What’s your non-negotiable non-bargain?

By Mir
March 1, 2011
Category Big Picture

I was thinking today, for some reason, about the rare items for which I will not only pay full price, but which I know to be either unhealthy (if consumable) or not terribly high-quality either as an item or an experience. My philosophy on saving money has always been that you save on what you can so that you don’t have to worry about where you can’t, but still.

My quintessential example of this is Girl Scout Cookies. I swear that every year the box is smaller, the number of cookies fewer; plus they’re not exactly health food, and now that I’m gluten-free, I can’t even eat them. And I never pay that kind of money for cookies, otherwise. But the kids love Thin Mints. And the little girls in their Brownies uniforms ambushed me on my way out of the grocery store. And really, it’s like giving to charity, buying those. Right? Right.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. What’s yours? ‘Fess up—we won’t judge you. Probably.


  1. My car. I will not take it to a place I don’t trust just to use a coupon.

  2. Diet Coke.

    Don’t get me wrong, I buy it on sale when I find it, but if it’s not on sale ….. well, I rationalize that it’s cheaper to pay $10 for a box of 24 than to wait for a sale while I pay $1.29 for a single can from the gas station.

    Occasionally I try buying the store brand of diet soda instead and it usually just sits in the pantry, lonely and un-consumed until somebody gets really desperate.

  3. My husband bought SIX boxes of Girl Scout cookies this year. SIX!!! I gave two away to my daughter.

    There are certain food items that I have to buy no matter if they are on sale or not.
    JIF peanut butter
    LeSeur Peas
    Things like that. Also, my husband’s favorite coffee. I buy it no matter how much it is because he’s a huge coffee drinker and loves it.

  4. Yes, GS cookies are charity! You’re supporting the girls buy buying the little tasty treats (Samoas/Caramel Delights for me!).

    My item, which I can usually get on sale, but would pay full price for, is Calvin Klein Stretch Flare jeans. Make my @ss look great, I think, and they fit without showing my undies! Worth the $69 if not on sale and I need a new pair.

  5. As a Scout leader and cookie pusher we thank you for your purchase. My girls are using their earned money this year to take a troop trip to the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky.

  6. Folger’s Coffee. My husband MUST have his coffee, for the good of the household, so we stock up when we can but if we run out before there’s a sale, we still buy.

    Also, Mary Kay cosmetics. I found something that works for my skin and I don’t mess with it!

  7. CoffeeMate Peppermint Mocha creamer (now available year-round!).

    Of course, it’s partially to keep us from buying Starbucks/Caribou in the morning, so still kind of a money-saver. But when we are almost out, I pay full price without hesitation.

    It would be both a health and money saver to learn to drink homemade coffee black, but neither of us are willing to make that sacrifice (which isn’t really a sacrifice at all, of course).

  8. L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream. It’s outrageously expensive, never goes on sale, and I luuuuurve it.

  9. Starbucks latte. Although, I use a gift card that I reload that now has gold status, so free flavorings and a free drink of any kind for every fifteen purchases (more often than I care to admit) – so I guess that’s still a bargain?

    I do refuse to buy cheap concert or theatre tickets. I don’t go all that often, and it is worth it.

  10. Gatorade powder. I never see coupons for it and rarely see it on sale but we go through about two 50 oz cans a month.

  11. Shampoo with a pump bottle. We have one main bathroom for our family of 6. I could buy less expensive shampoo, but the bottle clutter drives me crazy. I figure spending the extra money on the pump means calmer mornings for me.

  12. School/childcare/education. The only reason I’m working right now is to put our son in a private school because the local public school just wasn’t cutting it. Before he was school-age, I had him in a private, Christian daycare. I definitely could have taken him somewhere that cost less, but the teachers at his daycare went above and beyond for him, especially while my husband was gone for 7 months for basic training and then his Army schooling.

  13. cheese – ha ha, but seriously — I want the best tasting and organic usually.
    Also – I am learning — shoes, I have yet to buy a pair online that I love. I am just at the point (age :)) where I HAVE to try them on before buying — I SO dislike returns.
    I never buy cheap coffee – I just won;t buy if it is too outrageous.

