Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Savvy Shopper's Savings Make Sister-In-Law Green With Envy

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I have a problem that I have never seen addressed elsewhere, so I thought I would write to you.  My issue is with my sister-in-law.  To look at her (and her house) you would think she was made of money.  She is always impeccably dressed in designer clothing, perfectly coiffed because she just stepped out of the student-hairdresser salon, wearing makeup that makes her look like she is still in her twenties (she is almost forty).  The inside of her house is just as amazing. 

When you walk into her living room, the first thing you see is her furniture – antique hardwood that she bought for a song due to the distressed condition and re-upholstered for an equally low price by buying the fabric from the manufacturer’s wholesale outlet.  She has adorable decorative touches that she claims to have purchased at estate sales for a fraction of their retail cost.  Recently, she completely redecorated the master bedroom on a budget of less than $1000, but in spite of the low cost, it looks like something straight out of a magazine; complete with several sets of brand-new, 500+ thread count sheets that she found on clearance for 75% off!

When I try to find similar deals, I am never successful.  I have asked my sister-in-law if I could “tag along” the next time she goes shopping, but she always seems to go on the spur of the moment when I am not available.  She has offered to help me surf the web for deals, but I am not comfortable buying online; whatever I purchase never looks as good as it does in the photo, whereas – again – my sister-in-law’s purchases look even better than pictured.

Thanksgiving is coming up, and I know my sister-in-law has a day-trip to New England planned for Black Friday, where she will come home with tons of amazing new stuff – most of which she will have carefully and thoughtfully purchased as Christmas gifts for friends and family – for which she will have paid almost nothing, as usual. 

I realize that my jealousy is starting to cause resentment, and I was hoping you might have some advice on how I can learn to shop like she does.  My sister-in-law really is an amazing person, and I do not want my jealousy to ruin our relationship, but I feel so frumpy and inadequate when I am around her!  I wish that I had her luck when it comes to finding great deals.  Do you think this is something that can be learned, Tazi?  Or is it just a talent that some people have and others don’t. 


Dear Short-Changed:

Your sister-in-law sounds like my kind of shopper!  I, too, would love to know where she shops and when so my Mommie can scoop up some of those great deals you described in your letter [Ed. Note: The letter was edited due to length].  For the sake of brevity, I will refer to your sister-in-law as “Sally”.

I spoke with a cat friend who has a Mommie like Sally – a woman who is always finding amazing deals - and I got the inside story.  The truth is that people who find deals like Sally tend to go shopping with an open mind and do not expect to find anything.  This way, if they do not find anything, they do not feel pressured to buy something in order to avoid going home empty-handed.  To them, no trip is a wasted trip. 

Secondly, shoppers like Sally do not have narrow parameters when it comes to the subjective.  They can just as easily live with the walls being painted pale blush rather than off-white if pale blush paint is what was on clearance when they decided to paint the walls.  Tag sales and estate sales are great places to find expensive treasures for low prices, but you often have to dig through a lot of junk to find them.  This requires the time and effort that separates shoppers like Sally from the rest of us.

As for shopping online, if you go into it thinking inside the box nothing you purchase will look as good as it does online simply because you are picturing what you see as how you want it to look – not as it actually looks.  If your bedroom is done in Victorian style, then look for Victorian touches – not Victorian touches in a particular size, color, and shape that simply must match all of your parameters.  What you seek may exist, but you will most likely overlook many good deals that almost match all of your parameters and end up pay full-price for an exact match.  Sites such as Ebates.com and NexTag can act as a search engine to great deals on websites you probably did not know existed.  As for purchasing clothing online, if the model wearing the outfit is 5’10” and willowy, and you are 5’5” and stocky, the clothing is simply not going to look the same as in the photo!

Designer clothing can be purchased for discount at stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx, as well as upscale consignment shops; or even the Salvation Army and Savers Thrift Stores, where the money from your purchases benefits programs that help the needy.  Salon services can be obtained for as much as 90% off retail price at schools such as the Paul Mitchell School of Beauty, where only the best students are allowed to work on customers. 

In short, if you are willing to invest the time it takes to find the bargains you can learn how to save like your sister-in-law; and look just as fantastic in the process.


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful advise Tazi. I would say the sister-in-law is my kind of shopper, as well. Hey, I say if you can do all that and save a ton of money, then AMEN SISTA!!