Store price vs. online price

I consider myself a fairly savvy shopper, but I was unaware of the possible price difference between an item in-store vs. online. I figured if it was the same store, the price should be the same regardless if I ordered it online or purchased it at the store. Wow, was I in for a surprise!

I’ve been shopping for a replacement patio umbrella for a week. I’d forgotten that our last one had been destroyed by the wind at the end of last summer. We have open fields on the south and west side of our property and our strongest winds come from the southwest. We’ve lost countless umbrellas, at least one glass table and a barbeque (yep, rolled right off the deck!) to those strong gusts. The last umbrella had lasted longer than the others because I learned to close it when we weren’t using it. However, I left it open because I was babysitting my granddaughter who was about three months old at the time, and she very suddenly needed something, so I took care of her and thought I’d close the umbrella later.

I heard an awful sound and looked out the window to see the umbrella turned inside out and dragging our table along the patio. Oh, well! I can always buy another umbrella and table, but I won’t always have the opportunity to spend time with my granddaughter.

I’d forgotten all about the need for a new umbrella until we finally got the table (yes, it survived the dragging!), chairs and cushions cleaned and ready for use. Oh, right, no umbrella. So I started looking around our small town for one, but everywhere I went they were sold out. Before wasting my time and fuel driving to a larger town to check the stores there, I went online to see if I could determine whether anyone still had patio umbrellas this late in the season.

I scored at! The closest store had “limited quantity” in the color I wanted for $69.30. I called the store and asked if they’d set one aside for me. They agreed to hold one at customer service for the day and told me the price was $99. What?! That’s nearly a $30 difference! I asked if they’d match the online price, and fortunately they did. However, if I hadn’t checked online and just gone to the store, I would have paid 30 percent more unnecessarily.

The lesson learned is to check online before going to the store, and always, always, always close the umbrella when not in use!

My shopping finesse level:
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Shopping frugally with finesse

I was asked recently if I was a tightwad. I tend to think a tightwad is a miserly person, holding onto their money with an iron fits. That’s not me – just ask my husband! I’ a very generous person, but also very frugal, and that’s why I LOVE Thredup. (I blogged about my first shopping experience earlier this year)

thredupThredup is an online children’s consignment site (they’ve recently added women’s clothing, as well). You can shop by size, item, brand and condition, and the selection is HUGE! On my first visit to the site, I had more than $300 worth of clothing in my cart. All the items were new with tag (new, never worn item) and so cute, but I had to do some serious editing.  There was no way I could convince my husband I needed to buy that much, even if I was saving a ton of money!

Their everyday prices are great, so when I got an email announcing their semi-annual sale, I had to see what was available. As providence would have it, my granddaughters have birthdays within a few weeks, so the hunt was on for gifts!

I found a LOT of nice things, so I had to edit my cart before checking out (that’s par for the course!), but the end result is some pretty great bargains.

For my granddaughter, who will be two in July, I ordered the following:thredup_2

Gymboree pink jumper (original price $36.95/Thredup price $11.99)
Kobe purple sweater (original price $28/Thredup price $4.99)
Gymboree denim skirt (original price $25/Thredup price $4.99)
Hartstrings cream-colored sweater (original price $64.95/Thredup price $4.99)

For my granddaughter, who will celebrate her FIRST birthday, I ordered the following:


OshKosh B’gosh pink winter jacket (original price $60/Thredup price $11.49
Hello Kitty pink fleece jacket (original price $26/Thredup price $4.99)
Disney pullover hoodie (original price $32/Thredup price $4.99)
Carter’s polka-dot leggings (original price $12/Thredup price $3.49)

I purchased $284.90 worth of new kids clothing for a grand total of $51.92 for a savings of more than 80 percent! AND, the shipping was free because I spent more than $50. That beats thrift stores any day of the week! I also saved on fuel since all the shopping was done from the comfort of my couch.

If you’ve never shopped Thredup, use this link to get a $10 credit on your first purchase. In the interest of full disclosure, I receive a $10 credit on my future purchases for each referral, but I’d share the information regardless. I love shopping for the grandbabies, and even more when I can spend the same amount and get so much more! Now that’s shopping with *finesse!!

My shopping finesse level:
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your shopping finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

How I saved nearly $250

I’ve wanted to purchase new bedding for our master bedroom for several years, but wasn’t quite sure what I wanted. Needing inspiration, I began purchasing accessories I loved and finally hit upon a direction about a year ago (see my pinterest board).

I envisioned a light blue comforter with pintucks. I thought I’d just plug “blue comforter pintucks” into Google and voila, a page would pop up showing exactly what I wanted. Not exactly…

beddingSome items came close, but no winners, until I saw a special advertised on The bedding set at Kohl’s was almost exactly what I’d imagined, and it was on sale. Additionally, I could save 20 percent on top of that with the code offered.

