Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I Should Slap Myself

Today I was reading Trent's post about how he's not going to buy any books for a year, which I found very admirable except when I put on my professional hat as someone who makes her living via people buying books, and then I wanted to kill him. But seriously, despite its economic implications, I am all for frugality via self-denial. I often think I'd like to buy something and then I talk myself out of it as something I don't need. And I'm also pretty good sometimes about just not letting myself be tempted-- I avoid doing things that will make me want things I don't need.

But this week, I wasn't so good about that.

First of all, I've noticed lately that a local store no longer seemed to sell a type of candy of which I've become fond. It's not like I am a candy addict, but these particular ginger chews are really yummy and it saddened me to think that I might have to give up this occasional treat. But as usual, when something doesn't seem to be available in stores, I google it, and as usual, someone, usually Amazon, sells it. I didn't want the 20-pack that I first found on Amazon-- that just seemed like too much. I'd have ginger coming out my ears, not to mention all my fillings coming out of my teeth! So I found another vendor selling smaller packages. They turned out to be the same vendor who would actually fulfill the order via Amazon, but here's a hint: I think sometimes you can get a better shipping rate if you buy direct from the seller outside of Amazon. Amazon would have charged me $7 per box shipping, instead of the $6.50 plus .50 per each additional item I ended up paying. But bottom line is I spent $23 on a large supply of candy, which just seems kind of silly.

Then it got worse. I was checking my AOL email, and amongst their usual inane home page features was a headline that went something like "You need these noise-canceling earbuds and they're really cheap!" And I was totally a sucker for it! I thought, "yeah, I've been thinking that would be a good thing to have, since I've got all these podcasts I want to listen to but they're impossible to hear when I'm on the subway and that is the only good time I have to listen to them..." So I click through to see the product advertised, and then I go searching on Amazon to see what they have to offer. I do decide to just get the $19.99 Philips earbuds (which now seem to be sold out), despite some mixed reviews, because, hey, it's only $19.99.

But then I need something else to get me up to $25 for free Super Saver shipping! I end up getting another Moleskine notebook, because I know I will eventually use it even though I have about 5 spares right now, plus about 3 spares of a different kind of notebook that is just good for sketching. The price was slightly discounted on Amazon but I probably could have gotten it for the same price or cheaper somewhere else.

So the end result is that over $50 of my hard-earned money just evaporated on totally unnecessary impulse purchases. I'd like to make a pledge not to do this again for a whole year, but that might be over-ambitious!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love the deals we can get on Amazon. However, to get past the impulse buy we put the items in the shopping cart then move to later buy or just put on wishlist. This way we can think about it, check other sources, etc. and then finally decide. Bellen

SandyVoice said...

How many times have we all bought something because it's on sale, or because you get a bonus if you "BUY NOW!!!"

I read somewhere that one technique for getting control of your finances is never to buy something on sale -- not even just avoiding buying extra because it's on sale, but refusing to pay anything but full price. The idea is that, if you have to pay full price, you don't buy anything you don't really want or need just because it's cheap. For some reason, I thought this would work for me, so I've been trying it for the last three months. I haven't gone to the extent of making any big purchases that way -- I looked for a good deal on my new computer, and I compared prices in my usual four stores to get the best prices on my regular grocery list. But it has stopped me from making impulse purchases, or wasting time searching the stores for tiny savings. It was weird at the beginning, especially since my budget is so tight this year, and I thought my expenses might go up, but they actually went down right away, and have continued to go down. I have not felt restricted in what I could buy, but I actually stopped buying things I don't really want or need. Interesting ...

Doctor S said...

I am a habitual offender when it comes to buying things because they are on sale. I once bought two pairs of the same sneakers online because they were so dirt cheap! Online shopping can be extremely impulsive, especially on Amazon, but beware of the 1-click purchase and ship feature they have otherwise you might end up with things you didnt realize you clicked on at your doorstep later that week!

David said...

I know it is easier said than done. But the trick is to look at each expense, as a "Do I need it right now? Will I survive another day without it?" Know that whatever is on sale will likely go on sale again. And saving always feels better than spending.
http://whyspendmoney.blogspot.com

dSims said...

I monitor deal-forums like slickdeals, fatwallet, cheapassgamer, etc. And I know that I spend waaaay more because of it. I see a good deal and think that it will be at least a year before I can find it at that price again, so I buy it even though I don't need it or have time for it right now.

I feel proud that I paid half as much for my collection than "regular people" did, even though half of my collection never gets used.

The thrill of finding a good deal is sometimes more rewarding than the actual product.

Anonymous said...

I totally know what you mean about spending before u know it! but going back to books, I'm a regular at the nypl. I don't know what i would do what the nypl. I love reading books but can't afford to spend $15-20 books on every book that gets my interest. In fact I recommend everyone to get a library card and use it because it saves so much money for book lovers like me.

frugal zeitgeist said...

Dang, that candy looks good.

Optioned Unarmed said...

If it makes you feel any better, Smallflower.com is the web presence for the absolute best store in Chicago. This store (called the Merz Apothecary -- (www.merzapothecary.com)
has some of the best alternative and European remedies available anywhere in this country, and they've been doing business for over 100 years.

I haven't posted in awhile, but you may remember that I'm quite an anti-consumer, yet I go out of my way to support places like this... I'm glad you found them!

Also, as some side trivia, the owners' sons were two of the original writers/actors in the Bombity of Errors, which was arguably the funniest hip-hop parody adaptation of Shakespeare, ever...

So, enjoy your candy!

modena604 said...

it's okay to splurge once in awhile.
it's not like you are spending thousands of dollars
you deserve a treat!

Clean ClutterFree Simple said...

I often internet shop but since I keep my credit card well away from the computer, I usually don't buy anything.

for those ginger chews, try an Asian market. Very cheap.

Ensoleille said...

Have you ever read Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely? He goes into this whole chapter about when "Free" isn't actually Free, and ever since reading this book, I run the numbers before making a decision to "up-spend" to get free shipping!