It's not just about curbing our spending in a recession. It's also boasting about our savvy shopping "savings."
But why should I have all the fun of savoring the money these frugal folks saved? To spread the wealth, or lack of it, I stopped random people and had them share their favorite steals. Here goes.
Jane Pratt, 48, retired mother of three (with John Clarke, 52), visiting from Holmes Beach, Fla.
Tell me about your favorite bargain. "He bought this hat for $80 to wear in his Mercedes convertible. It was the cheapest one they could find at Nordstrom, but it wasn't on sale. He'd been looking for one for a while."
That's not exactly a steal. Have you got some great buys to boast about? "I bought this purse (on her shoulder) for me and one for my sister. It was $175, and I got it for $40 at Beau Rivage, the casino in Biloxi. We're heading to the Billy Goat for lunch, where we always eat when we come to Chicago, and then we're heading for the airport. And I saw snow for the fourth time in my life!"
Glad someone is excited about the snow.
Kyena Butler, 34, law firm case assistant, mother of three, of the Southeast Side
What's in her bag? A$298 black leather Kenneth Cole purse that she got for 50 percent off. She's a Kenneth Cole fanatic (even her glasses are Kenneth Cole). "I love their handbags. I shop there a lot, so they gave me a half-off coupon."
Lessons learned:If you're a faithful shopper at one store, ask for frequent buyer coupons and discounts.
Other recent savings to brag about? "MAC cosmetics just had 25 percent off, online."
How else does she save? She and her spouse work different shifts so they don't need to pay for day care for their 9-month-old; shop at Aldi for grocery basics; take public transportation, not cabs; bring a bag lunch to work; pay yearly Catholic school tuition upfront for a discount.
Timothy Leon Rogers, 20, looking for a job, of Hyde Park
His bargain finds? "I haven't been shopping at all this year. A lot of window shopping for a gift list for my birthday. When I have money [I buy] Nike Dunks and any jeans by True Religion or Rock & Republic. They were on sale at Nordstrom. I know what's out there!"
Favorite shopping spots? "Target for anything. Nordstrom and Bloomies. Zara."
Erica Vukelich, 31, does marketing for a real estate firm, expecting her first baby May 18, of Wrigleyville
Any bargains in those (Nordstrom and Macy's) bags? "No, I'm just returning one gift and exchanging boots for a different size. But I did just order a bunch of maternity stuff online at gap.com. I spent about $350—but it was 35 percent off regularly priced clothes and 15 percent off stuff that was already reduced. I'll probably return about $150 of it."
Will that be your entire maternity wardrobe?"Well, with that order I got about five pairs of pants—they have tall maternity, which I need—and two sweaters and two shirts. But I've also borrowed a lot of stuff."
Lenore Wineberg, 69, professor of early childhood education at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, of Wilmette
Tell me about your savings! "My favorite bargain is a sweater at Carson's, a maroon sweater. It was $7.98. The original price was $40 or $50."
And what brought you out to the mall today? "I just got a federal grant, so I wanted to treat myself [with lunch at] Joe's [Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab] and buying my funky watch. It was $104.90, reduced from about $125 at Nordstrom."
Niki Turke, 48, registered nurse, mother of adult sons ages 29 and 26 (with her husband Kuldip, peering out from the parka), of Munster, Ind.
Did you score any good Nordstrom buys today? "I like Ralph Lauren, so I got one jacket, one sweater and two pants at 40 percent off. We don't have a Nordstrom in Indiana. And two Armani lipsticks. They weren't on sale."
And what about bargains for your sons? (Laughing) "They can buy their own!"