I wanted to save even more, so I went to to see if I could score a discounted Kohl’s gift card. Giftcardgranny shows all discounted gift cards (physical and electronic) available through various gift card resellers. I like using them because there’s a level of credibility if a reseller is listed on their site (I always check the web to see if there’s anything negative with a reseller before I purchase from them for the first time). I can also compare the discounts between multiple resellers.

I found an electronic Kohl’s gift card discounted by 10 percent. Its value was $143.21, which was about $25 shy of purchase price. I choose to get as close to the amount I need without going over so I use the entire amount of the card. I paid $128.88 for the card. It took 24 hours for the electronic gift card to land in my e-mail box, so I had to wait to place my order, but this was certainly faster than waiting for a physical card to be mailed.

Here’s the breakdown of my savings. The 16-piece comforter set, which includes comforter, bedskirt, 2 shams, 2 Euro shams, 2 fitted sheets, 2 flat sheets, 4 pillowcases, oblong decorative pillow & square decorative pillow, was listed at $399.99. It was on sale for $209.99 for a savings of $190. I had a code from Bradsdeals for 20 percent off, for a savings of $42, lowering the price to $167.99. I used the electronic gift card valued at $143.21, purchased at a 10 percent discount of $128.88. The balance between $167.99 and the gift card was $24.78, which went on my VISA card. The sale saved me $190, the 20 percent saved me $42 and the discounted gift card saved me $14.33 for a total savings of $246.33 or slightly more than 60 percent. Yep, that’s *finesse!

I can’t wait for the bedding to arrive and continue remaking our master bedroom into the soothing retreat I’ve always imagined.

Have you saved 60 percent or more? How did you do it?

My shopping *finesse level:  Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your shopping finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

ThredUP worth a look up

I really enjoy shopping for my granddaughters. Kids’ clothes and toys are just so darn cute! However, since my funds are finite, I need to be wise and stretch my dollars as far as possible. I’ve written about my love of thrift store shopping, but kids are hard on their clothes and toys, so finding items in great shape can be difficult.

moneysavingmomI was reading through a post on and learned of a children’s clothing consignment site called ThredUp. I was encouraged to check it out because first time buyers were offered $10 off their purchase. They don’t offer clothing smaller than 12 month size, so that left out my youngest granddaughter (she’s so petite – she probably won’t be in 12 month size until she’s 18 months old!). However, they offered a great selection of clothes in my older granddaughter’s size, which was great because nice clothes in her size are very difficult to find in thrift stores.

They had SO many really cute items at great savings, so before I knew it, my total was $300! Needless to say, I had to do some serious cart editing, but I settled on two very cute name brand dresses that were new with tags still attached. My total with shipping was just a little more than $7. Now that’s shopping with finesse!thredup

I had the dresses shipped directly to my granddaughter since she lives out of state. My daughter called when the box arrived and she was so pleased. She was already making plans for pictures of my granddaughter in one of the dresses. I’m definitely going to shop ThredUp again!

If you’ve found ways to purchase nice clothes for kids inexpensively, I’d love your feedback!

My inexpensive shopping *finesse level:  Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your inexpensive shopping finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Patience rewarded


From a practical point of view, Corelle ware is great – nearly unbreakable. It will outlast the popularity of its pattern by decades! The majority of the Woodland pattern set we purchased 34 years ago served through every meal and holiday dinner, endured two children and a million trips through the dishwasher. It was still in great shape, but over time, I came to hate the sight of the brown leaves that circled every plate, bowl and cup.

It was time (way past time according to my kids) to replace the dishes. I looked at purchasing china and fell in love with the White Palace pattern by Noritake. However, I was blown away by the price and couldn’t justify the expense. China’s not really practical for every day, anyway, right?

corelle_whtInstead I chose to replace the old Corelle with new Corelle (guess I’m not very adventurous). Knowing this stuff will probably survive any natural disaster, I opted for the Enhancements pattern, which is basic white with a little swirl detail. I figured basic white wouldn’t become dated over time.

I found a loving home for the old Corelle and happily began using the new Corelle. I was just fine using the new dishes day in and day out, but when special occasions rolled around, I still secretly wished for the Noritake White Palace china to grace my table.

allthetrimmingsI found contentment in my growing collection of Christmas china I found at thrift stores. I was hoping to find Noritake White Palace china, but in all my exploration, I didn’t find a single piece. Even on eBay the price for the china was more than I was willing to spend. It’s important to note that the husband would have no problem with me purchasing china, even at retail prices. I was the one who was unwilling to pay that amount for something we’d only use a few times a year. So, I sort of gave up on the idea except for the occasional eBay search.

A week after Christmas I was doing a little eBay shopping and decided to do another search for Noritake White Palace china. What the heck, right? To my surprise, a 53-piece set including nine five-piece place settings was available for about one third the price of retail! Some pieces were described as gently used, however some pieces were new with price tags attached.  Oh, happy day!

noritakeI watched the item for a few days. No one bid. I waited until the auction had about 12 hours left then placed my bid at the starting price. I wanted the china, but I already decided that I wouldn’t increase my bid if someone bid higher. I held my breath (figuratively) and when the auction was over, the china was mine!

