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Row 4. (Vol. 1)

I think it’s safe to say that for me, when it comes to shopping, I’m not like most people.

Most people, it seems, regardless of whether or not they enjoy the actual act of shopping itself, at least enjoy the fruits of said shopping — the way that new flat-screen rounds out his wall decor or how the green in that discounted scarf from T.J. Maxx brings out her eyes. 

But me? I suffer from a well-known affliction called buyer’s remorse. And I’m fairly unique because flare-ups aren’t restricted to big purchases. See, not only do I spend a ridiculously exorbitant amount of time deciding whether or not to purchase something, from stressing about choosing the best used book option on Amazon to standing in front of the dog toothbrushes — the DOG TOOTHBRUSHES — at the pet supply store for nearly fifteen minutes, I then have to spend, at the very least, the next ten minutes (and up to ten months) agonizing about whether I’ve made the right decision.

I mean, do you even know how many choices there are for canine dental care?

I’ve been on a bit of a spendy spree lately, in light of our attempts to whip this house into some semblance of shape. The thing is, when I have a set purpose in mind, the actual act of shopping — of making an informed decision on the best option — can be somewhat therapeutic.

Right up until the cashier hands me my receipt. At which point I send myself into a shame spiral of second-guesses.

It all stems, I think, from the value I place on money. My warped dollar value scale looks something like this:

Category Examples My Perceived Value
Necessities deodorant, toothpaste, Nair, dental floss, etc. Spend as little as possible to get ‘er done.
Nice-To-Haves television, kitchen counters, heat, working vehicle, etc. Spend as little as possible to get ‘er done.
Really-Nice-To-Haves electricity, plumbing, take-out, pretty decor, etc. Spend as little as possible to get ‘er done.
Can’t-Live-Withouts travel, wine, comfortable bedding, delicious food, art, etc. Money? What’s that?

My mother asked me once how Justin and I can afford to live the way we live — dining out fairly frequently, buying fresh, whole foods to eat at home, travel (even if it’s just locally) a couple of times per year, renovate our house, etc. — on mainly just his income. And, when I think about it, the answer is pretty simple. We’re willing to be incredibly stingy — or, in some cases completely forego — basically everything in the first three rows of that table for even just a taste of anything in the coveted ROW 4. (If I hit the “shift” key, that’s ROW $. Coincidence? I think not.) Whenever I purchase something from Rows 1-3, I have to ask myself if it’s worth having a little less of Row 4.

It’s a sickness.

That’s why owning a home stresses me out. It forces me to pull items from Rows 2 and 3 into Row 4 — things that are important for re-sale value, like curtains. And lights. And apparently home buyers like to have kitchen counters, on top of everything else.

Spoiled brats.

In the interest of transparency, I’m going to share with you a few of the things I’ve purchased — and agonized over — in recent weeks, and you can either make me feel better by telling me how thrifty and awesome and pretty I am, or you can make me feel shitty by telling me how much I suck at life. Also, if you want, you can buy some of these things yourself, or tell me what you’d do differently. (None of these links are affiliate links, and I’m not being paid to share these items with you.)

The Rug

Mohawk Medici Rug

What I Paid: $193.90 + tax, free shipping

Why It’s A Deal: This rug is normally listed for $277, which is still pretty low for a rug this size. But right now, online, it’s listed as “overstock” at a deep discount.

The Pros: Okay, guys. I don’t have the best track record when it comes to rug shopping. I’ve wasted a lot of money buying non-returnable discount rugs online and having them show up in an unexpected color or basically disintegrate within a year. And, unfortunately for me, this whole house is filled with hardwoods (who would’ve thought that could be a bad thing?), and I like some occasional padding under my footsies. This rug is actually a really pretty gray color in person, and had excellent reviews online. (I’d show you a picture, but I can’t even unroll the whole thing right now because all of our kitchen cabinets are temporarily relocated into the same room.) And less than $200 for a 10×13 area rug?! That’s pretty much unheard of.

