Bargain Shopper Blog

Take the “Buy Nothing New Month” challenge

Jodie McLeod - Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I love setting myself a challenge when it comes to bargain shopping. Whether it’s to buy a hot wedding outfit for under $100 or to only buy supermarket-brand groceries for one week — setting mini money-saving goals like this can really help to keep spending habits in check and cash in your wallet. So when I heard about Salvos Stores’ “Buy Nothing New Month” it seemed like the perfect way to turn the month of October from a frivolous springtime spending spree into a thoughtful, environmentally-friendly, cash-conscious couple of weeks — with the chance to win prizes!

The idea is that during the month of October you only buy recycled goods (except for food, bills and necessities) — no matter what. Whether you need a new fridge, a new dress or a new set of dinner plates to host that daylight-savings barbeque, this month — if you take Salvos Stores’ challenge — you have to buy, borrow, barter or swap for stuff that’s 100 per cent genuine second hand.

I've started off the month by borrowing a book from a friend, which I probably would have bought fresh from the bookshop (in fact, I would have bought the whole series...) had I not been on my "nothing new diet", which has easily saved me $100. 

Apart from all the moolah you’ll save, getting on board Buy Nothing New Month will also take a load off the environment — literally — by slowing down the amount waste that goes to land fill.

The charity organisation is also giving away some rather appealing prizes in the form of cold hard cash (1st prize is $5000!) and other goodies. All you have to do is write in 150 words how you’ve changed your behaviour and bought nothing new in October (you also have to buy something from Salvos Stores), and then upload your photo or video onto the competition website. So you could actually earn money from showing off your bargain-buying talents. Grab all the details from www.nothingnew.com.au.

Need some inspiration on where to shop for pre-loved fashion and homewares during Buy Nothing New Month? Browse Bargain Shopper's listings for Vintage & Recycled fashion in Sydney, Charity Outlets in Sydney and Vintage & Pre-loved Fashion in Melbourne; or locate your nearest Salvos Store here


We’d love to know about your pre-loved purchases during Buy Nothing New Month. Share them below or let us know on Facebook or Twitter. How has the Salvos Stores' initiative made you rethink your buyer behaviour?

Daily deals: do you get what you don’t pay for?

Jodie McLeod - Monday, September 27, 2010
Daily deals have momentarily taken over my world. Along with doubling my inbox’s waistline, they’ve added a host of new bargain-priced temptations to my wish list of “one-day-only!” specials from private online sales clubs, retail stores and shopping centres — all begging me to buy them, day in and day out. Not that that’s a bad thing ... I love bargains as much as the people you see camped out the front of department stores before Boxing Day. But are daily deals really all they’re cracked up to be?

The daily deal craze has swooped Australia this year, with around a dozen websites now offering experiences and goodies to their subscribers every day that — because of their ingenious group-buying concept or limited product availability — are much cheaper than the normal going rate. The concept, which started with the company Groupon in the US, works like this: local businesses make an offer on their product, pricing it at sometimes up to 70 per cent off recommended retail and, once a certain number of people agree to purchase the offer, the deal is “activated” and whoever wants to buy it can enjoy the deal.

Most daily deals websites focus on pampering, entertainment and active/leisure experiences — from discounted horse-riding adventures to salsa dancing lessons, facials and fancy dinners. While I’ve been tempted by these offers of cheap manicures, discount teeth-whitening treatments and accommodation packages, I’m yet to purchase a “deal of the day”. And, before I do, I’m curious to know whether some of these deals really deliver the on the promise of a full-retail-price experience for half (or lower than half) the original cost. Do you get what you don’t pay for?

Case in point: A friend of mine recently bought a hair treatment through a daily deals website, which amazingly included a hair cut, colour, foils, conditioning treatment and blow-dry at a reputable inner-city salon — all valued at $350 — for just $99. My friend (let’s call her Britney) thought she was in for the royal treatment at a third of the cost, but it didn’t turn out that way. During the session, Britney felt she wasn’t treated like a full-price-paying customer. She says she was rushed through the process without thorough consultation from the hair stylist and left feeling like her $99 — even though she had supposedly saved $250 — was a waste of money.

Of course, with some daily deals the offers are more clear-cut, such as half-price gelato or 60 per cent off the price of theatre tickets. But since many offers are hosted by small- to medium-sized local businesses that may not be used to such an influx of customers, the room for dropping the ball in terms of quality of service and the customer experience increases.

