Here’s Why You’re Broke: You’re Picky

Here's Why You're Broke You're Picky - picture of woman's legs with hot pink heels and hot pink purse

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We all have a favorite type of salad dressing, right? For me, it’s Ken’s Honey French.  There’s just something about its flavor and texture that I haven’t found with other brands.  Hell, I’d take a bath in it if Greg would let me, and I dip everything in it- even French fries!

With that being said, I will not buy it if it’s not on sale– the full retail price is $3.99!  So I have a few options- a) I can stock up on Ken’s Honey French when it’s on sale, or b) I can buy a different French dressing when it’s not.

I usually go with option A.

Being Picky is Okay if You Think Ahead

Being picky isn’t that big of a deal if you’re willing to plan for it.  Like my situation with Ken’s ooey-gooey Honey French dressing, for example.  I might have ten bottles of that pure-gold deliciousness in my pantry at any given time because I sure as hell don’t want to pay full retail.

There are plenty of other ways to save money if you’re picky about specific brands too.  Let’s say you only like Coach purses <insert eye roll here> and insist on getting each new design as it comes out.  In my eyes, you have a few options:

  • You could wait until each new design goes on sale and buy it at a discount
  • You could look for a used one on ebay or Craigslist
  • You could buy a  knockoff- maybe a “Couch” purse or even a “Cooch”  (*Don’t laugh, I have a Goochie)

The point is, you can be picky and save money if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.  Unfortunately, it appears that most people aren’t.

Here’s Why You’re Broke: You’re Picky

Facebook can be a goldmine if you’re looking for examples of financial recklessness.  In fact, there are days when my news feed reads like a transcript from a credit counseling agency.  A few updates that made me shake my head these last few weeks (I’m paraphrasing here):

“I can’t believe I just paid a month’s rent for the new iphone, LOL.”

“Look at my Tiffany bracelet.  He loves me!” (from a girl who was complaining that she didn’t have a job a few days earlier)

“I would rather walk or ride a scooter than drive a minivan.”

I find these types of comments troubling because they tend to come from people who don’t appear to have their financial lives together.  You know the type- they’re broke, yet have nicer stuff than you do.

Open Your Mind, Not Your Wallet

The good news is, you don’t have to be picky.  Instead of obsessing over every new product that comes out or your favorite brands, consider branching out.  Try generic versions of your favorite products, or look for ways to buy stuff that has already been gently used by someone else.  Or try something revolutionary- avoid buying anything that you don’t absolutely need.  Chances are, life will go on.

On the other hand, being frugal doesn’t always mean going without; sometimes it just means finding creative ways to save money on things you were going to buy anyway.  And if you’re broke, the best thing you can do is let all of that go and make each purchase with an open mind.

Being picky can destroy your potential for wealth, but it only strikes if you let it.

Do you know someone who is broke because they are picky? 

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  1. Nope, l do not. I must be doing something wrong as far as fb is concerned. My newsfeed is all news, news, and more news. I don’t have friends that put their business out there, save for one cousin who always berates her friends when they show off. Needless to say, the voyeur in me loves to read her rants 🙂 . That being said, l loved Ken’s dressing and a French one who’s name escapes me. It was expensive but worth it to me. As l got older, l got less picky.

    1. Let’s trade Facebook feeds. Mine is a hot mess! =)

  2. Being picky helps me a lot in some particular way. Picky in a sense that whatever buying decision I make must be of great advantage. Like getting items on Ebay, being picky can save you a lot of money. Just use “picky” in a positive way.

    1. That is a great point. People who are extremely picky might not buy much at all.

  3. I’m all about the generics! My favorite color is “whatever’s on sale” and my favorite flavor is “cheapest.” I had to get over the notion that I needed to buy the same shampoo, toothpaste, vitamins, etc every time. Now, I just buy whatever’s cheapest at Costco. So far so good–no teeth or hairs have fallen out.

  4. I’m less and less picky as I get older. Having brand names or the latest and the greatest just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. The pleasure you get, if any, from buying a new fancy purse or gadget wears off so quickly. It’s just not worth it.

