This week’s podcast is the final installment of the series with Megan Russell from Marotta Wealth Management regarding healthy spending. We began the series by identifying a core values budgeting strategy. Then we moved on to avoiding advertising in order to curb impulse buying. Our episode on waiting a week before making larger purchases really resonated with our audience as a great way to spend less. The last episode centered around buying worth and getting the most from what you’ve already spent.
Megan’s last theme for us involves some great advice for spending less. In particular, we talk about setting up spending alerts, performing an intentional review of those alerts, becoming conscious of your spending (especially the things that you are paying for automatically and on a regular basis), establishing a price book to make sure that frequent expenditures aren’t costing you more than they should, buying in bulk/wholesale/secondhand and finally returning things that don’t live up to your expectations. Let’s explore each tip in more detail:
Set up automatic alerts with your financial institution. This could be your credit card or bank card, whichever you most often use to pay for things. On your settings page, you can choose to be alerted to any purchase that exceeds $1. You read that correctly, one dollar. Worried about your inbox being inundated with spending alert emails? That’s the point.
Every spending alert email you receive will have a dollar amount included. Now it’s time to review all of those purchases. Did you realize you have the habit of ordering lunch every Wednesday? Maybe you find that you frequent the local coffee shop multiple times every weekend. You get charged every month for Netflix, Disney+, ESPN and Hulu. Did you even know that your entertainment spending was so high?
Now it’s time to think about your core values. Does grabbing a coffee on the weekends bring you joy? If the answer is yes, great. Keep doing that! Is lunch on Wednesdays simply because Tuesday evenings is your carpool night for kids’ basketball? Maybe you can start prepping two lunches on Monday night. Do you really watch programs on all those streaming services? Enough to warrant the $1k price tag for a year’s worth of subscriptions?
Now that you are conscious of your spending, are you sure it is consistent? Have you ever noticed that the same pack of diapers you buy every week is sometimes $12 and other times $18? You would if you kept a price book or use a free service like camelcamelcamel to track prices on Amazon. Next time those diapers are $12, buy more than one pack, which leads us to Megan’s next tip…
Buy in Bulk
This one is a well known way to spend less on items you use all the time that don’t have a short shelf life. Check the unit price on items. A bottle of 200 ibuprofen tablets might cost $15 and the bottle of 500 is $30 and you think “that’s double the price!” But the exact same pills will cost you $.09/each in the small bottle and $.06 in the larger container.
Did you finally buy that headset you had your eye on? You waited a week, you watched the pricing, you did research beyond the ad you saw on social media and now it has arrived but it pinches your ear. Return it. It didn’t meet your expectations. Send it back, get your $75 refund and start over again. Don’t let the $75 collect dust next to your computer.
Spending less is all about awareness. Use these tips to avoid that dreaded question “where did all my money go?”
Welcome to Financial Planning for Entrepreneurs and Tech Professionals I’m your host Mike Morton, and welcoming back to the show, we've gotten Megan Russell, who's basically becoming a co-host now on this show, it's fantastic love having her here. We've been having conversations around, aligning your spending with your values, making sure you got to customize budget, understanding what brings you the most joy when you're spending those core values, and what things you spend money on that maybe aren't bringing you a lot of joy, and how to be more aware of the trade offs. And then lots and lots of tips and tricks and strategies about focusing your spending on things that will bring you the most joy, getting rid of spending on things that aren't bringing you joy, so you can save more money for all those other things. So anyway, Megan, she's been working in finance most of her life. You guys know already she's the Chief Operating Officer at Marotta Wealth Management. She has written over hundreds and hundreds of articles all on marottaonmoney.com. Megan, welcome back.Megan:
Thanks so much for having me. It's always fun to get to talk about this series.Mike:
Yeah, you are an expert in this series. As we're having these conversations, I'm learning so much and soaking it up. And there's so many things that I recommend going back checking out the previous episodes, but also go to marottaonmoney.com and look at the articles, things that resonate with you today. Or in our previous episodes, there's gonna be a whole article on like, each of these sections, okay, they're linked in the show notes as well. But go and spend some time and something hits you like, oh, yeah, that thing on reusing the items that I already have? Or how do I figure out what's in the core of my budget? What should be at the core where I don't want to cut any spending go to marottaonmoney.com look up those articles. There are a wealth of information all by Megan.Megan:
Yay! Thank you!
