Tag Archives: Shopping

When to Squelch the Impulse to Buy

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It’s happened to all of us—we go to the mall, or to a website, to buy something for a special occasion. Maybe it’s a dress, or maybe it’s a gift. The first thing we see is a viable choice, but we think maybe we’ll see something nicer or less expensive if we keep looking. Hours or days later, we’ve not found anything better, so we go back to that first thing we saw, but it’s now sold out. Or maybe it’s still available, but you wonder why you wasted so much time hunting for the elusive unicorn.

At this point in my life, I often buy the first acceptable thing I see, just because it’s expedient. But not always. There are situations when you shouldn’t trust your first impulse:

  1. When your budget is tight. If you’ve had a few large unexpected expenses recently, like replacing a major appliance or getting a costly repair done, it would be irresponsible to choose the first shiny thing you see. Research and see if you can find a better price someplace else.
  2. If you’re a shopaholic. If your default mode is retail therapy, there will come a time when you’ll have to operate like an accountant rather than a free spirit. Is this purchase really necessary? Do you (or the intended recipient) already have something like it? Where will you/he/she put it? Is it a good value?
  3. When the item has an obvious design flaw. This should be a no-brainer, right? But sometimes our hearts get in the way.

Ten years ago, I wanted a blazer. Other women I knew looked so professional in blazers, but I’m short and heavyset, and I looked like a stuffed sausage in one. The blazers I tried on always felt tight at the buttons. So I kept looking. For months.

One day I found a black velour jacket with no buttons. I put it on, and it just draped beautifully on my body. My wardrobe at the time was mostly black; it would literally look good with everything I owned. It was $50, which was a little more than I wanted to spend, but I decided it would be worth it because I’d been looking for sooo looong.

There was just one thing. Along the opening, there were loose facings. And the facings kept shifting and showing.

I know just enough about sewing garments that I knew facings could be sewn down. However, tinkering with that facing in velour was beyond my skill. I didn’t think I could do it without making a mess of it.

I tried that jacket on again and again, and as I moved in front of the mirror, the facing kept sliding into view. I knew the facing would drive me crazy and detract from my pleasure wearing the jacket, but it nearly killed me to put it back on the rack.

Unbelievably, in the very next store, I found another black velour jacket, but this one had been constructed so that the facing was enclosed in a seam. Brilliant! And it was only $20! And I also found a black wool buttonless blazer for $20! So I both them both! I still wear both of them to this day.

There are times when buying the first thing you see works out well, but sometimes restraint is called for. How do you know when? Think things through carefully.

Now it’s your turn. Have you missed a good deal because you were holding out for something better? Was there a time when waiting turned out to be a better strategy? Share in the comments below.