    1. Yeah, I agree. The only feeling I get when I buy something new is guilt!

  5. For the most part, I am not picky. I will buy generic brands ( I just stocked up on Kroger’s Private Selection brand yesterday). However, there are things I’m not willing to compromise on that are staples in our house. For those items, I’ll use coupons, wait for sales, and stock up.

    1. I love Kroger’s Private Selection brands! I always seem to get coupons in the mail for those too.

  6. Someone who is truly picky won’t have multiple coach purses. Picky also means being willing to go without if something doesn’t meet your high standards. I think you’re talking about champaign taste on a beer budget. Just being picky actually saves money because although you buy high quality, you buy less stuff and you hold onto it longer. Pickiness is not orthogonal to frugality.

    1. I think there are several shades of picky. The picky I’m talking about would go ahead and buy the $3.99 French dressing because they refuse to try any other kinds. I’m not really talking about champagne taste on a beer budget, although that’s never a good thing either.

      1. Well, we wouldn’t buy Ken’s because we’re too picky– that’s one of the HFCS brands, and since going off HFCS a decade ago I can’t stand the taste of it in large quantities. We buy more expensive dressing (a local poppyseed dressing that DH and DC1 like in the refrigerator aisle) or make dressing ourselves (which is generally less expensive).

        But we have champagne taste on a champagne budget so we’re doing ok.

    2. Yup, this is me. I *just* replaced a nine year old hair dryer. I had no idea it wasn’t working very well anymore. Why replace what isn’t broken? I wait to replace a purse until it breaks and why have more than one? Sure, I’ve started buying nicer ones than I used to, but that should hopefully mean they’ll keep for longer and I’ll still only have one! I held onto my previous cell phone for about 2.5 years, far past the point that many of my other friends would have kept using their cell phones and then I managed to get a new one for Christmas instead of having to buy it myself! I’m so picky about things sometimes it can take forever to actually find the right item.

  7. I’m currently without my favorite peanut butter because I didn’t stock up when it was on sale and I refuse to buy it at the regular price!

  8. I used to desire name brands a lot more when I was younger- ironically, when I was in a much worse financial situation. Thank goodness I got over that phase! These days we buy most things generic, especially medicines (generic meds are soooo much cheaper at the pharmacy than name brands!!!)

  9. I don’t think I know anyone who’s too picky that is impacts their budget. We have certain brand favorites when it comes to food items, but stock up when on sale or use coupons. I think being debt free gives you a bigger edge in this area because you have more ability to take advantage of deals when they come up.

    1. Oh, I totally agree. I can buy 20 things of peanut butter when it’s on sale because I can afford to. That makes it easier to save in the long run.

  10. We’re pretty flexible when it comes to food options but like you said it’s mainly driven by cost. DH has a fave cereal (Oatmeal Crisp-Almond) but it goes for $5+ retail which is insane. We managed to find it through Amazon and pay $23 for a pack of 6 boxes which is $3.80/box and 2 day shipping is included since we’re Prime members. If we hadn’t have found that option, my DH would have had to find a replacement cereal.

    1. I love Fiber One and force myself to go to Walmart to buy it every few months. It is $1.50 less per box there for some reason.

  11. Actually, I know more people who are broke because they are not picky. They get anything and everything without regard to the value – or lack thereof – that they are getting. They buy 10 purses at Target or K-mart that wear out after a year or two instead of buying one Coach purse that lasts for 20 years….which I have done, and am still carrying that purse from time to time.

    1. Yeah, I’m sure it goes both ways. Some people probably need to be pickier with what they spend their money on!

  12. Mr PoP’s ridiculously picky, but that’s a good thing since he tends to want very few things (but only high quality things). I’m starting to become more that way too – picky to the point of rather having nothing than having a cheaper substitute.

    1. Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says:

      Lol, my mom raised me the same way! Growing up with a single mom in high school, she’d just rather buy nothing if she could not afford the better quality item. I finally got her to break down and buy a quality printer (something I needed for school) and she still felt bad. To this day, I am better about realizing I didn’t need it versus settling for a cheaper substitute.

