On Only Suckers Don't Buy Generic

@clo That entire article is about testing early- it even specifies that by one week post-missed-period, "any home pregnancy test will do". Hcg levels double roughly every two days in early pregnancy, and even the least sensitive tests will measure positive at 100 mlU, while the most sensitive tests measure in the 20 range. So we're talking a matter of a few days of difference in effectiveness between available products- relevant for a few users, and if you're one of those users, definitely worth the extra money. But at a markup of 300-400% over less expensive tests, not worth it for every customer. And price is also not a clear indicator for sensitivity- some of the most sensitive tests are generic, and some of the most expensive tests aren't very sensitive. I just get exasperated at the number of people who come to the ER because they "can't afford" a pregnancy test, and when it's mentioned that you can buy a pregnancy test at Dollar General, tell us that "they don't trust a Dollar General pregnancy test". And then it turns out they're already three months along and a Dollar General test definitely would have worked *just* fine vs a $500 ER visit that they can't afford (and for which we used a pregnancy test no better in quality than commercial ones). It's frustrating that pregnancy test manufacturers play on peoples' anxiety to buy the best in that situation to jack up their prices way beyond actual costs, often without delivering any additional value to the consumer.

Posted on July 24, 2014 at 5:10 pm 0

On Expenses Relating to My Wedding That I Couldn’t Possibly Have Anticipated

I packed, but then forgot the entire bag containing, all my toiletries (including my makeup and brushes, which are all of a quality that can't be replaced at the drugstore/overnight without bankrupting myself) the night before my wedding. My amazing, amazing maid of honor drove back to my apartment from the venue, almost two hours round trip, to pick up the forgotten bag before I even woke up the morning of. Did I mention how amazing she is?

Posted on July 24, 2014 at 11:59 am 2

On Only Suckers Don't Buy Generic

@clo Pregnancy tests come in a range of sensitivities to hcg- if you're planning on testing very early, before your missed period, a very sensitive test is better, but the most expensive test available isn't always the most sensitive. The accuracy levels you cite are almost certainly referring to how likely the test is to detect pregnancy at the earliest possible testing stage, when hcg has just surpassed normal background levels, not accuracy overall- ie, the particular Target test you looked at might be only 84% accurate at detecting pregnancy 3 days before your first missed cycle because it's slightly less sensitive to hcg, while that particular name brand test is 99% accurate at that stage. But that difference disappears the later you test, so for women who are testing later, there is no difference in quality or accuracy between most tests. Also, you can find pregnancy tests in a range of sensitivities at all price points- there's a Walmart Equate brand test that's almost as sensitive as e.p.t. (25 mlU vs 20 mlU) and there are name-brand tests that cost a lot with digital displays that aren't especially sensitive at all (Clear Blue Digital springs to mind). Once you account for sensitivity, the price difference are entirely based on packaging, marketing, and things like the type of results display (two lines vs a digital smiley face, for instance). TL;DR version: If you're looking for the earliest possible result, google the tests available and buy the one with the highest sensitivity to to hcg, which may or may not be the most expensive one available. But if you're planning on testing after a missed cycle, spending more does not get you better results- just better packaging/fancier displays.

Posted on July 24, 2014 at 10:23 am 0

On Label Whoring at Thrift Town

I laughed so much reading this, and you made me miss living somewhere with good thrifting. Growing up in Chicago, I was spoiled by the crazy stuff people gave to thrift stores- my lunch money bought so many dresses I could never have afforded new, sometimes still with tags! In my little southern town now, it's all three wolf moon shirts and poly blend suits, all the time. I hope you're going to be a regular contributor.

Posted on July 11, 2014 at 11:11 pm 0

On Concerning Inflation, Pants, and Getting Old

@Gef the Talking Mongoose I always read advice like this and have a burst of "I should buy high-quality things that will rarely if ever wear out!" enthusiasm. And then I remember that I'm an absent-minded klutz with dogs, and that the majority of my purchases are not in replacement of a thing that wore out, but a thing that I lost, damaged beyond salvation, or that the dogs chewed to shreds, and I keep on buying cheap stuff. =(

Posted on July 11, 2014 at 2:41 pm 3

On Concerning Inflation, Pants, and Getting Old

@Allison We are! Or rather, the seller is getting one and passing it along to us, but we will maintain it. I lived in a house owned by family for a while in college and thankfully had a warranty. So relieved it existed when I had to call a plumber on a Saturday.

Posted on July 11, 2014 at 2:10 pm 0

On Account Joined

I also freaked out slightly internally at being added to my husband's account, even though it made more sense since he has access to USAA which has much better service than a regular bank. I had started to get used to it, but I am accustomed to being the one who knows more about Doing Things With Money and yesterday I stopped by their service center (which looks like a regular bank but doesn't do anything involving cash) to deposit a savings bond I had found while packing and the nice lady at the front desk told me that they don't do that since they aren't a traditional bank. She was really polite and she told me where I could do it but it still made me feel like an idiot kid. Minor identity crisis in the USAA lobby ftw.

Posted on July 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm 0

On Concerning Inflation, Pants, and Getting Old

Housing costs as inscrutable magical realism... yes. God yes. Excuse me, I have to go back to rocking in the corner and whimpering in preparation for closing on our first house next week.

Posted on July 11, 2014 at 1:36 pm 1

On Who Lives In All Those Fancy Condos? Human Props & Nobody

"Added Bob, later, after dinner: "I think that's something I won't forget, when I'm wealthy again." Clearly this pastor/McDonald's shift manager who has already lost one large inheritance and uprooted his family repeatedly in order to maintain the external trappings of wealth has learned some valuable lessons on economic realities from his experience. I'm sure he'll be back in black any minute now.

Posted on July 11, 2014 at 12:10 pm 0

On Cars, Houses, And other Millennial Milestones

I almost bought my last car using this technique, but then actually driving the car I had selected on the day I was going to buy it revealed that it drove like a particularly underpowered toaster oven, and I felt like I was going to die trying to make it through intersections. So I had to start over. Edit to add: "invoice price" is the price everyone involved in the transaction pretends the dealer paid for the car, but it is the invoice price before all kinds of discounts and incentives offered to the dealer by the manufacturer, which are not listed on the invoice, and which are the reason why many car deals DO go below invoice price. It does not require wizardry to achieve this. Basically this is an okay guide to buying a car if your primary goal is to avoid talking to them in person and secondary goal is an okay price (and I understand why that would be the order of goals for many people), but if you value the price or the quality of the actual car first, you should not follow it strictly.

Posted on July 11, 2014 at 11:47 am 1