The cons: When it arrived, I realized that the beige part is actually looped fibers — not tufted. What that means is that little dog nails can snag those loops and basically make the rug look like crap over time. Also, the strands along one side of the border have been cut and frayed — probably during manufacturing.

Keep or Return? I’m going to return this one anyway, because of the manufacturer defect. But should I have them deliver a new one? For $200, I could theoretically replace it with the same one each year for the next three years and still not spend as much as a typical 10×13 foot rug. Also, it’s not going in a high traffic area.

The Microwave

Whirlpool 0.5 cu. ft. Microwave Model # WMC20005YD

What I Paid: $116.10 + tax, free shipping

Why It’s A Deal: It’s listed on the Home Depot site for $139.00. However, Lowe’s currently has it listed for $129.00. My local Home Depot will price match and add a 10% discount to get the sale.

The Pros: It’s so cute! Yes, apparently microwaves can be cute. It fits into a deep, unused corner of our kitchen countertop, and the curvy interior makes it simple to clean. It even fits an 11″ round dinner plate.

The Cons: It’s only 750-Watts, so I probably shouldn’t expect to actually do any cooking in this thing — just re-heating. We’ve never use our microwave to cook anyway, so that’s not a big deal. I also don’t love the fact that it doesn’t have a number pad, which I didn’t realize when I ordered it. It just has + and – buttons you can push and hold to adjust the time.

Keep or Return? It’s a little spendy for only 750-Watts and 0.5 cubic feet of space. It kind of looks like a little, boxy television set.  (If you were born after 1990, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.) But it’s also incredibly unique, does what we need it to do, and fits in the limited amount of space we have for a microwave in this remodel.

The Wine

WSJ Discovery Wine Club

What I Paid: $69.99 for 15 bottles, + tax and $19.99 shipping

Why It’s A Deal: What I ended up paying amounts to approximately $6.28 per bottle. Though I primarily stick to inexpensive wines, we easily spend closer to $8-$20 per bottle when stocking up from Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market, or Total Wine.

Pros: This club is affiliated with The Wall Street Journal, which I figured is a reputable source, and there is no membership fee. I plan on discontinuing my membership once this first case gets delivered, because the price goes up after that (though it still seems to be a pretty good deal).

Cons: I don’t get to pick the wine. But then I don’t know enough about wine — except for the fact that I like it — to really care that much. And we all know how I feel about making decisions.

Keep or Return? Um, yeah. I’m not going to return it. It’s in Row 4.

How about you? What’s in your Row 4? Does it make you agonize over purchases as much as I do? I just don’t like to waste money. Do you think I’m wasting it on the items above? Is this a fun game? Should we play again? Maybe next time you can come over and help me shop. I’ll have plenty of wine.


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Jeannine Bruner

I got that wine coupon when I bought some boots from (shoes are a #4 category for me). I REALLY thought about it, but ultimately decided to toss it….:( I am cutting back in some areas so we can save to build a house in the next year. *sigh*


Ahh, so house building is in your Row 4, and wine purchasing is in your Row 3. Your priorities are SO messed up. ;) (That is seriously exciting though! And as long as you’re not racking up the kind of wine bills we rack up at Trader Joe’s, I’d say it’s a smart move.)


Ha! Love it.


My row 4 is art supplies. I cant pass up a good sale at Dick Blick’s or a frame clearance at Michael’s. I can justify that tho coz I make part of my living as an artist. But still, I probably don’t really NEED any more hand laid paper or artisan rolled pastels! I think your rug was a good score. The microwave – meh – not my style but still a good score on price!


Don’t blame you there — that’s business! Of COURSE you need that stuff. :) Yeah… function-wise, I’m liking the microwave, but not crazy about how it looks. I’m thinking it might be small enough to put in a pantry, though, if I allow for some ventilation. Pondering…


I don’t think I have rows like this. My value-for-thing scale is really specific and would take forever to chart. I do think I spend most of my money on food and travel, but I’m particular there too. I think for any given thing, there’s a price in my head that is reasonable and another one that is acceptable for a treat. And I can’t justify going over the second one. eg. I like to pay under $0.75 for a box of kleenex, but will pay up to $1.25 if the design is pretty enough.

