5 Costly Shopping Habits That Drive My 13-Year-Old Daughter Crazy

This is a guest post from my daughter, Nina.

Hi again, everyone!

Let me just take the time to start off by saying that my dad has been really busy and he needed to take a day or two off for Thanksgiving, so I offered to fill in for him again. As you can tell, Dad said yes!

Now, there are some things in this world that I see people do while they’re shopping that I just don’t understand. I know I’m only 13 and still have a lot to learn, but sometimes I shake my head because some people end up spending a lot more money than they really need to, and that makes it harder to save. It drives me crazy!

So, I came up with this list of the top 5 things shoppers do that just don’t make sense. At least not to me!

5. Paying extra for designer-label products

What I don’t get: People who spend their money on expensive shirts at a trendy store like American Eagle when they can get similar clothes for a lot less at a discount store.

Why not do this instead? Forget the name-brand products! Go spend some time at Target or Walmart where you can find clothes at much better prices.

4. Buying things in the smallest size containers

What I don’t get: People who always buy the smallest packs of, let’s say, the best paper towels. They might think they’re saving money, but they’re really not!

Why not do this instead? Buy in bulk! For example, I just checked the Internet and found that Walmart is selling a 2-pack of paper towels for $2.78. That’s $1.39 per roll. Walmart is also selling an 8-pack of the same brand for $7.97. That’s a little less than $1 per roll. So it’s cheaper to buy the pack of eight. That says it all.

3. Paying more money to own the newest technology

What I don’t get: People who always have to have the latest technology. It’s always very expensive. Let’s be honest. Do people really need to spend lots of money for the iPhone 5 right now?

Why not do this instead? Be patient and wait until the price goes down! For example, last year I worked really hard and saved enough money to buy a brand new iPod 4G at Best Buy for a little over $300. (I wrote all about that here.) But today you can buy one for just $200. Hey, if I had waited a bit I could have saved about $100!

2. Buying things you just don’t need

What I don’t get: People who buy the strangest things. Do people really need to waste money on stupid stuff like glow-in-the-dark toothbrushes or Star Trek snuggies? I mean, come on!

Why not do this instead? Only buy things you really need and don’t buy things just because you want them! Your wallet will get bigger from all the money you save, I guarantee it.

1. Making lots of random shopping trips

What I don’t get: People who go to the store for, say, just one shirt, or to buy only one jug of milk. That’s a waste of time. It’s a waste of gas as well!

Why not do this instead?  Try making one shopping trip instead of 20! Maximize your time by getting everything that you need all at once. You’ll definitely save gas! And saving gas means saving money. And saving money means a happier you. It’s as simple as that.

Photo Credit: Walter Lim


  1. 2

    Sandy says

    Great tips, Nina! Your dad has taught you well and I expect you’ll do just fine as an adult when it comes to managing your money. I’m sure your dad is very proud of you!

  2. 3

    Allyn says

    I am very disappointed that you are advocating that people shop at Walmart. Walmart has destroyed tens of thousands of small businesses and countless manufacturing jobs over the past couple of decades. They’ve become a gigantic retail behemoth that sells five times more stuff than any other retailer in the United States; unfortunately, about 85 percent of all the stuff sold at Walmart is made overseas so by buying at Walmart, you’re supporting China’s economy, not ours. Our economy is becoming dominated by highly centralized monolithic predator corporations who cut costs at the expense of the people. Did you know that tens of thousands of Walmart employees don’t make a living wage? Full-time employees and their children are enrolled in Medicaid and are dependent on the government for healthcare and they make so little, they qualify for food stamps. All the money that people spend at Walmart does not stay in their communities. It’s funneled back into the corporate vaults, so Walmart forces local businesses to close because they can’t compete, then Walmart hires local people at a wage that makes them eligible for public assistance. Walmart is the largest employer in 25 states and it is also the chief reason we’ve seen an explosion in the number of “working poor.” In 2010, Walmart had revenues of 421 billion dollars and not a single dollar of that was returned to your community. Is this really the mega-merchant you want to support?

    • 4

      Len Penzo says

      Allyn, to be fair, Nina is only 13! :-)

      Without turning this into a discussion on the pros and cons of WalMart, I do feel the need to offer a brief, but by no-means exhaustive, counterpoint.

