Better Budgeting: The Tale of the $35 Stand Mixer

The Tale of the $35 Stand Mixer

Credit Wise (featured column)
by Jennifer Wallis

I have a confession to make. I love the Food Network and I don’t care who knows it! I can’t get enough of Guy and his spiky flair. I love watching Bobby throw down with the best cooks around the country. Waiting to see what the secret ingredient is on Iron Chef is sometimes the highlight of my day. You may read this and agree with me or you may think that I’ve really got to start getting out more.

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One cooking gadget that most of these TV chefs have in common is one of those heavy duty stand mixers. A few years ago, I started to really notice how cool it was that they could just turn it on, toss stuff in there, walk away, and the mixer did all of the work for them. Then I pictured myself, covered in flour and sugar, baking my famous Christmas pies, and trying to fluff meringue with a regular old hand mixer. I was wowed by all of the different colors that the stand mixers come in and how classic they looked on the countertop. I had to have one! Then, I looked at the price.

Needless to say, I couldn’t justify spending that amount of money on what was really an unnecessary item. I asked myself the question every financial expert will tell you to ask- “Do you need it or do you just want it?” Well, the hard truth was that I wanted it really badly but I didn’t need it. So, it became something on my list of things to buy “someday”. When my sister-in-law got one, I was genuinely happy for her and obliged by asking all of the polite questions about the color, brand, and capacity but I kept my envy in check. I knew I would have one someday.

So, I developed a plan. I was going to pull out all of the stops and get that mixer! First, I started stalking stand mixers. I looked around at all of the local stores to find the best price. I had my eye on one particular brand and one particular color (Cobalt blue, by the way) so I really got serious. I watched for it to go on sale. Every time a new sale started, I would check the website to see if it was included. If it wasn’t, I knew I’d have to wait a bit longer.

Next, I knew I needed as many gift cards as I could get. When my family started to ask what I’d like for Christmas, I told them all that I’d like gift cards to that one particular store.

Then, I needed store credit. Several friends and family members purchased me Christmas gifts from the same store that just happened to not fit so I returned them for store credit.

Then, I googled “promo codes” and found some great websites such as retailmenot.com that give free promotional codes to help you save a lot of money on online purchases.

It just so happened that the manufacturer of the stand mixer had a $30 mail-in rebate offer too.  Ka-ching!

I was finally able to order the stand mixer of my dreams online at the store’s website. So, my dream mixer started at $329. I had $150 in gift cards which reduced it to $179. I had $69 in store credit which reduced the cost to $110. Minus the $30 mail in rebate the total was $80. Then I threw in my 15% off promo code which saved me $45.  My grand total out of pocket expense for the mixer of my dreams was $35, which I paid for with my debit card!

I finally achieved my goal! In fact, I look for reasons to use my mixer. I bake more and cook things that require a lot of mixing. I use it so much that one of my friends has dubbed me “Sir Mix a Lot .” But, other than just bragging about my amazing deal, there’s a larger lesson here.

There was a time when I would have just whipped out the plastic and put that mixer on a credit card when I first knew I wanted one. I really wouldn’t have thought twice about it either. Over the years, I have learned to be a lot more disciplined in my spending. I know now that I don’t have to give in to every desire that I have when I see an item I want. I’d rather pay cash. In fact, it’s a lot more fun to see how much money I can actually save. It has kind of become a game to me to see how many dollars I can knock off when I make a major purchase.

When I know that I want/need an expensive item, I start doing my homework way before I actually buy it. I read customer reviews on Amazon to make sure I am getting the best brand. Many stores price match so a few years ago, when we decided to buy a video camera, I knew I wanted to buy it from a store where I had a gift card but I found the same item cheaper somewhere else. I was able to print that ad, take it to the store that I wanted to purchase from and they matched the price.

The true lesson that I learned the hard way is to delay gratification when it comes to major purchases-to put off getting what I want. Credit cards pay to that base human desire that when we see something that we want, we want it NOW. Credit cards allowed me to have everything I wanted but with that came a lot of regrets. I realized that just because I thought I wanted something at the time didn’t mean I’d want it when my head cleared. Learning to delay that gratification really changed my life. I learned to take a “cooling off period” when I see something I want. I don’t buy it right then, wait a bit, do some research, and save for it. I see if I still think it’s a good idea a few days later and I start developing a plan for how to get it.  In the case of the stand mixer that meant stalking sales, saving gift cards and searching for promo codes. I can also say that it meant a lot more when I did reach my goal because I know how hard I worked for it.

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Copyright © 2010 by Jennifer Wallis. All rights reserved.

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