Buying a bargain shouldn’t mean you have to compromise on quality; and if the quality is diminished somehow, the consumer should be informed before they make the purchase.

The moral of the story? Before jumping on a deal or if you’re concerned about product standard, do your research. Check the supplier, read reviews, make use of the daily deals website’s social networking avenues to talk about the offers and the experiences they deliver. Alternatively, you can throw caution to the wind — which is how daily deals websites are meant to be enjoyed — and have a great night out for a fraction of the price. Just don’t sweat the small stuff. Ten-course degustation dinner for $35, anyone?

What have you bought from a daily deals website and was it a good experience? Did you feel you were treated differently from customers paying full price? If you buy a bargain deal, do customers have the right to complain if it doesn’t meet expectations?

Comment below, or email
bargainguru@universalmagazines.com.au



Daily deals websites in Australia

www.dealsextra.com.au
www.jumponit.com
www.cudo.com.au 
www.ourdeal.com.au
www.allthedeals.com.au
www.scoopon.com.au
www.spreets.com.au
www.ouffer.com
www.catchoftheday.com.au
www.ourdeal.com.au
www.livingsocial.com (coming soon)

Father’s Day bargain gift ideas

Bargain Guru - Friday, August 20, 2010
When it comes to buying Dad a gift for Father’s Day, size does not necessarily matter (size of your receipt total that is!). You can still find quality, meaningful presents that show just your how much you love him without spending all of your Spring savings.

Here is a handful of bargain gift ideas — and where to find them — at various price points.

$0 – $20 

Accessories: Dads can never get enough ties, belts, sunglasses or caps — all of which can be found at most factory outlets for under $20. Find your favourite menswear factory outlets by browsing Bargain Shopper’s listings for Sydney and Melbourne.
Food: Whether your dad loves to cook or just eat good food, buying him a few gourmet food products can be the way to his heart. Hop down to your local gourmet markets and pick a few pots of olives, pesto, dukkha and some dipping bread — or anything else you see that would tickle his taste buds. Browse Bargain Shopper's listings of Sydney markets and Melbourne markets
Bathroom bits: While he might not admit it, Dad loves to be pampered as well. Track down your closest discount chemist or health store and pick up a moisturiser, shaving cream and razor, or a made-for-men body scrub and loofah. See Bargain Shopper’s listings of discount health and beauty stores for Sydney and Melbourne.
Breakfast out of bed! Don’t force him to eat your infamous sunny-side-sideways eggs again. Instead, take him out for a morning meal. Many cafes have big-breakfast deals inclusive of coffee and juice on their menus for around $20. Pick your favourite haunt and enjoy a leisurely morning. Just be wary of Sunday surcharges.
Get crafty: And we don’t just mean in the pipe-cleaners and toilet-paper-rolls kind of way. We mean — think about the small (inexpensive) things that your father or man in the house loves to do and invent ways to make that experience better. Does he like to watch the footy on the weekend? If so, set up his favourite chair in front of the TV with snacks and a cold beverage-of-choice ready to go at kick-off. Does he enjoy the outdoors? Put together a picnic basket filled with his favourite foods and take a drive out of the city (just pray for nice weather!). Check out the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services or Parks Victoria websites  for inspiration.
Photo memories: Put together a selection of family photographs and upload them onto your dad’s (or your children's dad's) smart phone. That way — he can take his loved ones with him everywhere!
Movie ticket + a choc top: Simple pleasures are sometimes the best. 

$20 – $50

Sporting accessories: If he’s got the right equipment, he’ll perform better, right? Well, that’s what his father used to say, and his father’s father, and his father’s father’s father. It’s the little sports gear details that count, too (which are in the ideal gift-giving price bracket) — such as quality golf balls, golf tees and gloves. For these, try www.golfclearanceoutlet.com.au (and note the $10* postage charge); or browse Bargain Shopper’s bargain sports store listings for Sydney and Melbourne.
Clothes: If the line between Dad's mowing outfit and his Sunday Best is beginning to blur, check out these bargain menswear retailers in Sydney and Melbourne to replenish his stocks. You’re sure to find tees, shorts, underwear and more for $40 or less.
BBQ tools: There aren’t many places dads feel more at home than standing around the barbeque. Give him the right tools and not only will he feel better equipped, but your snags will taste better, too. We spotted a stainless steel barbecue set by Avanti on www.kitchendirect.com.au for $39.95*, along with plenty of other tools under $40. Get cooking!
Wine: By the time a man reaches fatherhood, he probably knows (or at least appreciates) a thing or two about wine. Pander to his palette with a nice bottle or two, or bump up your price limit and buy a half to one dozen bottles from discount wine retailers such as Grays Online Auctions, or — if you’re in Melbourne — from the plethora of local wine clearance outlets listed in Bargain Shopper’s Food and Drink section.

