Oxymoronic Commandments

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If early retirement is a personal goal, then shopping probably can’t be your main hobby.

If the idea is to whittle away at that which is unimportant, in order to focus on that which is important, then buying a bunch of stuff that you don’t need for the sake of fleeting moments of entertainment, really needs to fall by the wayside.

But I’m hardly advocating for an ascetic lifestyle. You won’t find me walking around in shoes made of dental floss and milk cartons.

In other words, even someone with a healthy savings percentage needs to buy stuff frequently.

Which is one of the areas where the miles game and frugal living meld together seamlessly.

Here, then, are the 10 Commandments of frugal shopping.

1. There is no such thing as an impulse buy. If you are struck by the sudden urge to buy something, stop! Think about it. Are there alternatives to buying this thing?

2. If after some cooling off you decide that this in fact a need and not just a fleeting desire, do some research. You can save a lot of money with comparative pricing.

3. Seek out quality. Quality things last longer.

4. Find the best deal on the item you have selected. The Internet is a wonderful resource. Make yourself look at at least three sellers prior to making a purchase.

5. If you can put off making the purchase, do it. What is expensive today will often be cheap tomorrow.

6. Utilize slick deals alerts to inform you in the future when there’s a good price on your item of interest.


7. Do a Google search with “slick deals,” and the name of the item you’re interested in. This will give you a historical idea of what a good price on this item will be. So when a good deal pops up, you’ll be able to recognize it.

8. When you have found the item you want at the best price possible from a specific seller, now is the time to maximize points and miles from your purchase.

First search for the seller on a portal finder. This is a site that helps you find an internet shopping portal to go through, in order to maximize cashback or points with your purchase from a specific seller. Examples include:




9. Prior to purchasing the item consider which credit card will give you the most additional cashback points for purchases at that particular store. (Example: if you’re purchasing an iPad from Staples then the Chase ink preferred card would be excellent, giving an additional 5% back, minimum.

10. Consider purchasing gift cards. As an example if you’re going to purchase the item at Amazon.com, why not purchase an Amazon gift card at an office supply store? Now you get 5% cashback for the gift card purchase. Then use the gift card to go through the portal to Amazon.com and get your additional cash back.

11. Congratulate yourself on your thoughtful purchase. You probably just got 5 to 10% cashback on a good value product that is high-quality. If the purchase wasn’t worth all of those extra steps, you probably shouldn’t have made it in the first place!

So the central message here is this: Don’t buy something unless you need it and are confident that it will materially increase the quality of your life.

If you do believe that such an item exists, then exhibit patience and savvy to extract the most value out of your purchase.

Just as a 1% difference in yearly expense ratio on a portfolio can mean a 33% difference in portfolio size at the time of retirement 40 years in the future, so too can extracting 5% here and 3% there on all of your purchases yield big rewards over time (assuming you invest the rebates.)

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One Response to “Oxymoronic Commandments”

  1. Jennifer P October 28, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Going to share with husband. Thanks!

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