Lesson Applied: Lower Prices Usually Return

Last year, my dad opened my eyes to a pretty simple theory about prices, and that lower prices will typically return.

Learning The Lesson

I learned the lesson last year when we were computer shopping.  My wife’s laptop was no longer working well for her online business, so we decided that it was time to get a new laptop.  My dad has always been very tech savvy and on top of the latest trends, as well as what is good pricing.

Don’t pull the trigger too soon!

I found a laptop that I liked and sent him the specifications and the pricing.  This was an advertised ‘one day deal’ site, so you had 24 hours to take advantage of the deal.

My dad and I spoke and while it was a good computer at a good price, he felt that it was not something that we had to necessarily jump at, as he thought that we would either find the deal to come back at the same or lower price, or that we’d find an even better machine at the same price.  As it turned out, he was right on both accounts.  The deal was actually extended past the 24 hour window, and within a few days, we found a much better equipped machine at a comparable price, and so far it has worked out very well.

Learning The Lesson

One of the things that has been moving up our list is to replace our wireless router.  We currently have two wireless networks running in our house, neither of which is meeting our level of satisfaction.  We have an older Linksys router, I’m talking 7-8 years old, that doesn’t have great range and seems to have gotten more and more flaky.  I’m concerned about security as Netgear has never released even a firmware update for it.  I’ve thought about getting rid of it altogether but there are a couple of devices which have seemed to work better on this network, so it’s always avoided the ax.

We also use the built in network offered by our cable company.  The range on it is terrible, but we do have a range extender, and it’s only compatible with this device.

Basically, it’s a patchwork situation, and both networks just don’t offer what we need.

We’ve been looking at a new router for awhile, and I had my mind settled on one in particular.

I’d been looking on Amazon, and it has been around $99.  I had budgeted $100 for a router, and that was the maximum I was willing to pay.  Now that Amazon charges sales tax, the $99 price would actually run us about $105 and change.

No good, especially since I used the Camelizer plugin on Chrome to show that it’s been as low as $85-90 before.

Since it wasn’t something we needed urgently, I decided to apply my dad’s principle, and to wait.

Applying The Lesson

I checked every day and the price was roughly the same for about a two week period.  It was $99.87 or so most of the time, typically going down around a quarter.  I did miss one opportunity when I saw it for $91, but I was somewhere where I couldn’t take the time to finish the transaction, and by the time I looked the next day, it was back up to $99.

So I waited.

Finally, on Easter, I hit paydirt. It was $89!  This plus sales tax made it roughly $95.  So, instead of going $5 over my budget, which is what I could have done by not waiting, sitting back and waiting for the price to return actually left me with $5 extra.

That’s what I call a win any day!  Thanks, Dad!

Readers, have you ever used patience to make sure to get the price you wanted? When you see a ‘never to be repeated’ price, do you jump on it?  Or do you find that waiting is the best way to go?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Only Buy Sale Items At The Fancy Grocery Store

We have a few different grocery store options near us, and they cover all of the different price categories that I would say are available.  Here’s how I would define the price options and an example of each that is pretty widely known:

  • Cheap: Wal-Mart
  • Moderate: Kroger
  • Expensive: Whole Foods

Where We Do A Majority of Our Shopping

We do most of our shopping at Meijer, which is a regional chain that I would classify as moderate.  We have a Wal-Mart nearby, but honestly the experience of shopping in that store just isn’t worth it.  (Note to Wal-Mart: Opening two registers at peak time and causing a 30-minute wait for a standard basket of items is a guaranteed way to get people who value their time to shop elsewhere).

Recently, a store opened near us that isn’t Whole Foods, but it is along the same lines.  It’s called Fresh Thyme (get it?) and it’s actually a pretty cool store, just as is Whole Foods.  They have the requiste huge selection of organic and gluten free foods, and they have a lot of things that say ‘all-natural’ and the like.

And of course, the high prices that go along with it.

Whole Foods And Other Expensive Stores Serve A Purpose

Now, there’s nothing wrong with stores like this, and I’m sure there are people who do their regular shopping at places like this. mb-201101apple That’s fine, but it’s not us.

However, we do go to the store, with one basic rule: We buy just about everything on sale.

See, Fresh Thyme has a pretty nifty produce department, and they usually have a lot of great things on sale, and their quality is very good.

So, what do we do?  We buy just the sale stuff!

My wife showed me a bill from a recent trip and it was pretty close to the following list:

  • Bananas – ON SALE
  • Raspberries – ON SALE
  • Blueberries – ON SALE
  • Cucumbers – ON SALE
  • Tomatoes – ON SALE
  • Carrots – ON SALE

Every one of the items on the list had a regular price and the sale price for which we paid.  My wife knows produce and the sale prices were actually good prices!

She ended up with the list above (and maybe a few more items) for just about $17, with the savings noted as over $10!

Use The Expensive Stores To Fill In

By using the expensive store as a secondary store, it saves us money.  My wife makes a weekly trip to the regular store, but by planning out her trips, and buying her produce across multiple stores to make sure she gets the best price, we add up our savings quite a bit!

What works for us is that the expensive store is right down the street.  While many people simply don’t have the time to go to multiple stores, the location makes it worth our while.

Now, I have no idea if they’re actually making money on us.   I can guarantee that we’re not their target customer.  I’m sure that they would prefer that their customers either do their full shopping trip there, or at least fill in their sale items with a few regular priced items.  Hey, as long as there are enough of those people out there, we’ll be content to shop there just for the sales!

I don’t know if the $10 that she saves is repeatable every week, but with even half that amount, we could be saving $260 per year!

That’s a nice chunk of change, and you figure, we’re probably getting better quality food on top of it.