Over $50

Sports game tickets: Whether he’s a mad Rugby League fan, an Australian Rules supporter or just loves going to the horse races, there’s a ticket out there that’s perfect for him. Visit www.ticketek.com.au or www.ticketmaster.com.au to purchase tickets (take note of discounts when you buy for groups); or for a last-minute deal try www.lasttix.com.au, which often offers cut-price tickets for sporting games.
Technology: We know our dads love technology, but spending a lot of money on technology gifts doesn’t always work in everyone’s favour. He probably has very clear ideas about the kind of home entertainment system, laptop or digital camera he wants. Instead of buying expensive top-shelf products that don’t meet his needs, reach for less expensive technology accessories that he’ll love, such as a mobile phone case and card wallet in one, or an iPhone arm band for exercising. Compare prices on the website Get Price to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Bulk-buy meat: There aren't many men out there who don't love a good steak. But for the price you’d pay in a restaurant for one round of prime rump you could get weeks’ worth of meat if you bought in bulk from a quality butcher. There are many web-based butchers that deliver excellent-quality, fresh or frozen meat packs to your door. For the Sydney region, try Farm Meat Online, where we spotted a half meat pack for $145* , or www.sydneymeats.com.au where you can buy 12kgs of beef for $150*. If in Melbourne, try www.thefarmersmarket.com.au, where we spotted 10kg beef packs for a reduced price of $165.*

*Prices valid at time of writing.

What will you be buying Dad for Father’s Day? Do you have any other suggestions for bargain gifts?

Online clothes shopping — take the risk, wear the cost?

Jodie McLeod - Friday, July 09, 2010
I am considering buying a pair of heavily discounted jeans online, and while I’m not baulking at the price (they're a steal — discounted from $180 to $75) the $10 postage fee has got me thinking: what if they don’t fit? What if the style doesn’t suit my shape? Of course, I can send them back, but is it worth it?

Is it a better “bargain” to take the risk of them not fitting and wear the postage fee (plus the extra postage cost and inconvenience of returning them) or to drive to a mall or jeans-laden shopping district and spend half a day trying on denim to find the perfectly-fitting pair, knowing that no money has gone to waste?

Considering I don’t particularly enjoy trying on jeans (it’s such a rigmarole to strip off your pants time after time and squeeze into those super-stiff-with-newness strides!) the answer is more or less staring me in the face. Paying for postage is paying for convenience of having the jeans ushered straight to your home for you to try on in front of your own private tell-it-like-it-is bedroom mirror.

I also figure that I probably wouldn’t be able to find as good a bargain in-store, and I’d end up spending that $10 anyway on parking and a food court lunch.

But what if the first pair doesn’t fit, and then the second and third pairs of jeans don’t fit either? Then I’m up to around $50 in debt with nothing to show for it. Maybe I should find a store that stocks this brand and style, try them on, then buy online. But by then the sale could be over!

It's all a matter of weighing up your priorities against convenience and cost. I think in this case I will "add to cart"... 

Do you always make sure you try on clothes in-store before buying them online? Or are you willing to take the pay-for-postage risk? Have you ever bought and sent back clothing items more than once, and was it worth it?

