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Living on the budget is not all about just counting pennies. To save money, you need do your homework and to know how to do research on each of your planned big purchases. Here’s a quick but useful guide on how to investigate if both the seller and the item should be considered.
Here are some ways to check the seller’s reputation and past records as well as product reviews.
There was a time I spent a little too freely. I’d buy things when I wanted and worry about paying for it later on. For lunch I’d go out with the intention of window shopping to waste some time but come back with a sweater and new pants instead. It felt good when I’d buy something but the feeling would wear off especially when I’d get my credit cards bills which were slowly adding up in the thousands.
I’ve since curbed my spending ways (somewhat). But every now and then the itch returns and I get the urge to splurge. The frugal/saving side of my wants to let go. It’s like you see on a TV show when the devil and angel both appear on one of my shoulders and they argue it out. The angel usually wins out but sometimes the devil makes a good case!
So here are some confessions of a recovering spendaholic. These are things I sometimes think about and get the urge to spend on. I usually hold myself back but other times…
Last weekend we went to the American Girl store in Manhattan to buy my daughter a doll.
Have you heard of this place?
It’s a doll store that specializes in making the doll purchase a full experience for your child. Among the doll choices you have is their Just Like You collection where you pick out a doll that has features similar to your own (or my daughter in this case; I would make one ugly doll).
From the site:
Just Like You dolls help girls share their stories with the world. Every girl can find a doll to match her spirit and look—inside and out. The hair and eye color, skin tone, and outfits and accessories help bring their story, and friendship, to life. These 18-inch dolls are for ages 8 and up.
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
Each comes with a story book and a music CD. You can buy girl clothes that match the dolls’; there’s a theater; a cafe; a hair salon; even a doll hospital! Yes, you can already imagine it isn’t cheap! The doll we bought (left) was $90!!
Let me go back a sec and explain how we got here.
Last Spring my daughter went to the American Girl store with her Girl Scout troop. They were able to get a doll’s hair made up and had lunch at the cafe. If you didn’t own a doll they gave you a loaner.
Well, my daughter immediately wanted one of her own!
It wasn’t too hard to say no to her since the dolls are so expensive. But we did strike a deal with her: If she behaved (as best she could) and tried hard in school we would get her one for her birthday. She agreed. Keep in mind we didn’t go overboard for the holidays knowing we would be getting this doll for her birthday. Also, besides the party at home, this would be her only gift from us.
Did I mention the place has like three floors?!?
I went in with strong resolve, vowing to buy only the doll! But man do I have ADD when I walk into a store. They have accessories and dolls everywhere. It wasn’t long before I was asking my wife if we she get another outfit or an accessory too. We came real close but my wife, having more sense than me, said we came only for the doll and that’s what we’re getting!
Yes, it was expensive for what is essentially a trumped up Cabbage Patch kid.
But did my daughter smile when we got home!
I took a picture with her and the doll and it’s one of the most joyful smiles of her I’ve gotten on film. I know this is no excuse to spend money. I don’t think we’re spoiling her since she waited so long for it and we made sure to explain to her that this is an extra special gift, the likes of which she shouldn’t always expect.
Here’s a few justifications for buying it:
- We made her wait a while before buying it to make sure she not only deserved it but would still want it and take care of it.
- It was the only major gift she’s getting from us for her birthday. We got her small gifts for the holidays but nothing expensive.
- Our son is turning one two days before her birthday. Although we do our best to give equal attention to both of our children it’s inevitable that the little guy gets a bit more attention since he’s a baby. The doll is a special present for her for being so great with him this past year.
- We had the money in savings and will not be in debt because of it.
If your daughter has friends that own an American Girl doll now might be the time to explain to her she can no longer be friends with them. Unless you want to buy her one too. (Just kidding of course).
What do you think? Are we spoiling her? Are we guilty of “keeping up with the Joneses?”