Is That Clearance Dress Really a Bargain? The Add-On Costs of Stuff

BlogHer Original Post

What are the add-on costs of stuff, you might ask? Add-on costs are those small, unexpected costs that often accompany our purchases - but we don't think about them at the time. Although we might imagine each individual purchase as an one-off expense, the reality is that we may end up buying more things because of those purchases - and thus spending more money in the process. Add-on costs mean that the price tag on that new blouse or shoes or tech gadget isn't what you'd be really paying. 

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Here are some of the most common culprits of add-on costs:

Clothes: You may think a cute sheath dress from Banana Republic is a great deal (and by "you", I meant, me). After all, it's on sale for only $20, down from it's original price of $110! But look closely. If this dress doesn't fit you quite right - if the hem is too long, or the shoulders are too loose, or the sides need to be taken in, you will need to visit a tailor to make the appropriate alterations. Hemming, $5. Sides taken in: $20. Shoulders: $30. All of a sudden, your $20 dress has become $75 instead. That might still be a worthwhile price to you, but be sure to take that into account when you make the purchase. Also, note whether that dress is dry-clean only. If it is, be prepared for high dry-cleaning bills.

Shoes: Ladies' shoes, I've found, frequently require "add-on" costs because many times foot inserts or gel pads are needed to make our beloved heels more comfortable. I've purchased shoes for $30, only to realize that there is no way I can wear said shoes for more than 5 minutes without some sort of adjustment. Heel pads, $3. Insoles: $7. My shoes just increased in price by one-third. If you live in a colder climate, or if the bottoms of the shoes are very slick, you might need to go to the cobbler and get rubber soles put on your shoes. That can be another $15-$30.

Smart phones: I'm not just talking about the monthly plan - in fact, the add-on costs can be more insidious than you realize. Think about the iPhone and all the sub-$5 applications out there. You might get one, or two or three or ten. Those prices add up. Or perhaps you add on a data plan, or splurge for a more advanced version of the phone. Games are another money-hole. At just a dollar or two a game, it's a cheap indulgence... until you start add 10 or 20 games a month (true story - I know people who are avid iPhone gamers). A smart phone is convenient and stylish, but it is also plenty smart at taking money out of your pocket.  

Sometimes, there are no good ways to combat add-on costs. It's no fun wearing ill-fitting clothes or uncomfortable shoes, and if you only wanted an iPhone without the apps and frills, you'd get, well, a regular phone. But  it's important to take into account potential add-on costs when you are evaluating a purchase - the "can I afford it?" or "is this price worth it to me?" questions should be answered with add-on costs in mind. 

Ladies, can you think of other purchases require add-on costs?

Relevant LInks:

Adventures in Alterations: Taking in a Jacket [Alterations Needed]

The iPhone Decision [Madame X's Open Wallet]

The Frugality of Shoe Repair [Sound Money Matters] Savvy Living Through Personal Finance


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