Areas Where I Have Failed To Save Money

For nearly two years, I have been offering my thoughts on saving money. Sometimes, readers have liked my ideas. Other times, the response has been less enthusiastic. In either case, rest assured that a lot of thought went into the creation of each article. Despite all that thought, there are still a lot of purchases that I have not been able to make more economical. Whether it is just because I don’t have enough experience with a product or service, or it is just because some things cannot be purchased inexpensively, I don’t know. I hope that my readers may have had better luck than I have in getting deals in the following areas, and hope that you will share your experiences and ideas with me.

Sporting Equipment

I’ve looked around for deals on sporting goods but I have not found any deals that are truly too good to pass up other than the occasional steal at a yard sale. For example, at a community yard sale that a local church sponsored a few years ago, my elder son was able to get a full set of almost new golf clubs, and a nice golf bag, for two dollars. Other than that, we have been paying full price for sporting goods, subject to coupons and other generally available retail discounts. Where do you buy sporting goods?


My household does not use a lot of cosmetics but, in considering a possible column, I thought I might research costmetics bargains. I could not identify any reliable source for purchasing good quality costmetics at a discount. I like to think that my ignorance of the products is the reason but I am not entirely sure of that. How does one get deals on cosmetics?

Concert Tickets

I love music, especially live music. I do not love the huge cost of buying concert tickets. I have looked for ways to acquire discounted tickets but that does not seem possible. Indeed, the price of tickets only seems to rise. How do you find inexpensive ways to attend live music events?


Obviously, the price one pays for a car often becomes a matter of how well one haggles. I just never know what price I should be negotiating. Is there a way to truly know the value of a new vehicle – not the sticker price but the price that a dealer will take?

Lawn Care Services

I have used just about all of the local services and they are all just about the same price. Moreover, each service declines in quality after I have retained them for a few months. Short of taking care of my lawn on my own (something I want to avoid because I do not want the chemicals stored in my garage), how can one find a good value in lawn care?

What do you wish you could purchase less expensively? What do you think is overpriced? What advice would you offer relative to the questions I have posed?

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12 Responses to Areas Where I Have Failed To Save Money

  1. Lynn says:

    re: lawn care services. Take care of it yourself- skip the chemicals. Our neighbors (who all have lawn services) routinely ask what we do to keep our lawn looking so good. NOTHING! Leave the clippings on the lawn, and keep the mower set up high. Never cut more than 1/3. No chemicals, beautiful green and no money!

  2. MonkeyMama says:

    WE have a great lawn service, but that is VERY hard to find. Ask around and haggle. I am a haggler and I hadn’t thought to haggle the lawn service, but a friend highly recommended them and told me what she paid. I noticed the guy kind of put on a haggling posture and so did not just accept the price he quoted me. I just hadn’t thought of that beforehand. (Most of our neighbors pay twice as much for half the service – which is why I met with the guy in the first place – he was cheaper and highly recommended. We have utilized him for about 5 years now).

    As far as concert tickets, I do not know how to get discounted ones, but if you can score tickets to popular events, they are easy to sell. For a time, my dh would always buy extra concert tickets (in case friends wanted them) and would sell them for a profit. This may be a good way to whittle down your total cost, but it takes some guesswork to know what will be hot and what won’t. It can be hit and miss sometimes.

    If you want to save money on a car, buy used. I don’t see how you could get any decent discount on a new car (too much demand).

  3. Jessica says:

    As far as cosmetics go, the best I can suggest is to take advantage of the gift with purchase offers on items you would buy anyway. For example, Clinique in Macy’s does their free gift in April and October. I buy my foundation at those times, which means I always get some free mascara, moisturizer, a cosmetics bag (which I use for traveling), and a few other goodies. Whatever I don’t use from the sets I either use as stocking stuffers or group together and sell on ebay.

  4. Jo/GaelicWench says:

    As far as cosmetics at a “discount,” Avon always offers some truly great deals. Right now, if it’s alright to mention this, if you buy one Anew skin care product, you get the second one for only $10. Additionally, if you can combine that with Mr. Rebates, ebates, MyPoints, AND a cash back credit card (which gets paid off immediately), you can get significant discounts right there….

    Another area to shop and save on cosmetics is the three major drugstores. Combine the items on sale with in-store coupons, manufacturer’s coupons, a gift card from a past offer and the stores’ discount cards can rack up the savings. This is called stacking.

    Granted, I would love to pick up some skin care products, but I can’t afford it at the moment, no matter the discounts. It’s simply not an option. So, I will just save until I can do so.

  5. Gail says:

    Cosmetics I leave on the shelf, but if I did use them, I would do what the other poster mentioned and that is pick them up at a main stream drugstore using combinations of coupons, store specials and extra bucks (whatever the store calls them) to decrease their cost. I know this is a high cost area so I skip it entirely other than the ocassional nail polish but it also makes me feel better about the rare sewing machine purchase as I feel I saved enough on cosmetics to pay for the machine:)

    For live music, depending on where you live, I would check out the activities section of the newspaper for free or cheap live concerts to visit.