Comment below or email bargainguru@universalmagazines.com.au

Winter wardrobe essentials

Jodie McLeod - Thursday, July 01, 2010
Winter has more than arrived and our summer outfits have disappeared into hibernation. Hard as it is to get out of bed on these frosty mornings, for me it’s even harder finding something to wear. In summer I’m happy to throw on a sun dress and thongs; in winter it’s all about socks, tights, long sleeved tops, jackets, gloves and hats…

As with all my bargain fashion decisions, in winter I calculate value for money according to cost per wear. I might spend a small fortune on a dress, but if I wear it to death then the expense is justified. If, on the other hand, I buy a cheap item but rarely wear it, my pocket change was wasted. There are certain items in my wardrobe that fit into the first category — where items practically pay for themselves given how often I wear them. Here are my top five priceless pieces that are getting a good workout right now:

1. Black cotton leggings. These are a pivotal part of my winter uniform. I wear them with everything — summer dresses, winter dresses, oversized shirts. Just call me liquorice legs.
2. Fine wool cardigans. Country Road and Witchery do great basic cardis that can be worn year-round; I own them in black and grey so am pretty much covered for every outfit.
3. Flat leather boots. Heeled versions might look nicer, but when all’s said and done I’m a lazy girl who prefers to be comfortable when it’s cold. Worn over leggings or jeans, with dresses or skirts, these are a winner in any colour (though I favour black and brown).
4. A silk party dress. It’s tricky to look pretty in winter, thanks to the bulk of layers. Thank goodness for my long-sleeve cream silk dress (picked up at a Bettina Liano sale) that I can dress up with stockings, heels and a belt, or dress down with leggings.
5. Ugg Boots. Not exactly a fashion statement but Uggs are the perfect footwear to come home to at night or wear on the way to yoga.

What items in your wardrobe are worth their weight in gold in the colder months? Comment on the Bargain Shopper blog or email bsgm@universalmagazines.com.au

Online shopping money-savers

Bargain Guru - Tuesday, June 22, 2010
We all know there’s a goldmine of online discount stores on the web, but there’s also a handful of website gems that can help you save even more money as you shop. Here is a bunch of my favourite online bargain shopping resources:

Coupon codes

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: never purchase something online without first searching online for a coupon code. There’s often a better deal out there that’s just a coupon code away. Simply enter the store name and the words “coupon code” into Google and see what comes up. Or conduct a search on Retail Me Not (www.retailmenot.com). The codes with the highest success rate are the most reliable. Another site that lists coupon codes as well as vouchers, deals and freebies is OzBargain (www.ozbargain.com.au). Follow them on Twitter and Facebook to hear about the latest deals.

Best price

There’s nothing better than knowing you got the best price on a great-quality product. The website Getprice (www.getprice.com.au) is a convenient way to compare costs of a range of products — from computers to clothing and kids’ toys, so you can find the lowest price. Shopbot (www.shopbot.com.au) does the same kind of thing. Then there are more specialised “best price” websites such as Zuji (www.zuji.com.au), which scans airline carriers, hotels and travel agencies for the best flights and accommodation prices. Trust me — these websites save you hours of phone calls and shop visits to find the best deal.

Cash back

Did you think that by buying online you were cutting out the “middle man” and all the costs that went with him? Well, that’s sometimes true, but there is still often extra cash passing hands in many online transactions that would be better off being in your wallet. Enter: MoneyBackCo (www.moneybackco.com.au) — a website that pays what’s known as “referral money” (the money earned by a website to “refer” shoppers onto purchasing from another website) back to you, the customer. There is an annual fee of $10, but this could quickly be redeemed, depending on how often you shop online. Our advice is to inspect MoneyBackCo’s lists of merchants, and if you think you would make a number of purchases from these web stores per year, it could be worth it. You’d just have to remember to make purchases through MoneyBackCo (ie log into their website first then buy your product via their website) to ensure you get the money back. We spotted some good merchants, including StrawberryNet, iSubscribe, Perfume Empire, Zodee and travel companies such as Qantas and Expedia.

Catalogues

I am lucky (or cursed?) that I live within close proximity to three major grocery stores, and three major shopping malls in Sydney. So how do I decide where I’m going to shop each week? If time is on my side, I’ll scan the catalogues on Lasoo (www.lasoo.com.au), which conveniently sources all the catalogue specials of the week from major retailers, from food to homewares and electrical goods. Just spotted a special on Lindt dark chocolate selling for $1.75 a block at Coles. Toodooloo!

