is more expensive– I feel like there are some great tips out there that I’m missing!

  35. [...] Save Money, Eat Well and Look Hot in Less Than an Hour [...]

  36. [...] 23:  Tips to save money on clothes, home goods, pet stuff…  I especially liked the ShopItToMe and Etsy [...]

  37. I second the tip from the post regarding CSAs. We’ve priced up our local CSAs and found that a box full of fresh, local, and often organic food can be delivered to a location that’s convenient for pick up or sometimes even delivered straight to our door for less than what we would pay for the equivilent ruck load of food at the grocery store.

    When you join a CSA you almost always join for 6 or 12 months and pay up front. It hurts at first but it feels like free food for the rest of the year (or half year). The farmers use the money you pay up front to buy the supplies they need for the crop you’ll reap as a result of becoming a CSA member. And no, CSAs do not require you to work on the farm as part of the payment. If your box is too big for you (as a single person or couple) consider sharing it with a friend who can split the already reasonable cost with you.

    Its easy to search for your local CSAs (Community Sponsored Agriculture), local food producers (both produce and meats), co-ops and groceries with locally grown foods, and farmers markets with Local Harvest – http://www.localharvest.org

  38. “going to Nordstrom Rack… That was back when I was… living off of food stamps”

    So you shop at Nordstom while accepting welfare? Talk about entitlement.

  39. Ramit, I like these tips and thought I’d just say it. Susan, great post. Many are things I am already doing, or am in the process of exploring, but I did find your post a good read.

    For the people who posted the negative stuff, get over yourselves. If you want a site that offers tips to people who are only like you, then keep living in your closed-minded world.

    Otherwise, learn to appreciate the differences of what you read online and how it would work (or not) for you.

    The real value of increasing our knowledge comes not from seeking knowledge solely to reaffirm our beliefs, to reinforce what we do, etc., but rather because we want to learn about it all and then grow ourselves to see if/how the idea can apply to us.

  40. Great posts..I thought I’d share a super super super industry secret.

    You can easily save 75% off NEW clothes IN season by simply contacting your favorite fashion designers.

    This isn’t a scam, I work at a fashion designer in New York and a large chunk of our income comes from personal orders. You might have a hard time getting big namers out there like Marc Jacobs, but there are a handful of extremely talented young designers that haven’t reached that level yet, so they rely on personal orders to

    1) Get income
    2) Keep their factories happy. Many factories require minimum orders to get great prices. The more orders a designer gets, the more orders they can put in for the factories, the better it is for them.

    So simply find a contact information for a designer you like (for example, an email or number on a website). Let them know you are a huge fan and would like to order a few things directly from them because you live in an area where they aren’t stocked, or pieces you love weren’t purchased for the store or you’re traveling a lot..etc.

    Build a relationship.

    Most store markups are about 2.5-2.8x wholesale costs. While there might be some slight markup costs, you would usually never pay full retail if you buy directly from the designer as a personal order. All our personal orders are given them same prices as stores.

  41. [...] Buy generic for the stuff you don’t care about Tip #18: No Christmas gifts this year Tip #19: Save Money, Eat Well and Look Hot in Less Than an Hour Tip #20: Change the date of Christmas Tip #21: Save thousands by pre-paying your debt Tip #22: [...]