Expensive stores (as a fill-in option) for the win!

Readers, do you save money by shopping between multiple stores?  Do you find yourself frequenting the more expensive stores exclusively for their sale items?  

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Do You Know Where Your Money is Right Now?

Your money has a mind of its own. Just like your teenager, your new schnauzer puppy, or that guy in accounting who keeps goofing off, you’ve got to track your money to make sure it doesn’t end up places it shouldn’t be. “But wait,” you might say, “my money is inanimate and, increasingly, just a bit of digital data. It sits where I put it, awaiting my beck and call!” That may be a comforting idea, hot shot, but there are actually a lot of ways you may be losing money without even realizing it. The first step is to learn about ways that this happens to people just like you. The second step is to take the necessary action to remedy the situation.

Let’s be clear.  Your money doesn’t actually make decisions on its own. It will only respond to a command from someone who has authority over it. In a perfect world, you would be the only one who has the ability to call your cash to action. But that’s not the way things work for most people. In fact, there may be a bunch of people who have the ability to pull your money out of your checking account: your mortgage company, your utility companies (through auto-pay options), your kid’s tuition company, etc. . Those are all positive examples of convenient ways you can pay your way in life, without having to consciously move money around every time something needs to be paid off.

Keep Control Of Your Money

However, sometimes we can sign away a little too much control. The early 21st century has been awash with new subscription options for things that we do or use every single day. Let’s say you wash your clothes at home. You use roughly one container of the little laundry detergent pouches every two months. So you go online and subscribe to your favorite product at some retailing giant’s website. They send you the thing you need according to your usage schedule, and you never have to worry about running out again.

Some people get a little trigger happy with subscriptions, signing up for well more than they need, and often losing interest in the thing they’ve subscribed to, only to forget they ever signed up in the first place. Forgotten subscriptions can cost you tons of money over the course of months and years.  Gym membership, magazine subscriptions, cable channels you don’t watch, the list can be endless.  Search your accounts for signs of payments you are making for goods or services that you no longer need.

Track Your Money In Every Way

There are also many examples of payments you may routinely make for things you don’t know you signed up for at all! In England, for instance, thousands of people signed up for Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) when signing long loan forms, without realizing they had signed up for the service. Millions of pounds paid later, people are suing the insurance companies for fraud. If you have PPI, use this PPI calculator to find out how much you’ve lost and how much you could gain back. Take a careful look at your payments of all types over the past few months and make sure you haven’t signed up for something you didn’t want.

The bottom line is that your money is yours, and nobody will ever care about it as much as you do.  Make sure to give it the care and attention it deserves, or else somebody else surely will…after they deposit it in their account, of course!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

6 Questions To Ask Before Any Major Purchase

We’ve all made major purchases at one time or another.  Whether it be a new (or new-to-you) car, a home, an education, or some other ‘big’ purchase, dropping a big wad of money on something happens to everybody.

The key, however, is to make sure that your money is well spent.

Here are six questions to ask yourself before making a major purchase:

Why Do I Need This?

This is the first and most important question that you need to ask.  Yes, it’s more important than anything to do with the money related stuff, because if you can’t answer this one, you may not need to answer any other question.  Keep in mind that ‘wanting’ something is a big difference from actually ‘needing’ it, so be very truthful and honest about how you answer this.  Now, if your furnace broke and your alternative is to spend the winter without heat, then the answer is pretty obvious, but if it’s replacing a car that you’ve driven for five years and you want another one, you had better do some thinking!

Is this item right for me today?

Nothing is worse than buying something and realizing very quickly after you purchased it that it may not fit your needs.  This example may be dated, but think of purchasing a new computer.  What if you purchased a desktop computer but quickly realized that a laptop might have been more fitting?

Will this item be right for me tomorrow?

This is an important step to consider when making a major mb-2015-09-checklistpurchase, simply because you don’t want to repeat the purchase too soon down the road.  Consider a couple purchasing a home.  This is definitely a major purchase.  When looking at homes and determining what type and size of home to purchase, they need to consider that they may want to start a family.  If so, then they should make sure that the homes they look at can fulfill this need, especially since the purchase costs of a home typically take at least a few years to make back, even in an appreciating real estate market.

Is this going to last as long as I need it?

This question can definitely tie back to the purchase price.  If you’re buying a major appliance, sometimes it might be worth it to pay more for a quality item versus purchasing the cheapest one, only to have to replace it much sooner than planned on.

Can I afford this?

This one is pretty self explanatory.  You have to figure out how you’re going to pay for whatever it is you’re buying.  If you can’t afford it, you might scrap the idea for now, but in some cases (e.g. the aforementioned furnace that went legs up), you might not have a choice.  Then, you get into the fun part of…

How am I going to pay for this?

Deciding how to pay for your purchase is something that you need to spend a lot of time thinking about.  Can you afford cash?  Can you get a loan?  If so, is the interest rate reasonable?  How long will you be paying for it?  In all cases, you should not only consider the costs associated with each payment option, but consider the trade-offs associated with each item.  If you pay cash for something, you might be putting your emergency fund at risk.  If you take out a long car loan, you might be hamstrung on your monthly budget in other areas.  Broaden your scope of considerations beyond just the cost of that item.

If you consider these six essential steps before making a major purchase, you will definitely be on the right path.  Each purchase is unique, so there are assuradely going to be other things you think about depending on what it is you’re purchasing and your personal financial situation, but make sure that you don’t skip past any of these, and remember, honesty is the best policy!

Readers, what major purchases have you made recently and what were the considerations that you put in before making the purchase?  Or did thinking about things make you delay or cancel the purchase altogether?  I’d love to hear your input in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.