A bargain is something you don’t need at a price you can’t resist.
— Franklin Jones
My father used to hate going shopping with my grandmother. Apparently she had some sort of sensory locater tuned to bargain tables and would spend hours at said tables ‘turning stuff over’. Then she would buy a pair of undies. My grandmother was careful with her money, but she loved a good bargain table (purely for its entertainment value and possibly because she knew it pissed Dad off — she could be a bit of a stirrer).
My father’s dislike of the bargain table has been passed down to me. I would honestly prefer to spend extra on a clothing item from the rack than to stand at a messy (and they always are) bargain table, sifting through stuff to find something in my size.
For this reason, I also dislike going to Lifeline Book Fairs (and second-hand book stalls at fetes and markets). My husband and daughter go nearly every time and return, several hours later, with bags and bags of book bargains. I know there are great finds at great prices on these tables, particularly on the last day when you can nab a bulging bag of books for ten dollars, but I just don’t like standing there, in way-too-close proximity to people I don’t know, pawing through wobbly tables of often musty smelling books. The books make me sneeze, my back aches and I clearly have a short attention span. It is quicker to order the book I want from Book Depository or download it on my Kindle — even if it does cost more. I love books — just not big tables of them that are not in any discernible order.
However, immune to the bargain shopping disease, I am not.
Go down to my shed/converted study. On the many shelves in there you will find masses and masses of resource books for teaching. Many of them unopened, never used. Why are they there? Because they were on sale … a bargain! At the time I probably thought, ‘Oh, this will come in useful some day.’ I need to remember that ‘some day’ (just like tomorrow) never actually arrives. And they are still there because, even though I’ve never used them, one day I might, and it is beyond me to throw out a book. Ever.
Next, go and have a look in my wardrobe, or my chest of drawers, or the spare cupboard in the study. Clothes! The other day I found a skirt that still had the tag on it; I cannot remember buying this skirt, but it had one of those yellow stickers on it which shows a cheaper price than the original underneath. Sadly, I own many clothing items like this — never worn. Why? Because they were on sale … a bargain! At the time of purchase I would have thought, ‘Oh, I might wear this one day … it’s a bit tight but I’ll fit it one day … the shoes are a bit pinchy, but they’ll stretch …’ I need to remember that my clothing style has not changed in 20 years, things that are tight now will remain that way and shoes DO NOT STRETCH even if you wear them until your toes bleed. The latter point is a lie fabricated by shoe makers and perpetuated by salespeople, mostly women who should know better.
I am getting better at resisting the sale price tag. But I still fall off the wagon sometimes.
My daughter has not inherited the dislike of bargain tables, nor, it seems, has she inherited my grandmother’s frugal way with money.
I am constantly saying to her, ‘Think about it … do you really need that?’ To which her response is that she will buy it with her own money. In her mind, whatever it is, it is totally essential.
The other day she had a massive clean-out of her cupboards. Her New Year’s Resolution was possibly to stop being a hoarder. She put what looks like half the contents of her bedroom into the dining room. A quick glance through turns up multiple items I had tried to stop her from purchasing: a straw bowler hat from Mogo I knew she wouldn’t wear (I was right), a cap from The Pinnacles in WA which was slightly too small and an ugly colour, various ornaments and tacky knick-knacks from all over the place, books (yes books! How can she throw these out?) from previous Lifeline Book Fairs I know she hasn’t read … the list goes on.
To further illustrate this point it should be noted my son, two years younger, has over $700 in his wallet (which lives with me and will be banked next time I have the desire to stand in a queue for over an hour), whereas my daughter, in contrast, has about $50 in hers — and this is only because she forgot to bring it when we went away on the weekend. My son is tight with his money because he has no desire to buy stuff he doesn’t need; my daughter loves to spend money, that’s why it is in her wallet, ‘I have $20, what can I spend it on right now?’
Slight jealousy erupts when a friend shows me her beautiful skirt purchased for $10 at a sale. Or when she talks about some random cookware item she bought on sale for 75% off the RRP.
‘You should go,’ she enthuses. ‘Take Ashlea. She’d love it.’
No! Ashlea would end up buying whatever she could get equivalent to the amount in her wallet, plus extra because ‘I’ll pay you back.’ And I know I would end up buying something that doesn’t fit, is an ugly colour, or that I won’t ever use — because it was a bargain.
Non-attendance at these affairs is so much more effective than so-called self control or restraint. I can live with the jealousy.
* I found this quote on a wonderful blog by Edmark M. Law called learn fun facts. The blog is ‘an archive of curious facts for the curious’ and is full of fascinating facts, info and quotes. It is my go-to blog when procrastination (and inspiration) is called for.