Thursday, October 2, 2014

Smart Women Do Not Pay Full Price-Getting Things for (Mostly) Much Less

Although I miss the fall leaves spectacle that was part of my life in Virginia, Colorado does have the most beautiful Aspen groves.  Catching the right weekend to see the trees in full color is always a crap shoot. This past weekend, we headed to the front range to see what we could find.  On the first part of our trip, it was easy to see that we were a weekend late. Orange and gold are interspersed with gray and brown. Still, we had a lovely time and the rest of the party hiked up the mountain while I attempted to take pictures in less than sunlight conditions. Rather than turn around, we made a circle, and found some better views just a bit south on the return trip (forewarned, these are taken by camera phone).  It was bumper to bumper much of the day, I think everyone in Colorado had the exact same idea. Aspens are connected underneath the ground, so when a tree dies, so goes the grove.

The first part of the title above was the motto of a local Connecticut retail store years ago, and is one I have taken to heart. Rather than the big box discount store of today, this store was a small Dress Barn style clothing and accessory store, one that had a nice ambiance, traditional clothing-and deep discount pricing.

In retirement especially, I have realized that in fact, I rarely spend "retail prices" for much of anything, and looking at my receipts for the past months, most of the time I spend much, much less than the average price.  My first motto is still " Free is best", but when things are not free, my goal is to see how cheaply I can get them.  This has become easier than one might think.

Now, when I say "cheap" I do not mean "junk".  As a rule I'm not likely to buy an eight dollar blouse at Walmart, eat mainly junk food, or buy something that will fall apart. And there are surely parts of my life where I have to pay full cost, up front.  Removal of the large tree branch felled by snow in the middle of my drive way and the street is a perfect example.  In the face of immediacy, I called around, got the person who could come the fastest and accepted life for what it was.

MOST of the time though, I am spending much less and getting much more in retirement. I allow two hundred dollars for monthly basic groceries for two single women and a six foot six college student for five days a week, and we eat well. The past two oil change/oil filter/tire rotations have been twenty dollars apiece. I recently got said gigantor student three quality long sleeved heavy t-shirts for less than twenty dollars. All done with very little of the traditional "coupon cutting" from the Sunday paper.

I was always able to wait for sales and find deals, but I seem to have taken this to a new level in retirement.  As a retiree with a lifetime of stuff, I have fewer immediate needs than when I was a young mom with working children, or a wife of a corporate guy who had to travel and entertain.  Many of my personal requirements are either "replacement" purchases than I can plan ahead for, or "wants" that are not necessarily immediate.

The best part of retirement, for me at least, has always been flexibility. I don't have to wait and shop on the weekends or evenings.  This means that I can unashamedly take advantage of "senior" days at places like the Clark shoes outlet.  And since my days are free I have time to explore and take advantage of discounts.  This doesn't mean that I spend my retirement days searching and coupon cutting, heaven knows.  It does mean that many days I spend some time checking emails from stores that I shop at or that my children go to (I have a separate email address), as well as keeping an eye on sales and options.

Tomorrow, I'm meeting with my quilting group. I plan to make quilted gift card sized bags with ribbon handles to sell, use myself for family and give as gifts. Pictures to follow.  Before I go, I'll have my coffee on the patio and take my morning walk (I used to walk in the evenings, but Colorado has decided to have Texas and Virginia style evening thunder showers). 

 I'll lunch at the Old Mill Brewery with a twenty five dollar gift certificate that I purchased for three dollars during a special deal. I've realized that it's time to break down and buy some heavy socks. I have a $5.00 of $25.00 coupon as well as a coupon for 30% off my clothing purchase. I'm going to try some knee high socks and see what I think.  I also need some craft items for my homeless women-they'll be decorating sugar cookies and their own pumpkins.  Michael's stores have all their Halloween decorations and embellishment at thirty percent off. I have a coupon for twenty percent off everything, even sale items.  At fifty five percent off, I can afford to donate to this important cause.

Dinner tomorrow is lemon oregano chicken in the slow cooker with huge drumsticks purchased at the loss leader price of 70 cents a pound (a family pack for now, and one put into the freezer). I need to take my next free Craftsy lesson on drawing with colored pencils, and I have a free book downloaded to my kindle.

Saturday morning, I have decided to break down and go see Gone Girl-although I can't imagine hating Ben Affleck as much as I hated his book character, and even knowing they may have changed the ending. I'll attend in the morning using my senior discount price, and use my earned movie rewards card to have movie popcorn and soda, even knowing I'll have to walk twice as long after I leave the theater. 

Getting stuff for much less in still only one part of a frugal retirement.  Much of my life style is still free or almost free-library books instead of purchased books, free concerts, free entrance to community theater through volunteering, Netflix or on Demand instead of movies, walking instead of a gym membership and more. But it's nice to know, especially as the holidays and then spring travel approaches, that full price can be a think of the past with a little bit of effort and some good timing.


  1. Barb, love the outdoor photos!
    As for buying products at the right price, we're not cheap.
    We're 'frugal smart'. That's the term I use!
    Let us know how the movie is. I may want to see it too!

  2. Getting something for free or as close to free as humanly possible gives a person such a rush. Wonderful post Barb.

    God bless.

  3. Spending less and getting more -- a great motto. Which is why we're going to see the matinee showing of Gone Girl. It's $7 instead of $10. And no $5 popcorn for me.

    1. You'll have to let me know what you think.

  4. I'd be very interested learning in how you feed 3 adults for $200 a month, and it sounds like you eat well. If you had to pick two or three things that you do to spend so little, what would they be?


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