  14. handmade soap. I buy it from a herbalist and get body soap, shampoo bars, and shaving bars.

    espresso and decaf espresso grounds

    and I guess tea. adagio tea when I am feeling indulgent, and celestial seasonings for my iced tea addiction.

    I paid full price for Uggs this winter. Does that count? That was hard.

  15. Organic food.

    And Golden, you paid full price for Uggs? I wish I had your balls 🙂

  16. One year my niece sold enough GS cookies to earn the huge prize–an overnighter at Sea World! Their troop had so much money left at the end of that fiscal year that each girl got to go to TWO week-long “enrichment” camps of their choosing through the Girl Scouts.

    What will I always pay full price for? My Curel. I use it on my face and have had no skin problems for the past 7 years. I have sensitive/combo skin and the Curel keeps it smooth and beautiful. Of course the $8 bottle lasts me about 9 months so it’s not really an extravagance.

  17. Cottonelle toilet paper. I’m committed.

    And every once in a while I’ll treat myself to a full-priced something luxurious like OPI nailpolish or salon shampoo (yesterday I bought some Bliss shampoo & conditioner, but it was on sale. But I did buy other stuff to get the free shipping. Slippery slope).

  18. Music lessons, we are huge Suzuki method fans and between the quality instruments, extra workshops, books, and group lessons it is our big family splurge.

    Along the same lines, I also will spend some major cash on homeschool books and supplies. I’m all about spending what it takes to make life comfortable.

    As an entire family of celiac folk I will spend on yummy gluten free treats and flours/blends etc to make the good stuff at home.

  19. my skin care stuff. my face is a persnickety b!tch and i don’t like to piss her off. also, pretty much anything my husband wants. the man doesn’t ask for much, truly, so when he wants a toy (which is RARE, i’m talking not-even-once-a-year rare; it makes gift giving very difficult), i’m more than happy to just pay the going rate. we of course look for the cheapest price, but we don’t typically wait months for something he wants to go on sale or for a coupon to turn up.

  20. Food in general. I want the best quality possible and that means spending the money. However, it isn’t always healthy food. Because we are a gf household, I will often buy gf junk food for my kids so they can have a comparable treat to what their peers are having. If I can make it, or buy it in bulk to save money, of course I’ll do that. But if I can’t get a good deal, I will buy it anyway to make things easier for my kids. And I won’t give it a second thought.

  21. Shampoo with a pump bottle- We just refill it from my bargain stockpile!

    Face wash/ moisturizer
    Macaroons from my fav Itailian bakery

    This is a hard question for cheapies like me.

  22. Yes on Girl Scout cookies. I guess these don’t fall under unhealthy, but: milk, coffee and meat. We are a family of heavy milk and coffee (with half and half) drinkers, and for me it’s worth to pay extra for good milk because it’s a mainstay of our diet. Two adults, two toddlers. I don’t have to buy organic, though, because our local grocery sells milk from a local cooperative that buys from family farms with good practices. Our milk bill is still more than $100 a month.

    Also organic coffee from Costco. It’s just the preferred taste for the primary drinker in the household.

    Not big meat-eaters, about three times a week, but I would rather pay more for humanely raised meat.

  23. My hair…although I haven’t succumb to coloring yet (although those grays are doing a bit more than just peeking through lately), I will follow my stylist to the ends of the earth. She is pricey, but her cuts last me a long time and even after I’ve let my hair go too long between cuts, it still looks good. She is pricelss!

  24. Apparently, liv and I are the same person married to the same man. Just repeat her comment and that’s what I would say. 😉

  25. For my husband – Listerine Cool Mint – he doesn’t like anything else; I’ve tried

    For Thing 1 – Boar’s Head meats and cheeses – yes, it’s still luncheon meat which is not the best but at least it’s REAL food not pasteurized, processed something er other which he would eat but I won’t allow

    For Thing 2 – organic milk (obviously, not per his insistence but mine)

    For me – Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips – Nestle in a pinch but store brand – heavens NO!; hair cut and coloring at a salon with my hairdresser – no one else, no home coloring – it’s my night out and my biggest splurge!

    Thank goodness all of the above goes on sale and I stock up like there’s no tomorrow when they do!!!