Bulk buy — minus the bulk

I was very excited when I heard about the US website Get Grouby (www.getgrouby.com), which allows people to make bulk-buy savings without having to deal with the bulk. That is, you can nominate to purchase a product via Get Grouby, then wait for a group of people to do the same. Once there are enough people in your group to make the purchase, the product is yours at bulk-buy price, but split between the people in your group. Thankfully, there are websites in Australia that offer the same kind of service. Our Deal (www.ourdeal.com.au) gives you collective buying power on a range of things to eat, see and do in your city, with savings of up to 70 per cent. OfferMe (www.offerme.com.au) also has a Group Buy service, with categories ranging from technology to travel and some fashion and accessories. Both websites look impressive, and each service gives you the ability to tell all your friends about your prospective purchase using the integrated social networking tools — the aim being to get enough people on board your bulk-buy so you can all enjoy the discount!

What’s your favourite online resource that helps you save money when shopping? Comment below or email bargainguru@universalmagazines.com.au

What bargains are in your beauty case?

Jodie McLeod - Tuesday, June 08, 2010
I’ll show you mine if you show me yours...

Today, I have brought my beauty case into work. Not just so I can touch up before heading out to a ‘do’ tonight, but to share with you whatever secrets I have in there for saving money on beauty products while not scrimping on quality.

Sure, we’d all love to be able to afford a bottle of SK–II AirTouch Foundation (retailing at Myer for $198) or La Crème night moisturiser by Cle de Peau — (just a mere AU $677.50 on StrawberryNET.com) — but not all of us enjoy the income of Aussie screen goddess Cate Blanchett (SK-II’s global ambassador) or Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen, who reportedly uses said liquid-gold crème.

What we need are products that have the desired effect without costing us our weekly wage. We also don’t want to waste money on eye shadows that crack or foundations that look great in the shop but turn into packet-mix icing in natural light. That’s why I’m about to compile a few of my best tips — as well some recommendations from girls in the office — about products that work... on a budget.

Bargain Guru

What are your favourite budget beauty buys? Comment below or email bargainguru@universalmagazines.com.au


FOUNDATION


“I use L’Oreal True Match foundation which only costs $32.45 at Priceline. The liquid is so light that it doesn’t clog my pores or make me feel like I’m wearing a mask everyday. It glides on easily and a little goes a long way with full coverage. I find it a great match for my skin tone and can be worn day or night.” — Kim

“I love the Body Shop Moisture Foundation ($31.95). They have an oil-free version of it, which is perfect for me ‘cause my face gets a bit oily during the day. It’s the only foundation that doesn't make me break out and feels really light. It isn't super pricey either.” — Alex

“One of my make-up indulgences is Colour Ideal foundation by Lancôme ($80, Myer). It’s expensive, but I only ever buy it when there’s a Gift with Purchase, and I usually only use it at night or for special occasions. It’s silky smooth and gives great, soft coverage. For work, I find Max Factor Lasting Performance foundation (around $37) provides good coverage without looking cakey.” — Bargain Guru

“I'd recommend the Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Pre-Foundation Primer ($49.50*) — it's divine! Your skin feels really fresh right after you put it on. It's a small tube and a tiny bit pricey but you’re not meant to slather on primer, so it lasts 8 to 12 months.” — Alex

* Primers by Napoleon Set — NP’s less expensive brand available at NP concept stores, Target, and some pharmacies — cost $39.

EYES

“I have been through some eye shadows in my time, and the one that has lasted forever without cracking is a Natio compact in mocha (around $13). It also highlights well and stays in place all day through to night. It’s less than half the price of my Napoleon Perdis eye shadow colour discs ($25), which ironically both cracked.” — Bargain Guru

“When it comes to eyeliner, use pencils with built-in sharpeners. L’Oreal, Revlon and Max Factor are my favourite brands (around $25). There’s no use wasting cash on a pencil and a sharpener, especially when you end up with shavings and pencil gunk all through your kit.” — Bargain Guru

LIPS

“My friends and I all swear by Lucas' Pawpaw Ointment. We use it as lip gloss. It's great for dry/cracked lips during winter and you can mix it with a darker lip gloss/lipstick over the top. It's about $5 (sometimes less) from Priceline/pharmacies for a 25g tube but it lasts forever. You can also buy large tubs of it, which are really cheap.” — Eliza

“Face of Australia Lip Glaze: there's gorgeous range of colours and it gives you the perfect amount of gloss and shine without being too sticky (so you won’t have to worry about your hair getting stuck to your lips on a windy day!). Unlike more expensive lip glosses, this range comes in at under $10.” — Natasha

BODY

“Nivea Body Moisturiser: it’s creamy, not too thick or oily and leaves your skin feeling oh-so soft. It also only has a light fragrance and is very affordable at around $7 for a 400ml bottle.” — Natasha