  13. I can totally relate this one Holly! When the iPhone 6 was going to launch, all I need on my FB news feed is that they are saving for that phone or posting their expensive things! *sigh*

    1. Oh yeah, tired of hearing about people paying $600 for a stupid phone!

  14. Not really picky here. My wife does love the Ken’s Honey Mustard, and still prefers that over any others. But that is it – a preference. We won’t die grabbing another brand while we wait for Ken’s to go back on sale! But for the most part… generic and sales, that is the way to go!

    1. Mmmmm….I love their honey mustard too. And ranch.

  15. I would say I’m picky but it ends up manifesting itself in different ways. I’m picky about NOT paying retail for food or clothes (which saves $) but I’m picky about having a high quality haircut because my hair is difficult to cut well (which costs $).

    1. I cannot bring myself to buy new clothes anymore. I’ve been spoiled with garage sale prices!

  16. Yes, I have a relative who feels entitled to the best of everything despite being a lifelong financial wreck and unemployed. She uses Facebook as a charity play, and then posts pics of the things that her friends give her – bottles of wine, baked goods, groceries, free monthly haircuts. And now, she posted about her new iPhone 6 that she just had to have because it was “free” with a new 2 year contract. I just shake my head at each new post and restrain myself from commenting.

  17. I have a few favorite things but I don’t think it’s sending me to the poor house. I do have a couple friends who post a lot of travel pics who I know make very little money…and I wonder how that’s possible, but in the end I focus on keeping my side of the street clean.

    1. Ha! Good idea =) Maybe they are using points and miles for their travel…or going into credit card debt =/

  18. I only buy when things are on sale, so I’d do the same and stock up if something we absolutely love is going for a decent price. Otherwise, I’m not afraid to try generic, or something else that I happen to have a coupon for. Sale prices have been so disappointing lately, I’ve been leaning more toward stocking up!

    1. It seems like all grocery prices are on the uptick, although we’ve had some really good sales here recently.

  19. Oh I can relate to this so much! I’ve had to be tight with our budget for our family of five, so I took grocery shopping to a whole new level. I now buy generic everything as much as possible, and I can’t believe I paid more for what seems like the same thing (with a few exceptions).

    I also like to buy new clothes from a particular store, but I refuse to buy anything from there unless it’s 40% off, only because I know they have those sales and I’d feel really dumb for buying something from there even if it was 25% off.

    Next I have to convert and buy makeup at the drugstore instead of the name brand while we’re still tight with money. I’m guessing I’ll probably have the same positive experience.

    1. I wear the cheap stuff from the grocery store. I’ve never really paid for expensive makeup so I probably don’t know what I’m missing. Ha!

  20. What about when you buy everything generic, on sale with coupons, and still broke? I haven’t bought a new pair of shoes in 6 years and the few clothes I bought are from the thrifts store. We have no cable, no TV, no subscriptions, no memberships; just loads of student loan debts, rent, utilities, internet and close to extreme couponing food shopping. And somehow, with a husband that works full time, and me almost full time, we are still a month to month kinda family. Seriously, how???? does this get better?

    1. It sounds like you need to earn more money! Honestly. I hate to give such a generic answer, but earning more money is sometimes the only way to get out of the rut you’re in.

    2. Hello,
      I read your comment and couldn’t help but reply to it if you wouldn’t mind some pointers that have worked for me over the years.
      -Do you eat out? That includes the morning coffee from the local Dunkies. This may sound extreme but anything that I consume I always make sure it comes from my house including morning coffee. And when I feel like having a DD coffee or donut I wait six months to “treat” myself if I crave it. It makes it seem like a special occasion for having gone without for so long.
      -Try allocating $100 for groceries per person per month. I know it seems extreme. And start bulk and freezer cooking once a week (I usually do mine on Sundays).
      -Unplug chargers and appliances from outlets if not in use. Trust me helps with the electric bills.
      -Apply the 50/30/20 budgeting system if possible and if the saving part is not feasible chuck it for now till you get comfortable financially (lord knows I did for a while).
      Hope some of these help.

  21. I dont think I will go to that organic, gluten free, expensive stuff route until I am debt free. For now, I am content spending my money on generic brands for the basic things.