    Lawn care–get a goat. Just joking. If you truly don’t want to do it yourself, you just keep looking. For us when we needed it done, it wasn’t even so much the cost but just finding anyone willing to do it other than the ocassional teenager who would then mow down the little trees we had planted!

  6. Rashmi says: is good for cheap cosmetics.

    But seriously? Cosmetics last forever and a blusher and eye shadow can last years and don’t beleive the hype that they have a use by date.

    Also: a tube of bronze or rose coloured lipstick can be used for lips, as eye shadow and blusher. I discovered this travelling. Then you line your eyes with a cheap liner from a drug store, apply vaseline to eyelashes with an old mascara blush and tinted moisturiser and you are perfectly made up.

  7. Mike says:

    Craiglist is GREAT! I picked up a 3 year old “Rainbow” vacuum including shampoo attachment for $160.00 normally this unit would sell for $1500-$1800 dollars. If you are familiar with Craiglist you really should check it out. You can find some great deal on the site.

  8. Susan says:

    Sporting Goods: Look for a Play-It-Again Sports in your area, or any other consignment sporting goods store; check Craigslist – I have bought a lot of sporting goods that way, people who bought an excercise machine and it becomes a coat rack is a great source of cheap sporting goods; asking at a sporting goods store if they will discount the floor model.

    Cosmetics: I wish there was some way to save money here, especially with a teenager! I have found that if you apply foundation, just a drop of it, to the back of your hand and then apply with a brush, it seems to make it stretch further than using cosmetic pads.

    Concert tickets: Check your local library, performing arts center (especially during the summer for their concert series), and local colleges/universities for their orchestral performances – we went to an opera graduation and it was great!

    Automobiles: Any advice on this is always appreciated! Again, we are currently checking Craigslist for a good, used car for our daughter for college; look for a older person who is trying to sell a vehicle, miles are usually low and upkeep is usually excellent; Also, much better to buy used instead of new; both of our vehicles are 10-years-old and last year, we only spent $1200 on repairs for both of them. That is less than a car payment would be for two new cars, so for us, it is worth it to repair instead of pay $400 a month for a warranty!

    Lawn Care Services: Find a local teenager to mow, trim and weedeat. Be specific about what needs to be done and what you are willing to pay for a job done properly. Ask around for a dependable high school student and you can get really quality basics done by a good kid!

  9. Jan says:

    Automobiles: I agree with the readers who recommended buying used – we have done very well buying used vehicles. We have found that we can aford a car/truck with more options and end up purchasing a better vehicle for less money when buying used. We also always look up the value of the vehicle using Kelly Blue Book – so we don’t pay more than it’s worth.

    The Kelly Blue Book website will provide you with the trade in, private party or suggested retail value of the vehicle you are about to purchase or sell. My husband and I always look at this website before purchasing any vehicles. It has kept us from paying too much and has helped us negotiate on price. We just recently purchased an used truck for cash from a private party and saved $1000 by looking up the “private party” value before negotiating the price. It also helped us by telling the seller that the price we were offering was right in line with the Kelly Blue Book value. He had advertised for more on craigslist, but came down when he saw the KBB value in print.
    One other thing I always try to do if financing a vehicle purchase is make sure that the term of the auto loan (3, 4, 5 years)is not longer than the depreciation of the vehicle. In other words I always want to owe less on the vehicle than it’s worth (as I pay it off)so that if I need to sell it or trade it in I’m not upside down in my purchase. This works best if you choose the shortest loan term possible when financing – 3 or 4 years rather than 5 or 6 years of payments. Our rule for ourselves is if we have to finance the auto for more than 4 years to make the payment affordable, then we can’t afford it and need to go with something less expensive. Hope this helps!

  10. Monica says:

    As far as cosmetics, look for an Estee Lauder outlet store, which sells MAC Cosmetics, Clinique, and all other Estee Lauder brand products at a discount. Usually the products in the outlet store are from previous collections (think Holiday or Spring) and are at pretty good discounts. I don’t remember the name of the outlet, but I’m sure you can google it. It has “cosmetics” in the name.

    Also, try eBay for discounts. Many people sell makeup and fragrance on eBay for good prices, although you do take a chance.

  11. snafu says:

    Cosmetics: Look at Paula Begun’s ‘Don’t Go to the Cosmetic Counter Without Me’ books, available at the library. As a cosmetologist and who does make-up for celebrities, she studies the chemical composition of products to determine which are good for your skin, which deliver on promise/promo, which are produced as the same product under different price points etc. A lot of the stuff is just junk. Some is actually harmful, not covered under Food/Drug laws or quality control.

    Lawn Care: We always hired a high school student, the school counsellor knows which kids need to work and need income.

    Sports equipment is often available on Kijji [local e-bay offshoot] or Craig’sList. Team sport organizers usually have leads as well.

    Popular Concert tickets require splurges. You just need to treat yourself once in a while and enjoy every moment from actually getting a ticket, anticipating the concert, the concert itself and the after glow.

  12. Emily Booth says:

    RE: cosmetics, watch youtube videos. There are a lot of women on youtube in a wide age & coloration range trying out makeup. You can learn about products before buying them. Most drug store cosmetic lines are made by department store lines. I just learned that Palladio’s eyeshadow primer is the same as Urban Decay’s for 1/3 the price.

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