“I like Palmer’s Moisturising Body Oil: it smells good and is quickly absorbed if you apply just after you get out of the shower... and only costs around $10.” — Alaana

FACE

“Johnson’s Facial Cleansing Wipes (around $7 for a pack of 25): They’re perfect for when you’re in a rush or can’t be bothered going through your whole beauty routine at the end of a long day. Takes off all of your make-up easily and leaves your face feeling clean and fresh, but not dry. You can also find value-packs of three at Woolworths, Big W and some pharmacies.” — Natasha

“QV Face Gentle Cleanser (around $13 from chemists). I find foaming cleansers clean the best, but usually leave your skin feeling tight and dry — even top brands like Clarins and Lancôme make my face feel like a stretched canvas! QV’s cleanser washes the dirt and make-up away (you don’t even have to use a toner) but is extremely gentle, and cheap! I also love the QV Exfoliating Polish ($11), which is light and non-irritating.” — Bargain Guru

“Sukin Natural Skincare — it’s a range of organic products you can get in chemists and health food stores. I use the Facial Moisturiser (around $10 for 125ml). It’s brilliant and it’s all natural. I have really dry skin so this is nourishing and quickly absorbed without being greasy.” — Alaana

NAILS

“I recommend Sportsgirl ‘Nail It’ nail polish. Of all the nail polishes I've tried, it lasts the longest by far — even when compared with your more expensive nail polishes like O.P.I., Sally Hansen, Revlon etc. There is a HUGE range of colours and they're only about $6 or $7 each. You can sometimes get them on sale for even cheaper.” — Eliza



You know you're a bargain shopper when...

Beth Anderson - Thursday, May 13, 2010
1. You excitedly tell anyone within hearing range how much you paid for your latest bargain. You also throw in the original price (and perhaps the percentage saved) for good measure.

2. You find yourself standing on tip toes or squatting on the floor at the supermarket. You know that premium-position shelves at eye-level are bought rather than earned, so the best bargains are to be had in the ‘cheap seats’.

3. You’re a member of every frequent flyer or rewards program for which membership is free. You have a VIP shopping card for all your favourite stores. In short - you love freebies.

4. You can’t remember the last time you paid full price for a piece of clothing. You assess your outfit each day and pride yourself not only on its price but also the value per wear achieved.

5. You find yourself advertising upcoming sales to friends and work colleagues via text, phone, email, Facebook — and any other means of communication within reach.

6. The last time you went to the movies any day other than Tuesday was back when your parents still bought your ticket.

7. You go out of your way to find a petrol station that offers a shopping docket deal. Even though you know it will only incur a saving of a few dollars, it’s still better than paying full price.

8. You’re going on holidays and suspend your gym membership for the duration of the trip — even if you’ll only be away for a week.

9. You wouldn’t dream of buying something on the ‘just arrived’ rack — even if it’s in a factory outlet.

10. You buy your summer clothes in winter and your winter clothes in summer. Sure, you might not be able to wear those lovely boots on a 35-degree day, but come winter they’ll be a welcome alternative to your thongs.

What telltale sign proves you’re a bargain hunter? Comment on the Bargain Shopper blog or email bsgm@universalmagazines.com.au

Are you a happy shopper?

Jodie McLeod - Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Who do you think is happier — the bargain hunter who shops around for the absolute best deal, or the consumer who is content with finding a product that’s “good enough”? The answer may surprise...

At the 2010 Happiness and its Causes conference taking place in Sydney this week, author and professor of psychology Barry Schwartz is speaking about consumer happiness, and how the availability of so much choice in the market has led many of us to become anxious, indecisive, over-shoppers who are obsessed with finding the best deal, and who are more miserable for it.

Where we might have once been content to buy the local baker’s bread, the corner store’s milk and household goods from the closest shopping mall, we are now so spoilt for choice that we overanalyse every purchase and literally “shop til we drop”, which — a study by Schwartz has shown — increases the likelihood of being unhappy with our buys.

Whether it’s the kind of milk we’re buying at the supermarket or an internet package or a pair of jeans — the abundance of choice is bewildering. And the more time we spend ensuring we make the “right” choice, the more likely we are to be dissatisfied.