  26. Souvenir clothing when on trips.

    The stuff is usually not anywhere near worth the money they charge, but when the trip is over and you still haven’t found something suitable cheaper and you go home without, no one is happy.

    It’s taken a long time to get over this hurdle, but finally I am able to let my kids get the odd t-shirt or cap that they covet, because they certainly aren’t going to be able to get it anywhere else. Best to suck it up and buy it early in the trip and eliminate stopping/shopping everywhere to try to find something that’s a better deal. No matter how much it pains me…

  27. Sugar cane sugar for my coffee.

    Bread. I only buy the best whole wheat bread even if it’s not on sale. Though I will stock up if it is.

  28. Essential oils… I buy them through Young Living and some are around 80 dollars for a 15ml bottle. BUT… I use them to make my own laundry detergent and cleaning products so in some way its a deal… right? It’s just hard every time I need too place another order!

  29. Shoes. I am finding it increasingly hard to find good looking (as in, something not grandma-looking) shoes that are comfortable and fit well. So when I find them, I buy them, because my size sells out fast. Also, good clothes that I like. It’s hard to find clothes I like that fit well and look good, so if they meet those three criteria, I’ll probably get them. Dang, I’m picky.

    My husband’s coffee, and my tea.

    Tires. I get the best we can afford. It makes me feel safer. 🙂

    Cat food! Fortunately this goes on sale sometimes, but my baby has to have her can of food every day.

    Maybe I’m not as bargain conscious as I thought?

  30. Merle Norman cosmetics. We have a pool and pool stuff is not on sale much and I have to buy it so….pool chemicals.

  31. Beef. We just bought a side of beef or the second time from a local farm….in a way it’s less expensive ($4/pound for filet mignon!) but also more expensive ($4/pound for ground beef!). It certainly is fab only having to buy beef once a year.

  32. I have to admit that I would like to say something indulgent like chocolate or face cream or something of that nature, but the honest answer is: tampons and condoms. There are just some things it’s not worth compromising.

  33. Had to laugh about the GS cookies. I am old, old enough to remember selling those boxes of cookies for $0.50 a box! I stood at those stands outside grocery stores with freezing wind blowing up my skirt and vowing I would NEVER refuse to buy cookies. Does anyone want to do the math of how much I have spent in the past 45 years making good on that vow? Sometimes it is just better not to do the math and keep going… this is one of those times.

  34. Car washes. I only go to one place. period. it’s expensive but I feel SO good driving away that it’s worth every penny even though I could do it myself or go somewhere else.

  35. My Bare Minerals make-up. I’ve never seen it on sale. I buy it when I need it, period. I love the way it’s natural and how it makes my face look. Luckily, I’ve find it now cheaper on base (not buy much, but still).

    Also, my son’s snacks/food. He’s a picky eater so I pay a lot for the the few things he eats that are better quality than the junk food it sometimes should be, or he thinks it is.

    And my hubby’s “toys”. He’s an impulse shopper and never tells me he needs this or that until he sees it and then just gets it. No shopping around, no looking for the best one, etc. It drives me crazy.

  36. Hotel rooms! I have stayed in some skeevy ones while trying to get a good deal and it just made me so unhappy. We travel so infrequently, that when we do, we insist on nice accomodations – like the Ritz! It’s worth it to feel pampered and clean and comfortable!

  37. starbucks for the man. sometimes he makes it at home, but still has to be starbucks. sigh

    diet coke for me. I stock up when on sale, but I invariably have to buy when it’s not on sale sometimes. painful but worth it.

    oh yes to the GS cookies, have a couple of those pushers in my house so we can’t avoid that.

    almost everything else is up for deals when I can!

  38. Blue Bell ice cream. I’d buy it even if it was $20 a carton instead of the usual $5.99. My husband splurges constantly though, if he’s not paying too much for something he thinks he must be getting a crappy product.

  39. Starbucks.

    And, yes, I was eating Thin Mints last night and decided to see how many were in the box. I actually asked my husband when they started only putting 14 in each sleeve (28 total). What a crock!

