shopping free

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve discovered that, for me, emotional shopping presents an obstacle to good money management.  I’ve never had a shopping addiction but I’ve definitely bought plenty of things I didn’t need or even like that much, which is dumb.  To combat this tendency, I’m practicing leaving stores empty-handed, or at least sticking strictly to my list if I have one.  Now if I buy something I didn’t plan ahead of time to buy, it’s usually because I’ve found a match to something on my ongoing-search list, like a dressy blouse or a fall-colored scarf.

One of the ways I’ve practiced what Dave Ramsey calls “power over purchase” is with Kohls gift cards.  For some reason I get $10.00 gift cards in the mail from time to time.  I try to stay within the $10.00 limit because otherwise the store wins: they get me to make a purchase I didn’t plan for.  And in all likelihood it will be for something poorly made that I didn’t need in the first place.

For me to win, I have to get out without spending any of my own money.  Once I couldn’t find anything I liked so I gave the card to a stranger in the parking lot.  She didn’t know what to think.  Another time, my search was fruitful and I got two shirts for free.  I wouldn’t have bothered with their trendy pattern if not for the coupon.  (And yes, my seamstress friend was able to fix the one that had bad stitching!)   This time I decided that instead of tops, I wanted a belt.  I thought for $10.00 a belt–singular–was all I would get.

punched faux leather beltBut I found this faux-leather one and this nautically-knotty one, which snaps closed in the back and is a bit corsety.  My receipt cheerily announced that I saved $56.00 on this purchase, which ultimately rang up, not for $10.00, but for $8.60.  {insert gleeful chortle here}  Want to hear the original prices?  For the leather belt:$30.00; for the woven belt: $26.00.  (See it in another outfit in this post.)

four-color woven snap-back beltThis shopping trip reinforced a two-part principle I’ve noticed as I’ve tried to learn more responsible shopping habits.  Part I: Pricing is a game.  I think of the MSRP as a prank–one far too many people fall for.  Part II: When I can smile good-naturedly and cross my arms, refusing to reach out for the lovely item at full price, the store eventually quits bluffing and puts the item on sale for a more realistic price.  Yes, my patience wears them down every time.

So you don’t think I’m all high and mighty, I’ll level with you: I do buy some things at less-than-ideal prices.  I recently decided that fleece pants would make my autumn/winter more enjoyable, so I bought two pairs at Target “on sale” for $16.99 each.  The original price was $19.99.  In my book that’s not really a score–but I didn’t want to wait.  I paid for instant gratification.  I think that’s okay if it fits the budget and isn’t an impulse buy.  My fleece-pants purchase was made possible by another purchase that day–these house slippers from Payless Shoes:

$10 house slippers

Last year I resolved to buy house slippers because I was tired of having cold feet.  It seems to me that cold air collects under my desk and table, the places I usually sit in the evenings when I craft or blog.  I found the Airwalk moccasins and thought, “My search is over.”  They were slightly trendy but not too skater-punk.  They were cozy but also practical, with rubber soles that could stand up to a dash outside.  They cost $30.00, which isn’t sky-high, but I know Payless and assumed the price would improve.  I thought I’d be a freaking genius and wait until after Christmas to buy them.  I’d have money and they’d be on sale; it would be perfect.  Except what happened instead was that I had money and they were out of stock.  Forever.

Or so it seemed in 2011.  This year I went back to try to fall in love with something else and there these were…the only pair in the store…in my size.  Better yet, they were marked as being on sale for $12.00.  Even better yet, at the register the cashier informed me that they were now on sale for $10.00!  Since I didn’t use all the money I’d budgeted for shoes I was able to adjust my fleece-pants spending upward while staying within budget.  So I’m happy–from tops to toes!

How about you?  Have you practiced, or maybe even perfected, any patient shopping strategies?  What helps you exercise power over purchase?

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1 Comment

  1. Now that I’m “older”, the belts have been put away for quite a few years, but I love those that you found. Maybe I’ll go looking soon……

    Reply

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