September 6, 2010

Smart Shopping

The other day I tweeted about a recent Bath and Body Works purchase that saved me beaucoup money. For years now I've used one of the "classics" that now can only be bought online or in B&BW outlets. As the only Texas outlet is five hours away, I wait until B&BW online has a sale, and order in bulk. But because I order in bulk, unless I can reduce shipping costs, I don't bother. Last week I was able to buy each $9.50 bottle of shower gel for $6.00, and after finding and using a $10 off coupon somewhere online and getting free shipping, I paid $54 for ten bottles, tax included, and shipping eliminated. Had I flat out bought ten bottles, I would have spent more than $110. As you may surmise, I was pretty impressed with myself.

I've become an coupon - online and otherwise - fiend in recent months. Last month when it came time to buy Rachael her College Wardrobe, she decided she wanted to shop at Old Navy. We have a Gap card, which means shopping at Old Navy on a Tuesday results in a 10% discount, excluding coupons. Online coupons I located provided $10 off of $50 worth of purchases and $5 off of $25 worth of purchases. The sales clerk was willing to take her time with me, allowing me to use to two each of the coupons as well as the card discount, and as a result, we'd saved $100 via five separate purchases.

Before Groupon came to Dallas, I heard about it somewhere, and both my husband and I signed up well before it kicked off locally. Both of us have bought some great stuff through it, although paying attention to expiration dates is key.

I have a bit of my dad and my mom in me when it comes to spending money; it's a constant push me/pull you. Both grew up in poverty during the Depression, but his philosophy was "you can't take it with you" while my mom's has always been to save as much as possible. It can be hilarious given her wealth to take her to one of the local dollar stores to buy water bottles and another to buy batteries, but after this afternoon's experience, I'm hardly one to talk.

I've written before about my sensitive skin, and how, after finding perfect skin care regimens, the companies either go out of business or change formulations. I don't have acne - never have - but most of what is sold for women in their 40s is too creamy and rich for me. Recently I bought a Proactiv kit at a kiosk in a local mall, and discovered that the new formulations are gentle enough for my skin, and actually get rid of the blackheads on my nose and the deep-under-skin congestion I get on my temples. But I'm not using all the products at the same rate, and decided to see where I could buy additional cleanser and toner the cheapest. Using the Kiosk for convenience and speed comes at too high a price. It took me almost two hours to get the best deal today, and had I not engaged in an online chat, I'd have missed it altogether.

You can buy lots of Proactiv at Amazon, via different sources, but many sources are selling the old formulation, and I could get what I wanted, with free shipping, but without a guarantee (using the photos accompanying each item) that I'd be getting the newer formulation. Scratch Amazon.

With eBay it was much the same. So...on to QVC, where the prices were good. I thought I'd found an online coupon that would give me free shipping - one of those where you click the coupon and it actually opens the store's site, and it's not until check-out that you see the discount - but I was mistaken. No free shipping today for what I was buying, so by the time I realized I'd not only be paying tax but shipping as well, I decided I could do better elsewhere.

Next it was the actual Proactiv website, which I'd briefly visited yesterday, only to dismiss it as an option because I thought I'd be able to do was buy one of two kits being sold, neither of which interested me because I needed to pick and choose from among products. I returned today for further investigation and discovered I could do an online chat, during which I learned I could buy individual items, greatly discounted, btw, but only if I bought a kit first and became a member. As she and I chatted, I opened a new browser window to look up shipping and tax in their FAQ, saw there would be no tax added on, and shipping far more reasonable than QVC's. Yes, I'd have to buy a basic kit, but given the almost sample sizes, decided it would be perfect for that one-quart airline baggie allowed in airplane carry-on luggage. Five minutes later, after buying the smallest kit, I went back to the Proactiv website, where I accessed the catalog and bought the two items I wanted, which will last for two months, for a grand total of $30.89 (shipping included) versus $41.94 at QVC (which includes shipping but not the sales tax I'd be charged).

Once my first order actually ships - in a day or so - I'll be able to go into my Proactiv account and cancel the future automatic shipments so that I can continue to order piecemeal what I need. In the olden days - BSP (before smart phones) - that would have been a hassle, but with my phone's calendar (which syncs with Google calendar since I use a Droid), if I'm unable to cancel all future shipments, I can schedule cancellations easily and timely.

Now it's time to print out some Ulta coupons so I can buy some new nail polish. The Opi I bought years ago still does its job, but I'm running out.



Blythe said...

My mom was the queen of bargain hunting. As a child, I spent countless hours at garage sales, Marshalls, and the day-old bread store.

I do love a bargain, but I think there IS a time/money component. Sometimes it's worth the time, and sometimes it just isn't. For example, I used to shop at two grocery stores every week, catching the major bargains from each one (lest you consider being impressed with this, I'll add that my mom shopped at ALL the local stores, not just two). I eventually had to give that up. It saved me money, no question, but on the whole I found that I couldn't handle the time involved.

However, I do shop with coupons, both at the grocery store and elsewhere. And I have a million punch cards too. I also think the Gap card is well worth it for anyone who shops a lot at our brands (with the caveat that you really should pay it off every month).

Laurie Gold said...

Bargain hunting is such a strange thing. My sister is more like my dad was. She doesn't EVER seek one out, and tends to be more of a brand shopper. Whereas I am more likely to find something really expensive that I like, mope over it forever, and then do one of three things: 1) Find a cheaper version; 2) Save up and buy the real thing; or 3) Put it out of my mind. That last rarely works, though, and I tend to go with one of the other two.

My mom's friends make fun of her for her addiction to bargain shopping. I'm not that bad, but I DO love when I make a good deal.