Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Convuluted Lesson in Frugality

I'm not a brand snob. Really, I'm not. My mother is the queen of frugality, and I have learned well from her. (Ask me later about the frozen watermelon! I'll have to save that story for another blog post.)

But, yes, those are Nike swishes on my new tennies. I feel a little guilty about that, but maybe if I blog about it, I'll get over it. My husband has a love-hate relationship with the frugal nature of my character... and he talked me into getting these cute brown Nikes... but, no, I won't blame it on him.
Truth be told, I'm learning that some things are worth the extra money. I've always considered price first (and I still do) but cheaper is not always better.

For example, did you know that "high fructose corn syrup" is not only a cheap sweetener, it's also a preservative? I have been reading up on the controversy between HFCS and natural sugar, and I discovered that a lot of foods have HFCS added just because it extends the shelf life. So I've been reading labels more carefully. The cheap brand of chili beans had HFCS in it, and the name-brand didn't. Guess which one had more calories? I still buy a lot of off-brand groceries... but not without comparing ingredients.

But I digress. You wanted to hear about my Nikes, didn't you? Well... first, I have to tell you about my new coffee pot. It ties in. Really it does. (The groceries don't... but the coffee pot does!)

A few months ago, I was on a quest to make a great cup of coffee. My friend, Laura, recommended a particular coffee pot. When we were together this summer she fixed a pot of coffee so I could try it, and told me it was available at Kohl's. It made great coffee! The only drawback? It was $100, which seemed a little spendy to me for a coffee pot. Needless to say, I didn't run right out and buy one.

When we got home from our trip, I noticed we had accumulated quite a few "thank you" points on our credit card from all the traveling we did this summer... plane tickets to my grandmother's funeral, besides our road trip, etc. As I was browsing the gift site to see what I could get with my points, I noticed they had gift cards for Kohl's. And I had enough points to get the coffee pot! So that's what I did. I still felt a little guilty about spending that much "money" for a coffee pot... but it was somewhat easier because it was "free" money. (Okay. It's really not free, but you know what I mean.) As I was paying for the coffee pot, the cashier gave me a $30 gift certificate to use in Kohl's the next week. Apparently they were running a promotion where you would earn a certain amount of store credit depending on how much you spent.

In the meantime, I was needing new tennis shoes. I have been trying to get back into the habit of exercising, and my 10-year-old Reeboks are just about worn out. The Reebok outlet in our area went out of business awhile back, so I thought I would just get some cheap athletic shoes from Wal-Mart. They had the cutest white cheerleader shoes, with little sparkly colored tabs that slid into a pocket on the side to match your team's colors or whatever. Yes, I'm way too old (not to mention uncoordinated) to be a cheerleader... but I thought they would be good workout shoes. I just had on flip-flops that day so I didn't want to try them on in the store. I just grabbed a box in my size, thinking I could take them back if they didn't fit. After I got home with them my daughter opened them up to look at them and said, "Mom, did you know you got 2 right shoes... in 2 different sizes?" Of course I didn't know that! So I had to take them back after all. This time I made sure I had a matching pair! Unfortunately, they turned out to be uncomfortable. They didn't bend right with my foot. And I took them back again and didn't get more at Wal-Mart.

So when I got the extra $30 at Kohl's, I decided to see if I could find some tennies that fit there. They had a much wider selection than Wal-Mart, and lots of name brands. Lyle's the one who spotted the brown pair of Nikes. They were $45... but with my $30 off coupon, I got them for $15... which is cheaper than the cheap cheerleader shoes at Wal-Mart! See?

I'm lovin' my new tennies... and my new coffee pot! I'm glad I didn't have to pay full price for either one... but, to be honest, I kinda think it would have been worth it, even if I had.

I'm curious. What items do you insist on a particular brand?


Nikki said...

This post made me smile:) When things like this happen I just smile and bless God for being so sweet to provide things like this for our family. Just this week my husband spent $6 on a Tommy Hillfiger sweater and $6 on a Polo Ralph Lauren sweater at Goodwill! We would NEVER buy these brands at a normal retails store, and they look brand new!

I will start looking for HFCS in off-brands I did not know that!

I do buy name brand pizza sauce b/c we can tell a big difference. I also buy a name brand local milk b/c it is hormone and antibiotic free.

Anonymous said...

Heinz Ketchup. I can't stand other brands. Nothing tasted the same.

Jane Eborall said...

What an interesting post. Thanks. Made this old git sit up and take notice. I'm 'frugal' like you. I go by the phrase of 'do I need it or do I want it'!!! Saves me a fortune - I can talk myself out of anything!!! Thanks for the tip on food additives too - I'll be checking out the UK brands now.

A Romantic Porch said...

How interesting! Glad you have some nice things there. Can't just spit particular brands off the tip of my tongue, HOWEVER I am very careful about food. I don't want a bunch of "gunk" in it. Yep, sometimes the the "gunkie" kind is cheaper! xorachel

The Watts Family said...

The one thing I have to be particular about is certain gluten free foods. Some brands of gluten free food are so horrible it is a waste of money to buy them so I only buy certain food brands when buying gluten free. Enjoy those new sneakers and coffee :D

P.S. I also saw a really good special on CORN you can get it over at netflix under the documentaries it really is a must see. Corn is not easy to digest and really has not much nutritional value but you will be hard pressed to find food that does not include it in some shape or form....~Blessings Heather

Aliene said...

Can't believe you, kid! You know we southerns know how to make coffee. Even without a coffee pot.
(Hmm. Just might have to post on that one. ) Can't get my mind on posting much yet since Maw-Maw passed away. You just might have inspired me.

Glad you could get the pot, but it is not the pot that makes good coffee.
By the way~ Kohl's is my favorite store to shop at. Next will be Goodwill. Wanted to go today but it is pouring down rain.

Oh yeh! The clod hoppers. Glad they are comfy cause they sure ain't pretty. Ha. Love you.

Laura said...

Cute and funny post! Loved it.

Constance said...

KOHL's is my favorite store to shop! The best deal I got was my Kitchen Aid Mixer. It was on sale, then I got 30% off b/c I had gotten a peel off sticker on the flyer they mailed me PLUS I got a $25 gift card rebate to KOHL's. An amazing deal!

I Always bought Charlie's shoes at ROSS, He liked VANS and AIRWALK-he didn't care if they were from the previous season and I liked getting them for under $20!


Cynthia1770 said...

My google alert for HFCS picked up your post. In considering HFCS as a shelf-life extender, why would one purchase a food product that self-respecting bacteria avoid?
Ditch HFCS, especially HFCS-55.
To your health. Take care.

Nancy M. said...

Awesome savings on both! It's great that you were able to get those for so little real money!