Your consumer personality

In his book The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, Schwartz shows how everyone has a kind of consumer 'personality', which falls somewhere on a scale: at one end are “maximisers” — those who always try to make the best possible choice when shopping, and at the other end are “satisficers” — those who are content with “good enough” and who are not worried by the possibility that something might be better.

While maximisers spend time researching, looking online, checking labels, and reading consumer magazines — they were found to be less happy with their purchases than those who were satisfied with “good enough”. Maximisers are more susceptible to feelings of regret and failure if they find out — post-purchase — that they overlooked a better deal.

So — would you consider yourself a maximiser or a satisficer? As bargain shoppers, there’s probably a bit of maximiser in all of us; but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re unhappy shoppers. There are definitely ways to take the anxiety out of “maximisier” shopping, and to put the happiness back into the experience of finding the best deal.

How to be a happy shopper

Schwartz himself touched on the solution in an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald. The university professor said he has a vision of a community of friends where someone is the expert on consumer electronics, another on restaurants, another on computers and so on — so that you can effectively “outsource” the decision-making (and the anxiety that surrounds it) to friends when you need to find the best deal on a product you don’t know much about.

I think the reason I don’t get too up-tight about shopping for “the best” is because  I outsource a lot of the decision-making to the Bargain Shopper website (apologies for the blatant self-promo — but it's true!). Where shall I shop for jeans today? Or where will I find the best deals on underwear? Just type it into the search box and you can be pretty confident you’ll find a shop with excellent value for money.

But there definitely are times when I find myself shopping all day only to find absolutely zilch that is “good enough”, or I regret buying something because I find out my friend found a better deal elsewhere, which inevitably does make me a bit miserable.

The solution? Schwartz suggests practising a few “satisficer” habits, which might include limiting the number of shops you visit, giving yourself a time deadline to make a purchase, and changing your shopping criterion from “best” to “good enough”.

I’m thinking if I change my standards from “drop dead amazing” to “pretty darn good”, feelings of regret and failure will be a-goner, and I’ll be a happy shopper forever more!

Now that would be better than best.


Are you a maximiser or a satisficer? Are you always happy with your purchases? How do you take the anxiety out of finding the best deal?

Resentful Spending

Jodie McLeod - Thursday, April 15, 2010
There are some things I hate spending money on. From gym gear to homewares and petrol, these are my begrudged buys.

It seems my hard-earned money disappears each week into a bottomless well of necessities. I can understand rent and groceries — I like a roof over my head and food on my plate — but do I really need to buy things that will provide no pleasure? Yes, my runners have holes in them (probably because I drag my feet all the way to the gym) but I’d much rather buy a nice dress than a new pair. And sure I need sensible work clothes, but I’ll only wear them while sitting in front of a computer all day. Each time I make such a purchase, I’m sure I scare off the shop attendant with my gritted teeth and scowls.

So what can be done to ease the pain of buying these unwanted but necessary things in our lives? For me, it’s all about finding the best bargain and laughing in the face of over-priced goods.

For example, when my runners were banned from the gym recently I hit the outlets for a discounted pair. Has anyone seen the cost of sportswear lately? For something you’re just going to sweat in, it’s ridiculously overpriced. By hitting the retail outlets, I spent $70 instead of $200. Not so painful.

When stocking up on work clothes, I make a list of what I need, always looking for maximum versatility. There’s no point buying a top that will only go with one thing; think simple and basic, so you can wear each item with a variety of skirt, pants and dress combinations. I’ve also found that layers go a long way; think black leggings and long-sleeve tops. What was once merely a lovely summer dress for the warmer months can be thrown over the trusty aforementioned pieces for a cosy outfit in winter.

The next undesirable is homewares. Whether you’re hosting or attending a party, you generally need platters, cheese knives or serving bowls. My solution is to hit the op shops. I’ve found some great items; $5 never-been-used china platters; old-fashioned cutlery and 50¢ champagne saucers for the races. At such low prices, it doesn’t matter if you break them or leave the lot behind.

Last on my black list is petrol. I hate buying it but don’t get very far without it. Like everything else in my life, I shop around for the best price, take discount shopping dockets along for the ride and make my purchase on the lower-priced days — namely Tuesdays and Wednesdays. And, to reward my endeavours, I buy myself a sweet treat for the journey home.

What are your resentful purchases? Comment below or email bsgm@universalmagazines.com.au

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