Also, I really like that rug.


Ha! I think I’m like that to a point. I have fuzzy limits… It was all simplified, of course, for the purpose of this post. :) We definitely don’t have the money for luxury travel, but I’ll get over my stinginess a good deal when planning for a trip (and everything that goes along with it, like clothing purchases, etc.). I wouldn’t put us in debt over it, but money’s definitely more fluid when it’s going towards Row 4.


Becca often comments that I’m “the king of convincing myself NOT to buy something”. Often I can pick an item up at a store, often something that’s a decent price but nothing we necessarily need, and before we finish shopping and make it to the register I’ve already gone back to the original shelf and put it back (Yes, I put it back where I found it).

I do very strange things to save money from time to time. The one constant I’ve typically had is trying to buy very little groceries that aren’t one sale; particularly meat. I allow a few items that are used on a weekly basis (milk, eggs, etc) but those other things I try to plan. Fortunately, Becca enjoys looking through the circulars even more than I do.

We’re still looking for another area rug for the house; and have been cautious about buying exclusively online since we don’t want to encounter a situation like you mentioned with dog feet/nails catching. One material we’ve found that works is olefin, and it’s pretty soft. Mals really enjoys passing out on it. However, do you have any sites you recommend looking for a good deal; as we’re still looking for one about 8×11 or a bit larger for a decent price.


I’m the same way! Because when you think about it long enough, do you really *need* anything? :)

I hate looking through the circulars and often try to plan a menu from home so I can attempt to use up what we have before it goes bad (often expensive-ish ingredients like fresh herbs and organic cream), and that already takes me long enough. We have cut waaaay back on meat, though. But when we do buy it, it’s the good stuff.

Definitely try Home Depot — they have all these big “overstock” sales happening online right now, and you can always call them to ask questions about the pile before committing. Most of theirs are returnable, too, so even if it unexpectedly turns out to be looped, you won’t be stuck with it. has a lot of great options as well, but I think their return policy might be less appealing!


I am so terrible with buying things!! I have been told by my mom and husband that I am also the worst to shop for because I know how much things cost and it literally physically pains me to know that they spent that money on me. I just went shopping with my mom for my birthday and it was super painful. Then I bring the things home and now I am totally second guessing everything (even though I tried it on at the store!) and wondering if I should return for something different or the money itself. AHHHHH just typing that gets me anxious haha
Sorry for ranting – my row 4 would probably be wine also. And yoga (hot yoga classes are so expensive but I figure it saves me in other ways so totally worth it!).


Haha! It’s funny because I don’t mind when *others* are spending the money on me, and I’m way okay with buying gifts for others! It’s just spending our own money on “frivolous” stuff for US that I have a hard time with. I’m so happy I’m not the only weirdo when it comes to money. :) (And I don’t know how people can do hot yoga! I can barely make it through a normal yoga class, let alone throwing the heat in there. I’d say that’s definitely Row 4-worthy since it’s healthy and makes you feel good!)

Colleen Brynn

Omg I actually think I’m terrified of rug buying. I want a rug for my place but I’m too scared to go for it. Are there rules/guidelines for how a rug should fit or go in a room? I tried looking this up but just got more confused. Also, great find on that wine. I’m jealous!
Oh yeah, and travel – that’s my row 4. I couldn’t even tell you what I’ve spent on traveling over the years, but let’s just say every penny I’ve ever earned or saved over the years has gone to travel. Some of my friends have cars. I have travel.


Wait, you can’t order cases of wine in India?? ;) And I have to say, I’m far more jealous. You are giving your Row 4 your ALL, and that’s pretty phenomenal. Most people aren’t brave enough to do that. :)

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