I do a lot of focus groups, and they like to pay in large bills (or gift cards, which are actually worse). So once every couple of weeks I'll be walking around with a random hundred, trying to find somewhere appropriate to spend it (most recent surprise location: the garage at my doctor's office, where I paid for parking and got $95 back in change). I'm always super-embarrassed and apologetic about it ("Would you by any chance be able to break a hundred? You can??! Thank you so much. I'm so sorry.") It actually sounds like a pretty dumb thing to worry about when I see it written down like that.
We bought our guest room mattress at a mattress store (Mattress Firm - there's one on practically every corner in Atlanta). The key here is to let them know you're comparison shopping - "Oh, I was headed to Macy's to get a mattress but just thought I'd pop in to see what you have." We got an $800 queen mattress set for $500 bucks that way, plus a frame for $20 (usually $90) and delivery for $45 (typically another $90). Not one but TWO guests have commented on how comfortable it is, so I feel good about it. As for our own mattress, we wanted a king and wanted a nice one, but couldn't afford it so we...bought off Craigslist. Which is not something I'd do these days after the whole bedbug epidemic, but it was 2007 and we were broke and we got a six-month-old $2000 mattress for $500 and it is AWESOME. Better than any hotel bed I've ever been in. As for the frame, Craigslist all the way. People get rid of these all the time, and bedbugs don't live in wood or iron (I don't think?).
@sockhop Oh I love YDFM! Spent $72 there this weekend ($40 on a ton of fruits and veggies, and $32 on beef/fish/two six-packs that will last us a month). Then went to Publix yesterday and spent another $105 on staples you can't get at the farmer's market: cereal, toilet paper, granola bars, Zyrtec, etc. Sigh.
Mike, I'm consistently in awe of your grocery spending. How do you manage to keep it under $50 every week, especially in New York? Is it as simple as being a vegetarian? Or are you just a wizard? It's just my husband and I in Atlanta, and we still regularly spend $150 a week (and that's in addition to some dining out as well - usually one weekend brunch or dinner, plus 3-4 fast food meals between us). I shop from a list, use coupons, and visit different stores to take advantage of promotions, yet we're still regularly spending $600 a month. We eat meat but not a ton, and spend almost nothing on alcohol, so I'm not sure where to cut. What are you doing differently? I think we need a "How Mike Dang Does Groceries" feature.
@polka dots vs stripes Up and Up are usually pretty great, but stay away from their gummy vitamins. They *look* just like Vitafusion, but it's like trying to chew a dried out out jujube that's been at the bottom of your purse, in the backseat of the car, all summer long. Whereas the real Vitafusions are like delightful little gummy bears.
@faceifer Seconded to pie crusts. I once tried to save .50 with Publix pie crusts, and regretted it heartily. It's Pillsbury or nothing. Same with organic milk - the stores brands I've tried all taste like paper.
@stuffisthings I have no idea why it doesn't work as well - perhaps because of the inactive ingredients like ThatJenn suggests? I just know from experience that it doesn't. (Note: The one exception to this rule is generic ibuprofin, which is totally as good as Advil.) I've also had doctors who almost always prescribe generic meds, but in some specific cases request the name brand only, because in their experience it works better for more of their patients.
Hear, hear on the Nyquil! I don't give a damn what the active ingredient list says; CVS 'Daytime Cold/Flu' can't touch Dayquil in terms of effectiveness. My husband and I have this argument at least twice a year (which is an odd role reversal, as I'm generally the penny-pincher. But thrift flies out the window when I'm feeling like crap.). He's currently using generic Claritin and it's not helping him at all, and I make sympathetic noises but am secretly pleased because now he knows I'm RIGHT.
Oh no. No no no no no. I would not mention the money at all, in case they assume that means you’d be willing to give it back without a fight. Stress about it until the exit interview, and if *they* don't mention it at that point, I would assume they're not going to ask for it back. ps I doubt that clause is about people like you, by the way - it's probably for people they think intentionally screwed over the company, like someone who used the relocation bonus to move to a new city and then immediately quit to go work for a different company.
@sheistolerable Happy to help! Keep in mind that it isn't always up to the minute (I got a digest today that contained listings from 3 hours ago, 6 hours ago, and...Feb 15.). So if apartments in Boston are snapped up as fast as they do in other big cities, you'll want to stay on top of it too. But list-alert can't hurt! And it may come in verrrry handy when you're furnishing your new place.