  22. Love this article! Especially your point about knowing people who are broke, but have nicer stuff. The only think I will splurge on is shampoo. My hair is long and thick and I *swear* I owe some of that to how I wash it. But like you said, I always save up for that when I know it’s running low! 😉

  23. I think what you said holds true. My preference is to choose items I’m willing to spend a few dollars on and then cut everything else. We buy organic milk for example, but you will rarely see us buy any fruit, vegetable, or sandwich meat that is not on sale.

  24. My wife has the same affinity for Ken’s and we go through the same thing. She either buys as much as we can store in the pantry when it’s on sale or she buys a generic version which is often half (if not more) the price. I think for a few select items the name brand might be better, but by and large the generic is going to be just as good if not better – not to mention I’d rather have the money in our bank account. We have a few family members who’re picky and expect to have certain things. They have some nice things, better than us in many instances, but are far worse off than us.

  25. I’m picky when it comes to food; I’ll readily admit to it. 🙂 I prefer organic fruits and vegetable and I only eat fish. At the same time, I can afford those things and look for good deals to help stretch my budget. Some people unfortunately have a huge entitlement attitude and it gets them into financial trouble. There are definitely brands that I prefer, but I look for sales and if I can’t afford something – I don’t buy it and wait until I can.

  26. If you want to see picky, come watch about a third of my patients pick out glasses. I have a certain style that I like and will usually stick too, and I think that’s fine, but paying an extra $100+ for your frames to say Coach or Gucci is crazy. They are all owned by the same company for the most part anyway. Maybe we should see if they have a Cooch line of frames!

  27. Ben Luthi says:

    My mom will only buy hand soap at Bath and Body Works. As delicious as the smells are, it just isn’t worth all that money down the drain.

  28. What is it with Ken’s and honey that’s so very good? (Ken’s Honey Balsamic is the favorite in my house.) I am not so picky with brands anymore, however my wife plans to stock up on some of the brands she likes when they’re a good deal. But we both know people who are broke because they’re picky and it just makes no sense at all.

  29. Right, the Facebook bragger. I would love it if FB added a net worth calculator after each of those post. To show all your friends how much debt they just went into for that bracelet! Is this just me?

    I keep an open mind about most food and generic brands, except for cereal. The stores version is never the same. Are “crisp 6” really worth the extra $1 in savings over crispix?!

  30. Ok. I’ll admit it, I’m picky about a few things, but to pay for that stuff I’m really frugal with the rest. I guess you just need to prioritize. Those people that can’t prioritize and want it all are the ones that end up broke.

  31. You sound very sensible when it comes to buying Ken’s Honey French only when it’s on sale. That takes a level of discipline that I don’t always have. Especially if the cost is under $5, I often think, “Big deal!” But of course it is a big deal – because that way of thinking impacts every purchase. And the extra $1 here or $2 there adds up. For me, the bad decisions often come when emotions come into play. Comfort food, for instance, can be pricey. (But SO delicious – and comforting!)

  32. I know someone who is broke but not in their purchases, it is in their jobs. They are extremely picky with their career choices and therefore they are really limited in what they can do. They are stuck in a dead end job in an industry that doesn’t see much growth just because they are picky about their next career move

  33. I am not that picky and I think that helps with my finances. I don’t understand people who are so stuck with name brand items, especially purses. I’m very utilitarian in that way. I do have my preferences for some things, so long as it does not break the bank.

  34. A friend of mine only drinks Champagne, not sparkling wine, let alone beer. At $30 minimum a bottle, several times a week there are Champagne flutes on his FB page. Then he complains he has to work 60 hour weeks and barely makes ends meet. “But I couldn’t make it through the day if I didn’t know there was Champagne at the end!”.

  35. I don’t have brand or anything preference really, for much of anything – I think most brands are the same and I could probably make something fr scratch better. But pickiness can probably cost a lot more.

  36. I am so glad that I am not the only person thinking this. I have friends who complain all the time about how they have no money but when they shop they have no idea how to spend. Buying all the latest things and brand names when they could get something that is cheaper .In my area we have places that sell items that are brand name for half the price but many people think they are to good for the store. But I find the more I shop this way the more I can enjoy more spending money on a limited budget

  37. Love this post and it’s so true. It seems to always be the ones who are “broke” who are also picky or buying expensive things. So annoying!

  38. How about searching online for copycat recipes for your salad dressing 🙂

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