Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss

Sheila Roberts | When Is A Bargain Not A Bargain

March 25, 2010

SHEILA ROBERTSSMALL CHANGEDo you know what the three sexiest words on the planet are? Fifty Percent Off. No, wait, I take that back. I thought of something even sexier: Seventy-five percent off. Well, if that’s sexy, what about eighty-percent off? Baby, I’m yours.

Don’t we love sales! Well, I do. (I bet you never guessed that.) But I have learned the hard way that something isn’t necessarily a bargain just because it’s on sale. In fact, when we’re out there snagging things on sale we can sometimes find we’ve got a tiger by the tail. So, to help all of us bargain hunters learn to know when to shoot and when to run back to shelter, I’ve come up with a simple three-question checklist.

By the way, I recently neglected to use my checklist and got snared when my greedy eyes fell on an amazing pair of shoes on sale at Penney’s for eighty percent off. Eighty percent! They were absolutely gorgeous so of course I had to buy them. What a steal! What an amazing bargain! What a . . . disaster. It’s been a while since I’ve worn heels that high. (Like the eighties!) Trust me, walking in fashion stilts is not like riding a bicycle. It does not necessarily all come back to you. Ask the people I almost fell on top of when I wore them to church. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. At least here.

Anyway, that leads me to item number one on Sheila’s checklist.

Will I really use this?
I don’t care if someone is practically giving an item away. If it doesn’t fit (either my body or my lifestyle) I don’t need to buy it. I don’t know about you, but I have a closet full of “I have a dream” outfits that will probably never see the light of day, at least not with me in them. But every one I bought with the firm intention of wearing at some point. I give them a little pat once in a while when I’m in there looking for something that fits and say hi but that’s about as far as we get. (Sad, really. We were once so in love.) Let that be a lesson to you, bargain hunters. Just planning to use a sale item at some point isn’t always a good reason to purchase it.

How often will I use this?
Okay, so you have answered, “Yes, I’ll use that amazing ________.” (You fill in the blank.) But will you use it as much as you think? (Eeew, that reminds me of the dishes I bought on sale for Easter, the dishwasher safe ones that got all kinds of tiny cracks in them the first time I washed ‘em.) Will it make your life all that much better? In other words, is it really necessary? Thanks to the Food Network we have all come to think of many kitchen gadgets as necessary. But they’re not. Do you know that I have never owned a pastry cutter (dough blender – whatever you call that funny arched multi-wired thing with the handle that you use when making pie crust)? How on earth have I, the piecrust queen, lived my whole life without a pastry cutter? I’ve used a fork, just like my mother always did. This is not to say you can’t get a pastry cutter if you know you’ll use it. But, obviously, if I bought one even on sale it would wind up sitting in my kitchen drawer and would be a waste of my money. Julia Child would be scandalized. Hmm. Maybe she’d be scandalized that I use a fork to make piecrust. I’d better watch Julie and Julia again!

Do I Have the Money for This?
This is the last and probably most important question to ask ourselves when we’re hunting big bargains. I once heard someone say that even if something only costs a dime it’s too much if you don’t have a dime. Buying things we can’t afford with money we don’t have has been the ruin of many a poor girl. So if I’m going to whip out my charge card to pay for that “I have a dream dress” . . . Wait. What am I doing? I’m not going to buy something I can’t use. Okay, I put that one back and found a dress that fits. Now, where was I? Oh, yes, so if I’m going to whip out my charge card to pay for that dress I’d better have the money in the bank to cover it when the credit card bill rolls around next month.

So there they are, my three simple mental checkpoints to help protect the bargain hunter. Trust me, if you use them you’ll your bank account will thank you. So will your husband. Then you’ll discover three more sexy words, realistically, maybe even sexier than those ones I mentioned earlier: Smart Shopping, Girl.

Happy hunting ladies!
Sheila Roberts

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