      We have to also consider the money saved by shoppers who take advantage of WalMart’s lower prices. Without stores like WalMart, many people, including the “working poor,” would have a more difficult time making their rent, car payments, or other debts. They can also apply their savings to buy more goods and services — which in turn helps to create new jobs.

      Also, WalMart drives many mom and pop store out of business because they are more efficient, which drives costs lower, which in turn increases our standard of living.

      One last point, in addition to lowering costs for consumers, WalMart also benefits society by acting as a one-stop-shop for many goods. Instead of having to spend a big part of one’s day driving to multiple mom and pop stores, folks can now save time that can be put to much better use elsewhere.

      • 5

        Allyn says

        Thirteen is a good age to start being a smart consumer. Walmart is breaking the backs of the working poor, not helping them. We’ll have to agree to disagree here, Len.

  3. 7

    Jenn says

    I think it’s great that a 13 year old is so financially minded. :)

    A couple of comments:
    Not everyone has the luxury of a lot of space to store extra items when purchasing things in bulk. Living in a small (400sq ft) urban apartment, I’d rather spend the $1.39/roll on paper towel than have to trek out to the suburbs where the big box retailers live, wrangle the super-sized items home on transit and then find spaces to put it all. Sure, the cost per unit is less, but overall society spends more in ‘supersizing’ because of the perceived value. More is not always better.

    To me, being able to pick up what I need (no more, no less) is worth the extra couple of dollars I’ll spend and the time saved in hunting down a bargain and having to trip over my ‘savings’.

    I’ll have to +1 Allyn’s comment about WalMart.

  4. 8


    For a 13 year old girl, you seem to know a lot about what’s going on! There are always two sides to every story, so don’t worry if everyone doesn’t agree with you. I can see your point about the designer labels. It does seem ridiculous when you think about it! And buying in bulk can save you money, but it isn’t always the right answer depending on your available storage space. With gas prices so high right now, trying to make fewer trips and combining shopping trips makes a lot of sense! Keep up the good work, young lady!

  5. 9


    I think you make some good points, Nina. I wish I had been as smart about money at your age.
    I will say that sometimes we buy things that we want (but don’t need) because the value proposition is still there for us. Based on what I’ve read here, I’ll use your dog, Major, as an example. Unless you’re talking about a service dog, no one needs a dog (mind you, we have two of our own and foster a thrid). They are expensive- from their food and routine costs to emergency medical care. And yet, I know your parents think Major is worth every penny, and I bet you do, too. I know my dogs are.
    So instead of saying “buy only what you need”, think instead about the value proposition, make sure that what you are spending your money on is worth it, and that you have the money to do so.

  6. 10


    I agree with you Nina, I don’t get most of this either. Though I must admit that I’m guilty of sometimes going to much at the store to buy for food… instead of doing it all at once. Fortunately, I walk there, so not more money invested because of this habit, but sure more time.

  7. 11

    Beckybeq says

    Love it Nina – you remind me of my 12 year old. You are two very bright girls. A few additions perhaps from my Megan?

    #5 – Try Goodwill or thrift stores as well. Megan found Aeropostle shorts (which are one of the few brands that fit her) for less than $5 per pair.

    #4 – Usually, but be sure to check the per unit price. Sometimes the largest size isn’t the cheapest.

  8. 12

    chad says

    $421 billion in revenue and not a single dollar was returned to the community. ?? Oh please, fabricate some more stats for us. Sam Walton provided a success story..something a lot of Mom&Pops wished they could be. Walmart just gets picked on because of their size. I shop there for convience and competitive price. I suppose I could have helped a Mom&Pop stay in business by overpaying for the same merchandise or forgoing selection or suffering with older product because they couldn’t rotate stock. But it seems the reason most Mom&Pops went under is because too few consumers were willing to make such a sacrifice themselves.

  9. 13

    pen says

    Nina, your guest posts are always nice.
    Designer labels used to mean higher quality products, but that is not always the case now. Still, the habit of assuming a higher price and well known name equals a better item is set in many people’s mind.

  10. 14

    Rose says

    You go girl!!! 13 years old and giving great advice to adults… It’s sad and awesome that we can actually take advice from our children :) that doesn’t happen in this day and age very often. Keep up the great posts I look forward to them. Rose <3

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