It arrived within a week and it is beautiful! I’m glad I exercised a little patience and waited for a price that allows me to enjoy using it even more.  And that my friends, is *finesse!

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Low effort coupon savings

I’m not a type A personality, so it’s safe to say I would not compete on Extreme Couponing. However, I was quite excited about saving $25.09 using coupons and store loyalty coupons this week. My total was $94.11 and my take home included family packs of rib-eye steaks and pork chops, and three fryers. Not bad! I want to stress that the savings was not the result of hours spent cutting and organizing coupons or even having a strategy on the scale of the D-Day Invasion.

In my opinion, coupons are a tool. The husband has a LOT of tools, but I don’t use them. They don’t fit my needs (and to be honest, he’s a little fussy about his tools). I have a set of tools that are perfect for my size hands and for just about any job I might tackle (basically, I keep the drawer pulls and cabinet knobs tightened, but I do it with *finesse!). I view coupons in the same manner. I only clip those that are perfect for me and that I’ll use. Even if I use a particular product, I won’t cut a coupon if the expiration date is too early and I already have plenty of that product in the pantry. There will be another coupon for that product in a month or two. Because I don’t clip a lot of coupons, there’s really no need to organize them. I stash them in a pocket of my purse and go through them as I plan my grocery list.

I was resistant to store loyalty cards in the beginning. I didn’t like the idea of a store tracking my purchases. However, I succumbed due to the fuel incentives offered, which are very generous at Safeway! While we take advantage of the fuel discounts at Fred Meyer, I am more impressed with their quarterly rebates and extra savings coupons. Those coupons and rebate were responsible for nearly $15 of my weekly savings.

The remaining $10.09 saved through the use of manufacturers coupons was accomplished in about 20 minutes. if you count the weekly clipping and reviewing. Is my time worth $30.27 an hour? Yes, I believe it is!

 My coupon finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your coupon finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

The old bag’s got to go

Last week I flew to Phoenix to attend the ordination of my son, who is a minister. For various reasons, this was a “fly in on Monday – fly out on Wednesday” trip. No need to check luggage, as a carry-on should hold everything needed for two days and nights. I discovered that whether a carry-on is sufficient for that purpose really depends on the bag.

I’m a fairly adept at packing, but everything I wanted to take simply would not fit into the duffle bag I was using. I changed strategy and began placing some of my items in my husband’s bag. He was flying in a day behind me, so required fewer items and is generally a jeans and T-shirt kind of guy. Even placing some items in his duffle bag didn’t fix my space problem. My mother was traveling with me, so I asked if she had extra room. A few items shifted to her suitcase still left my bag bulging. I decided I could take one less pair of sandals, and exchange the blouse I was wearing over my tank top for the packed jean jacket. The bag was no longer bulging, but heavy.

As I watched people zip through the concourse pulling their carry-on luggage behind them, I kept telling myself that lugging the bag was building arm muscles. Time to switch arms for an equal work out! I did NOT look like I was traveling with *finesse!

I have at least two more trips planned this year, so I began researching carry-on luggage when I returned home. I decided on the highly-rated 21-inchDelsey Helium Fusion Lite 2.0, which I just purchased on sale for $67.98 through Multiple reviews on numerous sites state it is light-weight, durable and holds a LOT, which is exactly what I need. Oh, and it comes in bright blue!

Next trip I’ll be zipping through the airport with ample room in my carry-on and looking like the epitome of finesse!

My travel finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert      

What’s your travel finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Eating well out of the clearance bin

I always check the meat department’s marked down/clearance bins, and about 25 percent of the time, find something to purchase. I’ve found specialty roasts all seasoned and ready for the oven at half price! These are the ones offered around the holidays that are really top quality. The last two years I’ve been able to score these for the annual holiday dinner we prepare for our mothers a few weeks before Christmas.

We love salmon, especially Copper River Salmon! Unfortunately, it can be pretty spendy – about $10 per pound on average. However, I know it’s not only delicious, but good for us, so I shell over the money. I was delighted to find wild-caught Sockeye Salmon fillets last week in the clearance bin for 50 percent off. I found two 1-pound packages and used one for dinner that evening and put the other in the freezer.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who sees value in the clearance bins. A recent post on the blog provided the following advice:

“Always check the clearance bin. Just because food is on clearance doesn’t mean it’s bad. Shopping for clearance merchandise doesn’t take long and can usually save you 50 percent or more. Foods that are on clearance are generally approaching their “sell by” date; they’re not already expired.”

Since these foods are close to their “sell by” date, be sure you use it quickly or throw it in the freezer. If you can’t and have to throw it out, it’s not a bargain.

I view it as a game – let’s see how well we can eat while spending the least amount possible. My son thinks I’m cheap, but I’m really rather generous. Saving money on groceries, or any other item allows me to spend more freely on the people I love and do more of the things I enjoy. And that, my friends, is living life with *finesse!

My thrifty finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert    

What’s your thrifty finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)