  40. Girl Scout cookies DEFINITELY go in the “money goes to a good cause” column… and of course, we always buy too many. I vowed to keep one box out and save the rest for White Elephant Christmas gifts this year… we will see how many are left by December. 🙂

    Olay products, full price (though I usually do pick up 2 when I have a P&G coupon); sexy-butt jeans (if they fit and make my booty look good, I don’t care how much my hubby has to pay); and Macaroni and cheese. The kids WILL NOT eat store brand stuff, so it’s worth the extra change to get what they like. Everything else, I’d better have a coupon or a code, or it’s waiting! 🙂

  41. Heinz catsup and philly cream cheese for sure.

  42. Milk–the milk I buy is $4.00/half gallon, but it’s worth it. Tampons–no generics for me. My hubby’s coffee, specially ground and from his favorite store. Good orange juice. Good clothes for my kids, they wear forever and take washing well. All Clad and Le Creuset, there’s really nothing like it, and they’ll last literally forever. I’m sure there are other things, I tend to have expensive taste. 🙂

  43. Local, organic milk and organic dairy. Local, organic chicken.

    Laura Mercier and Bobbi Brown makeup. $70 haircuts. (You said no judging.)

    I save so much money by forgoing Girl Scout cookies.

  44. Apple computers and cell phones and ipads and…whatever the heck they announce on Thursday. If loving them is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

  45. Vacations! I scrimp & save on everything else, so we can have the vacation we work so hard to get & deserve

  46. As a lifetime member of Girl Scouting, I have eaten my share of GS cookies, but I far prefer to make a donation directly to the troop I choose to support!

    I didn’t think I had many things in this category, but…

    Hotel rooms – it doesn’t have to be the Ritz/fancy, but I will definitely pay for a certain level of hotel.

    Brooks Brothers clothing for my husband – Elliot chino pants and non iron shirts – he doesn’t ask for much, and they hold up through wash and wash and look great with no ironing.

  47. Mir, did you see that the Steph the Crock Pot Lady has a recipe that is the equivalent of liquid Thin Mints? I’ve been drooling over it for a week, and can’t wait to make it.


    Along the same lines, the generic Peppermint Patties fall far short of the York brand name ones!

  48. Bras! I mean, I like it when they go on sale, but honestly, my brand and size is specific, and I’ve tried cheaper/off brand, but I am never happy with those.

    I bought a new one last week, though, bringing my total of good bras to 4, and the underwire on the older one promptly broke. Like it got pissed that I was bringing in someone new.


  49. Berger Cookies (Baltimore) – $5 for 9 cookies

  50. Good haircuts and color. I’ve learned from experience, nothing but time and a hat will cure a bad cut or color job.

    Also good bras, winter gear, and good ice cream.

  51. I’m mostly a coupon/bargain shopper, but there are a few food brands I stick with, no matter the price. On the other hand, there are some items that my family actually prefers the generic version of, so I guess I got lucky there!
    I am also always willing to pay full price on good shoes, good jeans, and good bras. Some things you just can’t compromise on!

  52. Oh, there’s lots of them:) My hairstylist, my Starbucks, and I have 10 boxes of girl scout cookies in my freezer (with 4 more boxes coming tomorrow).

  53. As a girl scout leader who still has 904 boxes of cookies in her garage, I thank you all of you who splurge on cookies from the bottom of my heart 🙂

    I guess dance classes for the girls is our big splurge, we do trade work when we can, but most months our tuition bill would make a grown man cry – that grown man being my husband 😉

  54. MiracleSuit swimsuits. I’m a chunkamunk, and they make me feel like a supermodel. They also never go on sale, and the kids and I swim at least three times a week. I’ve tried other suits, but they don’t make me feel good about myself, and I refuse to actively make myself feel bad twelve times a month. I buy two at a time and baby them so they’ll last.

  55. I have FOUR boxes of thin mints sitting in my freezer. I bought them to support my friends little girl, and since, my husband and I have went off of any food with hydrogenated anything. 🙁 I totally over paid…and there there have sat for 2 weeks calling my name!

  56. Thin Mints are my number #1 pity party item that I can’t have by having to eat gluten free too!! I will tell you….Free Range Cookies in St. Louis, MO makes a gluten free, dairy free one that knocks my socks off! (even better than the girl scout version if I thought that could be possible) And they ship….

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