Yeah. So last time, we talked about spending less on the edges. The idea being when your core is ‘I love dining out, stop telling me to stop spending money on that’. Don't tell me to stop spending money on that I'm turning the podcast off right now. Nope, we're not telling you to not spend money on things that bring you so much joy. Last episode was trying to at the edges of your budget where things aren't bringing as much joy, what can you do there to spend a little bit less. And today, what we're talking about is how to buy more value with what you do spend, and what does that mean buy more value with the things that you are spending.Megan:
So when you go out and you've decided you're going to spend money on something these are tips and tricks for how to actually capture the full amount. So you're spending $50, whatever $50 is worth to you, we're hoping that you get all of that value out of the thing that you're buying. And so there's a lot of what economists call deadweight loss, which is that you're spending $50, but you're only getting $40 of value. The $10 is the deadweight loss. That's what economists do. They write lots of papers about deadweight loss in the world. And there's a lot of things in our society that are pushing us towards wasting some of the money. So if you go back and you listen to the podcast on advertising, we had a whole session about how people are really encouraging you to waste some of that value. Yes, you did something. Yes, you did buy something. Yes, it did cost that much. But it wasn't that valuable to you. And so these are tips for how to get all of the value out of your money, or maybe even spending less on something than it was worth to you. It was worth $50 And you got it for $40. You created value when you bought it. And so those are the tips and tricks of today.Mike:
That's awesome. I love it. Wow, I can't wait to hear how to get more value out of things. But I love that advertising perspective. Yeah, you're getting basically tricked, you're getting advertised to and then you click the button to buy something and you're like, Yeah, I mean, I did sort of want that thing. That's why I clicked but you know, cost me fifty and I only really wanted to spend twenty bucks on that I really needed or wanted that mug. So we want to avoid that. And then also, as you were talking, I was thinking about our last episode about reusing things to get more value out of them as well. So you might have originally bought it for $20, that spatula and now you're going to repair it and keep using it even though it's a little burnt or whatever, and keep using it and get even more value out of it. So I'm excited to hear how we can do more of that. So where should we start?Megan:
I think a really good place to start is being aware of what you are spending. And so I have two tips on this matter. The first is that on everything that you use to spend so your bank account, your credit cards, anything like that, that where you're going to put some charges set up what's called a spending alert. And so you log on to that company like you're going to log on to your credit card and you go to something called like alert settings. Normally, sometimes it's under profile settings. And you are able to set that so you want if there's a spending a transaction over a certain dollar amount, you want to be notified, and you get to pick how you get notified. So I like to say, for any transaction over $1, I want it to email me. And what this does is, you're out at the grocery store, and you're buying your groceries. And you've know how much it cost because they like tell you at the end, but you're also like, I'm gonna hurry off and go get in my car, because my kids tired, and I need to go home and make dinner or whatever. And so you're like, only half aware of how much you're really even spending there. But then when you get home and you check your email, you'll get an email from the credit card company, it'll be normally moments after you've checked out, you'll have gotten an email that says, hey, that cost $100. That was $100 at the grocery store. And so it helps you just have a moment of like, I do know what I'm spending. And it works the same way if you have an automatic charge on the card. So let's say that you've automatically charged your Netflix subscription to the cart, you're gonna get an email every time that Netflix subscription is billed. And it's gonna say, Hey, here's your Netflix subscription, and it just get charged to your card. So even things that are automatic will become something that you're aware of. So I think it's a really good place to begin. It's also a really good fraud alert. So if anybody ever steals your card, and they go off, and they spend money with it, you're like, hold on a second, I did not spend that. So it's the best fraud alert protection I've ever found to but it helps you just be aware, be very conscious of how much money you're spending and where you're spending it.Mike:
