Window Shopping: An Exercise for Future Spending

We had the most fun today.  We went to a DIY store and walked nearly the whole of the store, every aisle, every department.  I just want to share here that the store we visited was a Home Depot.  I never used to be a fan...Note that 'used to be'.  The Lowes in our area are very difficult to get any sort of help in at all.  Even if you find the right person in the right department, invariably they will say, "Oh, I'm busy right now but I'll be back in a minute or so."  No minute is ever as long as those at Lowes, let me just say that.  I like the brightness of the store and I have no quarrel with quality of product nor prices...but geez!  The service is abysmal.  

So recently John decided he would become a Home Depot convert.  True, it is darker inside than Lowes, but products/quality/price are fine and the service!  Gracious you can barely make it down a single aisle without being asked twice or three times if you need any help.  It's lovely!

That all said, we were, obviously, shopping at Home Depot.  We started at the front of the store and walked into nearly every section except the cabinets and appliances areas.  I don't need to go into those areas at the moment and it might have spoiled my day if I had. our walking through, John and I did something we've never done before: we let ourselves actually think about what we'd like to do to our own home, in replacing and updating.  We came away not discouraged but deeply encouraged, because we found so many things that answered a desire but weren't pricey at all.  Now granted we couldn't buy them all today, but most of the work we've talked over the past few years we find requires $50 or $100, if done one job at a time. 

Now I just have to share that John has a tendency to overinflate what he thinks something will cost.  It's understandable really, since we know all too well that many of the finishes we see in those television flip/realty shows are truly beyond our scope...but we don't live in that world, do we?  No one will ever pay us those sorts of prices for our home either!  What we saw today though just blew us away and as I said, the idea that 'Hey...we can afford to do this!  And that, too!' began to settle down upon us.  The bulk of the things we looked at are items we can replace ourselves or  (one of our handier children in one or two instances).

There was also an added benefit in 'just looking' today: we found a very well priced, too good to pass up bargain on two lighting fixtures.  We'll be replacing two of these fixtures in a couple of weeks and if they look as well as we expect, we'll be going back to buy four more.  The price is too good to let slip by!

I didn't have a piece of paper with me, but I did have my phone and on my phone is a handy notepad where I can write out notes.  I started a pricelist of items we looked at today and thought we might use.  We've got our wish list, we've got our prices.  Now we start to save to purchase items for projects.

Well, this whole day got me thinking:  why don't I window shop more often?  If I need clothes why not go out and price them?  I am under no obligation to purchase the day I look but I'd have an idea how much needed pieces will cost.  Same for furniture I want to replace.  I most probably will buy used, but if I go look at furnishings won't I have a little more knowledge about what I'm seeing at a yard sale or thrift store and whether or not it's a good buy if I've done my window shopping first?   Now and then I want a few luxury items I come across routinely enough in recipes.  I confess, I tend not to choose recipes that contain ingredients I'd normally not have readily on hand, but...if I window shop at the grocery and know that this product or item costs 'x' and I have nine recipes I could use it in then I might set funds aside and purchase it. 

And what if, as today, I stumble on that awesome bargain on something I have on my lists?  It's an opportunity worth stepping up to grab, agreed?  I do realize the trick is recognizing the difference between impulse shopping and truly covering a present or future need.  I doubt I will window shop more than once a month if that often, but I think it another worthwhile tool to use in my savings arsenal.


Lana said...

We have made the same switch and also find that the Depot is cheaper. If you sign up for their emails you will get a $5 off $50 coupon that is good for maybe 2 weeks. One hard lesson we have learned lately though is that for some things just going to your local Mom and Pop business is cheaper. The flooring we are putting in before listing our house was about 40% cheaper by not buying at the big box store. But, Depot is the cheapest price on paint that we can find.

Anonymous said...

How funny! In our town it is just the opposite. Lowe's has helpers and Home Depot none. When they first opened you could trip over the employees willing to help but now no matter what they are not around or can not be called to the area! :-)
I hate that about help when needed. Also no pricing. None on the item or the shelf. How can you prepare or know if you can afford the thing? They say just take it to the checkout and they will tell you. Why stand in line forever to just find out it is too high a price or that you need four and only brought one to price check! LOL Or they tell you to look in isle so and so for the price machine. You hunt and finally find it and it is broken. :(((( LOL LOL Welcome to retail!!!! :-))))) Sarah

Anonymous said...

I love this post because it is so upbeat, and truly we should look around. My husband is the same way as yours - he always thinks things are going to cost more than they truly do.

I have to share that one of my new students loves to shop at Home Depot. His grandmother says that she takes him there as a reward, and he loves to walk up and down and look at all of the items. He is only 4 years old! I like to walk in their gardening department! I've never had a parent tell me that Home Depot is their child's favorite place before!


susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

For me it is so much simpler to just go to our little local family-owned-for-generations hardware store for any smaller hardware items. It saves my knees from hiking around and around in a huge store where no one can ever tell me where anything is. Most of the time the prices are very comparable, and everything has a price right on it.

We have had poor service at both Lowe's and Home Depot. But on the other hand, I have had excellent help while in the garden center at both of the stores. The workers really went out of their way to be helpful, especially with loading bags of potting soil onto the cart and into the car trunk for me.

A while back we were "window shopping" for a new toilet. Not fun shopping. Our toilet is circa 1954. It may sound odd, but I want to see up close what we are buying. There are some measurements that need to be known when replacing a toilet, plus I wanted to get a taller one. At our nearest Home Depot there was no such thing as actually getting to see the toilets close up because they were on display suspended up in the air overhead with the toilet base so high up no one could even touch it. You could see pictures of the toilets on the boxes, but for me that isn't enough. I'm sure there were measurements on the boxes, and measurements are available online, but I still wanted to see exactly what we were getting. We left before anyone ever came to that department to answer any questions. We have only one bathroom in our house; so when replacement day happens, it needs to go off without a problem, or we will be "really" out of luck.

We did find what we want at a plumbing supply store. It was on display so that it could be seen. There was a customer service rep there who was happy to help us, and was very knowledgeable about measurements, and all of the details of various flushing types, and coordinating with a plumber to get it picked up and brought to our home for installation.

We did our "window shopping", and know what we want, but it still remains to be done. I was surprised at the different price points, shapes, styles of toilets, tanks, and flush choices that there are. I'm glad we now know what we will be getting.

You're right, it is good to window shop.

Sparkiedoll said...

Another interesting and thought provoking post, thanks! I am working on making a little book of measurements. You have reminded me that I could use my phone memo. I'm always on the look out for items like a blind for a tiny bathroom window. In order to take advantage of a 'one off' opportunity I need to know the size of the window. I have a small retractable tape measure on my key ring too. If I see just the right bookcase for that little alcove I can check if it will fit and not miss a bargain, or waste money by guessing. Best wishes, Rose (UK)

Spicy Apple Cake - I FOUND IT!

While sorting though Mama's cookbooks the other day I came across a Family Circle magazine cookbook that looked familiar.  I brought...