Saturday, September 28, 2019

Things I Found Worthwhile Buying While Abroad

When I had to go to the US earlier this month to take care of financial matters, I had to decide if I wanted to do any shopping while there. I feel like so often people who go abroad go shopping just for the sake of shopping, and then they say they saved money by shopping, but I know that buying things for the sake of buying them, even if their cheap, is still more than not buying anything at all. And that's why I don't usually shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday or Prime Day or 11.11 day, because unless I actually need something, there's no point buying it just because its on sale.

And so, I really thought long and hard about whether or not to be shopping while in the US.
What would be worth getting? It only would be worth getting if it was something I would be getting anyhow, something on my to do list to buy, and it just is cheaper to buy there.

At first, I didn't plan on doing much shopping, since I was only bringing a small carry on suitcase and a backpack.
Therefore, I stuck to things that were small and compact and worth the price.

My old computer that I use daily for work hasn't been working properly for a while already, both the hardware and the software. I already had to wipe the hard drive and start over, and even with that it wasn't working well. I knew that I'd need to buy a new computer in the near future, and since computers and electronics in general are so much cheaper in the US, I figured out the criteria I needed in a work computer, and then price compared heavily through all the websites that I knew sold electronics cheaply for a computer with those qualifications, and bought one. PS, it ended up being Amazon that sold what I needed cheapest, next cheapest was Walmart, and New Egg was actually more expensive, surprisingly enough.

Not having a home phone, I'd thought long and hard about getting a home assistant, and doing research about them, whether Amazon's Echo Dot or Google Assistant or others, I found that the Echo Dot was the best with the features I wanted, including being able to make phone calls and receive phone calls, so I got that.

As I wrote before, I also went to Goodwill, because finding good quality larger sized clothing where I live is difficult, not to mention expensive, and fortunately I got a nice score there.

Another thing I really wanted was underwear. Again, larger sizes are very hard to find locally, I feel like I'm always wearing stuff that are too small, and they're extremely overpriced. I bought a bunch of packs of Hanes at Walmart (they were cheapest), also for now and also for the future.

Makeup is another thing I bought. I price compared for the cheapest I could find at Walmart, and bought those. Makeup locally is extremely overpriced and the cheap stuff you can buy is worse quality than the Walmart stuff.

Lastly, I bought bras. Bras are really difficult to find locally in my size, and are really, really, really expensive. I do buy online from for cheaper, but they still aren't so cheap, and they also mean that I can't try them on beforehand. When at Walmart, I managed to find 2 bras my size (even there wasn't so easy!) and one was 8 dollars, the other 1 dollar on clearance! Definitely a worthwhile buy!

This was going to be all the shopping I was going to do in the US: small, light, compact things that have a tremendous price difference between what is sold in the US and where I live, and things I was going to buy anyhow, and had been thinking about for a while.

And then my bestie Michelle interfered.

She told me that I needed to go shoe shopping. She's known over the years how shoe shopping makes me cry, because I can never find what I want in a size I like, and end up wearing men's shoes most of the time, and the one company I found with shoes my size doesn't have much selection, is far from me, and is expensive. She told me that I wasn't leaving Cleveland without buying shoes.

She was right.

I did need shoes. And that was something that was much cheaper in the US than locally.

She took me first to TJ Max but they had nothing my size. Then she took me to Nordstrom Rack. Which is all really high quality name brand shoes, being sold at a discount.

I was in shoe heaven.

Rows and rows and rows of beautiful shoes my size. All good quality and beautiful. And all at a fraction of the price of the shoe store where I can find shoes my size locally. I went through them to try to pick the one shoe that I'd buy and bring with me, and then tried on so many beautiful and amazing shoes and I really couldn't narrow it down, nor did I want to.
My friend Michelle told me that I should consider not just buying one pair, but a few, not just for now, but for the future too, since I have no plans on coming back to the US in the near (or even somewhat distant) future, so might as well stock up. But the thing is, I only had one carry on suitcase and one backpack, and buying more shoes would mean needing to buy a suitcase and pay for checked luggage on my flight home from England.
I did the math and calculated how much I am paying less per shoe by buying them at Nordstrom Rack vs buying them at the one local store that has shoes my size, and we figured out that even buying two pairs of shoes in the US vs locally, the amount of money saved is already the amount that covers the fee for the suitcase. So then I decided to buy "all the shoes", aka I picked the shoes that I really loved and are beautiful and fit me well and are comfortable and no two that were exactly the same, but each a somewhat different style. 6 shoes that I loved and would be an investment for the future.
And then I saw one pair of shoes that I was in love with. A style that I've been in love with for years and years and years, and haven't been able to find, despite searching all over the internet. A style I had in the past but couldn't find anymore, anywhere. But despite being on the size 12 rack, they were size 9! What a letdown! I asked a worker if he could possibly look to see if they had it in my size, and with baited breath I waited, and eventually he came back with the only pair my size.
So 7 pairs of dress shoes is what I got.

I did try to get good supportive everyday shoes for myself, because the sneakers that I wear daily are really expensive locally, since I need ones that are good and supportive for over supination, and I assumed that those would be cheaper in the US, but by the time I made the decision to buy some shoes, I could only go with what they had locally, and Nordstrom Rack didn't have any sneakers that are good for over supination so I decided to skip that.

I found some inserts for plantar fascitis, which I bought, since they were cheap and I don't even know where to buy them locally.

I found a really cheap large suitcase in Walmart in the clearance aisle, and once I found that, and made the decision to bring that with me, I decided to fill it with other things that I'd already wanted, and would be buying anyhow, but are just cheaper in the US.

So I wrote already about my pressure canner. So excited about that.

Then I found some good quality scooters on sale for my boys. It was their birthday in early September and they'd talked about wanting good scooters, so I bought them, after making sure they'd fit in my suitcase together with the canning pot.

And lastly, my girls love Barbies, but name brand Barbies are hideously overpriced here, and all of the somewhat cheaper but still expensive knock offs are such terrible quality that they break within five seconds. So when I saw brand name Barbies being sold for just a few dollars I knew I was getting them. I ended up getting both girls matching pink haired mermaid barbies, and then also I found some more "diverse" Barbies, and ended up getting one with a larger body, and another with a prosthetic leg, because I appreciated the more "real" bodies.

I'm quite happy with all my purchases, especially because I know none of them were things that I bought "just because" but because they'd actually have a lot of use in my house and were things I'd be buying anyhow, I just got them at a better price than I could have gotten locally.

When you go abroad, what do you stock up on and why?


  1. So glad you found some bargains!! I think it's totally worth it for you to do this - how much fun to arrive home to see the kids and unpack all the goodies!! That's probably the best part.

  2. Please post pictures of you modeling your beautiful new shoes.

  3. I know that you will be fine for a while now with 7 pairs.However, for future consideration if there are good brands available internationally with consistent sizing could you order from abroad or have someone send them to you? I am thinking of Rohyd and Land's End as a couple of examples. Well done on your well-considered purchases and I am glad that you seem to have such a fun and profitable trip.


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