All right, Megan, my heart rate is really going through the roof. Now I'm getting very nervous, because you said over $1, my inbox will just be like full every day, this is not gonna go well, for me, just thinking about that, oh, my goodness, maybe I ought to make that a little bit higher, but I do like the idea. You mentioned the awareness and we were talking about that before that just building an awareness on a variety of fronts, in terms of financial planning is so important. Understanding not only yourself, we talked about, we have offline conversations about building awareness about yourself and your patterns and personalities. But here we're talking specifically awareness on your budgeting. And I talked about that with my clients all the time. Okay, let's talk about your spending study. Like I really have no idea what I'm spending, okay, you know, it's a good exercise, let's look back three months, or if we can a whole year gather those statements and really understand what you have spent money on for the last three months or last twelve months, to build the awareness of where your money's actually going. And whenever I've done this exercise, to build that awareness of where your money is going, it's eye opening. And some of its in the sense of like, I can't believe I'm dining out so much, or I'm getting so many coffees or whatever. But some of that will be that's in your core, that's your joy. Don't stop getting the coffees when you go out from Starbucks or wherever, because you love that, you love going in and doing that. No, don't don't stop doing that. But then maybe say, jeez, my entertainment bill, I've got Netflix and HBO and Disney and Amazon Prime. And like, I'm not even watching half of these things. So by getting those alerts, building that awareness, we can really bring a lot value.Megan:
I love the alerts of the system, because it makes spending uncomfortable, because you do get a lot of stuff. But it's not inconvenient. There's no barrier to entry. It's not like you have to insert a passcode or something to get to your money it's the same ease to spend. It's just that it's a little uncomfortable, because then you get the emails and you're like, I didn't realize I bought six things today. And I didn't realize that they cost that much or I didn't realize that when it was late and I was sleepy I ordered that thing on Amazon that I wanted, but I didn't need and you can also start picking up on patterns and ways that you can save money there. So I just think the spending alert, it's just such a little basic way that you can get more value out of what you're spending, you can recognize the deadweight loss easier to because you've ordered something and you didn't even realize it costs $50.Mike:
Right, exactly. All right, here we go, I'm gonna do this Megan, today, I'm gonna go and put a $1 alert. I'm gonna actually do this, but a $1 alert on my couple of credit cards. I think I only use one really every day. So I'm going to do that and start getting inundated. So here's gonna be my question to you. And I will also report back, does it get overwhelmed? Like of course I can understand for initially, for the first couple of weeks, I'm going to feel like I'm building a lot of awareness. Oh my god, I can't believe I was spending here in here and maybe I'll cut back on some things and that'll be great and understand where I'm spending money. But then does it also get to a point where it just gets overwhelming after a month or two do you ever find man now I'm just deleting all the emails because it's just busy and I've already done that thing.Megan:
At least for me, it doesn't ever get mundane because I definitely have the habit of I make sure that I read the dollar amount. So even if I don't read anything else, I want to read what the dollar amount was, so that I know how much was coming out. So that's my ritual. And I try to remember what it was because sometimes it's like Amazon $25.41, Amazon $31.32. And it's like, I actually have no idea what this was. So I try to at least remember what I've bought, when I'm looking at the email. And that's my ritual, I just look at it. I try to remember what it was. And I consciously associate basically the cost of the thing that I bought with the thing that I've bought.Mike:
I love that I've got two things, I need to implement that I promised to implement and report back this being one, which I'll do today. And then from our previous episode, I still haven't done I'm sorry to report like my terrible clients. No, my clients always do their things they always do their tasks are so great. I haven’t yet finished writing down all my categories to find my core done the core yet haven't done the core exercise. So I definitely have to I know it's on my list. I think about it every week, to be honest. So I'm going to find a time to do at least both of those.Megan:
Spending alerts is a way you can cheat your way and deserting your core budgeting too, because you can literally look at all the things that you're spending. And when it comes down, you can be like, is that the core? What if I didn't buy that would I've been okay?Mike:
Oh, I like that. And also actually, then I can write them down, I have a digital list. So I can start my list. You told me I need at least like 50 or 100 things. So I didn't… No she didn't say that. She didn't say that. But more than 10. So I'll start that list as well. All right. So that's great. Set up the alerts, Megan, what else we got?Megan:
Okay, so once you've set up the alerts, it will help you figure out where some of your automatic spending is. So automatic spending might literally be automatic, like you've got an automatic withdrawal, you've got a subscription service, something like that. It'll also help you figure out your habitual spending. So things that like you're not totally making that decision, you're just kind of, you're finding your way into it, you’re always getting tired on Wednesdays, when you're at the office, and you're buying food from the restaurant that's really close by and it's not really the food that you want to be buying it's just convenient, you're gonna figure out those habitual spending and it's good to make yourself aware of it as possible. Again, the goal here is a little bit to make spending that you don't want to be doing uncomfortable, because if it's too comfortable, it's just going to be really easy to spend money in places you don't want to. So if you do it, and you're like, this is so uncomfortable. You're doing it right. And so it's okay to have your core be comfortable. So if it's you've got two cards, maybe and one of them, you don't set up all the alerts on and you only use it for that thing that's at your core. Maybe you do something like that. Or maybe you just get happy when you read the email. So you try to intentionally be like, yeah, but you want to make that extra stuff uncomfortable.Mike:
Yep, no, I love that and making it uncomfortable. And then also, you mentioned they’re being conscious about that spending. So my Wednesday's just kind of tired, I just ease right down from the office, although no one's in the office anymore these days. But being conscious about what you're doing, it's what we say in financial planning all the time, be intentional about your plan. Be intentional about how you're spending your time and energy, be intentional about crafting a plan, stepping through that plan, making adjustments as you go. But all with the concept of you're consciously making those choices and being intentional. So here's another example. Just be intentional about your spending so that you understand you recognize it and it doesn't just like day by day just slip past you.Megan:
And once you're getting all those emails and you're seeing all of your spending, an important thing to keep in mind is that the frequency of your spending actually matters more than the height. And so the first thing people normally do is they're like, ah, my groceries or like maybe groceries are a great example. But like I ate out one time, and it was super expensive. And I just shouldn't eat out. Even if it's at your core, you might think I just shouldn't eat out because it was like $100. And is it really worth $100. And you can think down that line. But at the same time, the $100 one time isn't going to be as bad as the $50 every month that you're spending on some subscription service that you don't really value. And so the $50 might sneak under your radar. And you might be like that's just $50 or that's just $20, but $50 every single month or $20 every single month actually ends up being a lot more money in the year than that one time frivolous thing that brought you so much joy that was really expensive. And so this is just a problem that humans have. There was a book that came out a long time ago that was called Mindless Eating and it gave a bunch of examples of ways that we get tricked like our eyes trick us and we ended up eating more food than we want to. And in the study, they have two different size glasses one is really tall, and the other one is wide and flat, and the wide and shorter one, people would drink more out of it, and the one that's really tall, they would drink less. And the only way that they would not do that, like you could tell them, hey, they have the same amount, they'll still drink more out of the short one. The only way you could not do that was if you were actually proved to them by pouring in front of them, so that they could visually see it. And then they would feel so weirded out by the trickery that they wouldn't drink as much. So I'm going to try to do that for everybody on this podcast, I'm pouring the liquid for you guys. Like one $500 purchase is not as bad as $50 a month, do the math, do the multiplication, prove it to yourself, because it is a big deal, that frequency, that drip of a whole bunch of small expenditures, is going to add up to so much more than one time of going for a big budget item.Mike:
Alright, so Megan, you're telling me if I want to drink less champagne, put it in the tall flute glass versus the wide champagne glass, right? That visual, that's amazing. And it's amazing that they had to actually pour in one to the other. But you know, this is why we've had the rise of all these automatic expenditures, subscription fees. Now, on the good side, it reminds me I work with a nonprofit where we're trying to implement subscription fees instead of a one time annual fee, we'll just sign up and it'll automatically come out every year, is it to keep them as members. So that might be a good example, because people lose track of their membership. And so that would be great.Megan:
Put the price alert on and then you won't lose it. That's right.Mike:
But is that why we've seen the rise of all these subscription fees? Oh, just five bucks a month? Oh, just twelve bucks a month? Right?Megan:
I'm sure it's one of the reasons. Yeah, and it's also why sometimes they'll even state an annual cost and monthly dollar amounts. We're gonna bill you one time. But let's just make clear here how much it is every month? Because if you looked at that annual one, you'd say I don't know that's worth it. But when you look at the monthly one, you think actually, maybe that is worth it. Even though the math is the same.Mike:
It's the same, I know it's so interesting, all these the behavioral side of things and the anchoring, because I'm just imagining like cups of coffee or lunch or something, that's what you're comparing, when you see a monthly thing, you're just oh, that's only just a little more than a coffee or it's one lunch out, like it's not a big deal. Or to go out once a month… Jeez, it's still 500 bucks for a year or something like that. It really adds up. So good. We've got alerts coming in, so we'll be more aware of that frequency. But then also, like you said, other things that you tend to do over time, oh, yeah, just go out to lunch once a week or twice a week or whatever it is, hey, not a big deal. I'm still getting my coffees, when I go out brings me so much joy, but other things where I'm doing them more frequently? Yeah, I got to revisit that and maybe take a look at it. So that's a really good tip.Megan:
And those alerts will just surely give you a way to revisit it. That's the nice thing about it is that as they're coming in, you're just going to be able to say, did I really want that for that dollar amount? And cultivating that ability to know how much something is worth for you in dollars is a really important tool to have in life. And so whatever mental accounting you need to do to be able to make that conversion, is it how many hours it would take you to earn it back? Maybe some people use that if you know your hourly rate, you can be like, okay, how much would it take for me to earn $50 back? How much would it take for me to earn this whole year? Or maybe some people can do it in other things they can buy. So again, if like running shoes are at your core, how many running shoes is this costing? How many running shoes could you have bought if you hadn't bought this? And so you can sometimes do it off of a conversion at your core budget. This is one of my friends things but compared to my core, I don't know if I really want it for that. With my daughter that's how we do it. We talked about it and how many Barbies she could have bought. So this is five Barbie dolls. Do you want it that much? Right? It helps get in context that impulse balloon at the grocery store.Mike:
Yeah. And also just love what you said about just understanding how much things cost, which is where we started and the value of brings you okay, that $50 thing and you see it come through the screen maybe a couple of weeks in a row. Was it really bringing you $50 of joy each time. So really good. All right, Megan, what else we got the alerts, we've got building awareness, we've got being conscious about spending, what else we got.Megan:
So hopefully now you're really aware of how much you are spending and where you're spending it and whether it's in your core or not in your core. And so the last couple of tips I have here are on when you're actually making the choice to buy it so it's back on the like buying end of things. One of my recommendations is that you keep a price book so a price book doesn't have to be like a physical book, it can be like a notepad file on your computer, it could be a notes on your phone, like, it doesn't have to be that sophisticated. But when you buy something, and you're going to buy it again, so it's a frequent purchase, like maybe it's like shampoo, if you have an expensive shampoo, or maybe it's like something really nice, I know some people who use their price book frequently for like wine or something like that something that's it's maybe a bigger ticket item, but you do buy it on some regular basis. And so you write down the price that you got it for, the place you bought it from and the name of the product. And that's it. And the goal here is to make it hard for vendors to take advantage of you. And so when you're buying something like for example, I used to be a really frequent purchaser of diapers for my daughter, and diapers, the price actually moves a surprising amount. Sometimes it'll be lower, sometimes it'll be higher, the price just moves around. And when I kept a price book, I was able to tell whether my primary source, the place that I had figured out had the best rate was currently giving me a bad rate. Because if I knew, okay, the quantity of diapers I'm buying, it should be about $20. And they're listing for $35. That's not the best price probably, and I should look somewhere else this time to buy those diapers from. And so the goal is just to know what is a bad price, what is a good price. The goal isn't necessarily to get the best price. That's the first time you buy something, search around comparison shop, find the best place, okay, and then just assume that's the best price in your price book. And now if it deviates from that, you probably could still get it for the best price. If you look somewhere else.Mike:
That is a great idea around keeping a price book to just keep track of what things cost over time, reminded me a couple of things one I do with wine. So my head went there like, oh, what am I paying for wine and keeping track, so I need to do a better job there anyway. But the other tip I have for the listeners is a service called camel, camel, camel. That's right, three camels in a row. And what it'll do is it'll track Amazon prices, the historic Amazon prices. So you put in the URL for a product that's up on Amazon. And it's tracked the price of that product over the last say year. And so you can see it going up and down. It's fantastic. It's so cool.Megan:
Is it a free service?Mike:
Yep, it’ll even send you alerts. So if there's something you're looking for, and you're like jeez this things expensive, I don't want to buy it for this. I was looking at robot vacuums, I don't want to buy it for 500 bucks, but I might spend in the 400’s if it's on sale or something. You can put an alert in there. You can look backwards be like, Oh, it was $400 like a few months ago. These things fluctuate like crazy. It's unbelievable. And they go down for just a few weeks. And then like right back up. So you can set up alerts anyway. Camel, camel, camel, I’ve used that for a while.Megan:
That's great. Yeah, then you can automate your price book if you're doing Amazon.Mike:
Yeah, yeah, exactly.Megan:
You could also use it to look back and see what Amazon's best prices and assume that you can get it somewhere else. Even if Amazon doesn't have that price currently, one of the tips that I have here is that a lot of times you can go to the source of the person who's actually selling it. And sometimes you can find a better price there, especially in things that you could buy in bulk. So often, what happens is the original seller will sell it in bulk. So they've got like a 12 case of something a 12 case of wine. And while it's a lot of wine, you can buy it all in one big quantity. And there's people who don't want to buy that much, they don't want to store that much. And so then what happens is Amazon resellers will split up the pack, they're going to buy in bulk, and then they split up the pack and they resell it in smaller quantities with a surcharge. And if you are willing to buy in bulk, you go back to the source, you buy it in bulk, you can save a lot of money by just having gone to the original manufacturer.Mike:
Yeah, or get some friends together, buy it in bulk and split it up. So this always reminds me actually, you know, my kids in elementary school, they come up with this list, you have to go and buy like supplies to send to the school. And all the kids in my the elementary school, there's maybe a few hundred kids in each grade. And they each have to buy like a pack of pencils, a pack of crayons, a pack of five glue sticks. They come in threes and sixes but we had to buy five glue sticks. And I'm like why don't you just centralize and buy like just everyone which is 30 bucks. Just buy all of it and you get it for way cheaper. They're finally doing that this year.Megan:
Oh, good. I'm so glad that you were able to change that!Mike:
Well, it wasn't me that changed truth be told. But I did get an email like hey, it was actually a survey would you rather that we just buy in bulk? Like hello. Yeah, that would be fantastic.Megan:
No glue sticks come in like packs of 100.Mike:
This always cracks me up. And I didn't really think about it, though, in terms of going to the source for certain products as well, because I've often found, I've tried that now and then but one, it was always hard to beat the shipping because you get the Amazon Prime and like free shipping, right?Megan:
Sometimes you have to buy $50 to get this free shipping. And then you're like, do I want $50 worth? Yeah, it can be.Mike:
Yeah, yeah, but a lot of the sites have gotten the free shipping, it used to be it wasn't even possible, right? Like, you're going straight to the source, a lot of them didn't have enough volume to get the free shipping from the shipping companies. So that was an issue in the past, but it's probably a good idea. If you need this thing, if you're gonna buy it frequently. Getting back to the frequency, maybe you can store up a little bit of it, go into the source and just double checking those prices.Megan:
Great idea, right? Yeah. And also, sometimes you can find if secondhand is good enough, you can go to eBay, or there's a website called thrift books, which has books normally for better prices. So you can go to some of these secondhand places to see if you can find it there. And eBay is almost always cheaper than Amazon. So if you're willing to have a second, a second hand, it's a secondhand toy or it's a secondhand book. If you're willing to have your pages a little dog eared or the doll's hair isn't in pristine condition, you can normally get something better on eBay. So our favorite eBay fines have been things like Duplos, we like Duplos in my house, and you can buy them by the pound on eBay. So it's not just like this one little box, it's by the pound. And so how many pounds of Duplos would you like? And normally, it's the same price as one little tiny box.Mike:
Yeah, no, I love that tip. Actually, I need to go to eBay more because not only for like, slightly used, but brand new stuff, right? You get brand new stuff on eBay and it's way cheaper. I don't know where they find the stuff that's new in some warehouses that didn't sell its three months ago is product because all the products change every few months. So it's low. It's not the 5.0 version. It's the 4.5 version. That's two months old, and it's half the price.Megan:
And a lot of Goodwill's sell on eBay, and on Amazon they're best things. And so when you go actually into the Goodwill store, you're like, I don't know why there just seems to be nothing here. But what's really there is the things that they can't ship very easily. Most of the things that they can ship really easily they're selling on Amazon or on eBay. And so you can find really good goodwill finds a lot of times and when you look at who the seller is, it'll be like some really small town goodwill and you're like that's amazing that they ended up with this item.Mike:
Yeah, my wife loves looking at antique store secondhand stores, and there's brand new clothing or like it's worn three times looks brand new and a third of the price it's unbelievable. Speaking of saving money, new clothes are like crazy. So anyway, we're a little bit off topic here but go to the source for that. And we've given you a couple things, also just on that topic, Craigslist, use that for secondhand stuff all the time as well we do a lot of skiing getting all that skiing gear used. It was used for one season and it's half the price. And then you go and resell it like the delta is not even that much comes the kids have outgrown it, go and sell it again, like we talked about in our last episode, we've got the getting the alerts, building the awareness, being conscious about what you're doing, getting up getting a price book for certain items that you go and then going straight to the source. And they can any other tips or tricks that we can be using for getting more value.Megan:
Yeah, so I think my last one for this episode is that I think you should be very fast to return things. So we've gone through a very long journey of spending theoretically, to have gotten to the point of getting an item, we added it to our wish list. We were thinking about it for a week, we purchased it, we avoided all the ads, we were watching its price, we were picking the right moment, we finally bought it, we got the alert, we think we're going to really love it. And then we open up the box. And it is not what you wanted. It doesn't totally fit it. In fact, maybe even it's just like you bought it for $50 but you're really only getting less, you're getting $30-$40 of value. And then you're disappointed. You've gone through this whole process and you've gotten this thing that it did not live up to your expectations. And at this point, statistics say that most people keep the item. And I want to encourage you not to keep it. I want to encourage you that if you don't like it, and it didn't live up to your expectations, you return it. Because money that you earn from returning items is as good as money that you earned initially. So shouldn't keep it if you don't want it if you wouldn't have bought it for that price. Now that you know what it is you shouldn't keep it and the longer it sits in your house, the more it's going to start to feel like yours. And then you're gonna go into the fallacy that happens the behavioral finance problem that's called the endowment effect, which is oh, but this one's mine. So it's better. It's not better. You had other options that you could have bought, and you didn't buy them because you thought thought this one was going to be better. It's not better, you should return it and get the one that actually will fit what you want.Mike:
Yeah, so great. You walked us through all the things to get to this point. And I'm thinking that I'm definitely keeping this oh, you know, there's no chance of returning this, it took me so long to get here. But I've had that feeling, Megan, when you open the envelope or the box, and you're super excited, because it took so long to get here, and then you're like, oh, it doesn't fit. Like, it's good. But you said the word like and I would turn that into the word love. By the time that thing shows up you should put it on, open it up, whatever the thing, the item is, and you should love it and be like, yes. And then to your first point getting more value, it cost you $50. But man, this thing is worth 100 bucks, you just love it. And if you have that feeling like it's good, then you should just return it. And you should fall in love with the things that are there because we're going to be owning them for a long time taking care of repairing them, using them for their lifespan and giving them all the fun out of it. And also passing it on when it's bringing us value passing it to someone else. So you got to really love that.Megan:
I like to look at everything that I've just bought with kind of a mischievous side, I do I really want you here, I don't know, I try not to put them into my house right away, you unpack it, and you just look at it, and you're like, are you gonna stay here I can't decide. So it's kind of like your final chance to make a decision on buying in this day and age. With so much shopping being online, it can be really hard to get it right, the advertising, even on the product page is very strong, and it's encouraging you to get it. And we've had to teach my daughter about advertising. And it's always really funny when we all think it's gonna be a great toy. And it looks really amazing. And then it arrives and we're like, it's not as big as they implied that it was it's not as shiny as they imply that it was the stitching or the plastic molding isn't as good as it looked like in the picture. There's so many reasons why the thing that you got, might not be the thing that you want to keep. And I think there should be no shame in using a return policy, that these websites have them. They're actually because they found that having a return policy encourages more purchases. So because they have a return policy, you think, Oh, I'll buy it, I can always return it. And so more people buy it. And then they don't return it. It doesn't matter how much they don't like it, they don't return it. And even if you read Amazon reviews on a product that like almost everyone has not liked. Most of them have also not returned it. They talk about how and then I just had to donate it or and then I just had to trash it. It's like, why did you not send it back to Amazon. So send them back? It's super easy these days. Just I think even with Amazon now they don't even require a box or a label, you just walk into a shipping store or a Whole Foods and you're like here, take it back. And they do.Mike:
I love that. It's great. I've got a question for you on this topic actually returning things, because I've done shopping online. The product page, not on the selling. But sometimes it's just I'm not walking through the store for clothing or shoes or something where you can't just try it on to see how it's actually getting fit. So I've done this in the past, I'm curious your take where I will order two or three different items. I'm not sure if this is the shorts I want from this company, this one or this one. So ordered all three or I will order interior two different sizes. I'll order the shoes and three different sizes or the shirt and two different sizes. Then when they come on, package them carefully trying them on and then keep the one that I like, I don't know that I've ever returned all of them then like yeah, so is that something that you find helpful or useful? Or how do you view that?Megan:
I don't personally do that. Because I've found that when I have a bunch of options that I'm shopping that I've purchased, so they're at my house, and I've purchased them, and I'm effectively shopping those options, I'm more inclined to keep it because one of them is the best one. And I fall into the belief that this is the best one of the ones that I've ordered, it must be the best one, as opposed to if I had just bought one. And I was like I think this is the best one and then it comes in. It's not the best one. I'm more inclined to revisit my research and be like, yeah, so I tend not to do that. Because if I buy too many of them one of them's the best and then I keep it even if it doesn't live up to the price. It's for me to keep the price in mind if it's like I spent $150 but I'm only keeping one of them. I lose sight of what the price is and I stayed on like how much money I'm saving when I'm sending them all back.Michael Morton:
That's so good. It's so good. Even for me I love to shop I love to do all that stuff comparison and all these things. But I love the way you said that because I can definitely do it as well and say, I think this is the one I want. And when it arrives, like I just want to unbox it. And if I'm not in love and it fits perfect. It's just the thing I thought it was going to be. It's working really well. If it's not that, then box it back up and send it back and do the wait a week, start again, avoid the advertising and all that and try to find that perfect product because like you said, why do you have websites that give you option A, B, or C? Like most people most popular, most people choose this one. Because now you're anchoring, you're not going to choose the most expensive, but you're not cheap, you're not gonna choose the least expensive, you gotta choose that right. And so when you have those options, you're going to naturally purchase, click buy or keep it here in the house, versus just having one and saying is this the best one for what I was looking for.Megan:
Last year, I wrote an article about the concept of being really quick to return things. And as a part of the article, I went back and I looked at all of my Amazon returns, because that's where I do a lot of my shopping. And I looked back to see what the dollar amount was that I got refunded to me from returns, because it's as good as any money in my mind. So it looked like when I looked back over it, I'd saved $300 from having just returned things. And so it's not a small amount of money, but it's not a big amount of money either. But the diligence of returning things, I think will serve everybody well.Michael Morton:
Yeah, I think it just reinforces all the concepts we've been talking about. And of course, we have practical tips and tricks, right? The wish list, the price books, the exercises, we've talked about, that you can go through all of those. But a lot of it too is the awareness and mentality. And if you grew up with one mentality, you can always change that. And then these are ways to start heading in the direction that you are interested in going in or doing a better job, whether it's getting the things that you're totally in love with whether it's paring down, whether it's being more diligent, like whatever it is that you're interested in doing, the mental process that these strategies will help you with is going to be as equally as important.Megan:
It helps you unplug from mindless spending, so that you can plug into mindful spending and mindless saving. We want the default to be we're going to save for what really matters. And then you're going to make the choices. This is the moment that it matters. I'm going to spend here, because this is the moment that it matters.Mike:
As always, Megan, thank you for everything, go to marottaonmoney.com for just more in depth on all these topics. We'll link to that in the show notes. Thanks for being here.Megan:
Thank you so much. Thanks forMike:
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