Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Shopping Philosophy
I have been known to take considerable grief in the past over my shopping, but I find the difficulty lies in how my distinct shopping philosophy differs from the conventional wisdom.

Let me explain.

I don't shop sales just to shop. For one thing, I don't enjoy it that much. For another thing, I dislike the crowds. I know women who will buy something because it is on sale and for no other reason. They don't really need the item and only want the item because of the sale. This, in my opinion, is evidence that you are an easy retail mark. I'm not.

Now, I don't necessarily eschew the sales. That's not what I'm trying to say. I will shop sales. But, and it is a big but, only if there are items that I need. I have been known to catch the blow-out going-out-of-business Toys R'Us sale for the 75% off on toys. I've been known to check out special day-after-Thanksgiving sales as well. I've even shopped a grocery store's grand opening specials. I have found some good values at these times. However, I don't make it a habit to catch these sorts of special sales. Generally, I have a need before a sale presents itself.

I know other people, however, who stake out these sales like they are on a mission. It is almost as though they are hell-bent on dropping several hundred dollars in the store. But I emphasize again, these are items that would be considered superfluous. They are not, strictly speaking, needed or necessary. They do not replace a broken or worn item. They are additional.

And yet, these same people point to my expenditures as frivolous. The crux seems to be the fact that I seemingly spend more when I do spend. I plead guilty as charged to the indictment! I buy quality items that I expect to last a good long time. And, I pay a premium for it. But, as I have often pointed out, I absolutely use the items, with care, and were one to look at the big picture, I really spend less.

You see, I don't have to keep replacing items that fall apart. I buy quality and these items last a very long time with careful maintenance.

Purses, for example. I buy fine leather. In general, I spend between $120 and $350 on a handbag. Sounds pricey, right? True enough. But, I only buy one purse every 18 months to 3 years, so if you split the cost over the period, you are talking about ~$15 per month, or less. This is much cheaper than my counterpart who shells out $20-25 every 4-6 weeks for a new bag. Moreover, because I treat my handbags carefully, I am now to the point where I don't need a new bag. Oftentimes I go looking for a new purse and can't find one that I like, furthering my savings. I simply rotate through my old bags (which all look new) when I get bored with one and wait for the god's to change the direction of the fashion wind. Right now, for example, it has been a year since my last purse purchase. I am still content and currently nothing on the shelves appeals to me. But, because my item costs more than the habitual cheap purse purchaser's, I am pilloried.

Perfume. I only wear a handful of select fragrances, and 98% of the time I wear only Coco by Chanel. I buy a bottle every 10-15 months and it costs me about $70. Still, this is cheaper than some who buy a new bottle and grow tired of it in 2 months and have to find something new. Furthermore, most women know that perfumes are perhaps more personal than undergarments. Each woman's chemistry is different. One scent can smell like fresh air and roses on one woman and canned sardines on her sister. There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all in perfume. That's why they have testers. I buy what I like.

Clothing. Yes, yes. I like clothes. What woman doesn't? But the difference here is again in the quality of the items I buy. I will buy a very expensive designer sweater, treat it well, and wear it for 5 or 6 years. Yes, ladies, YEARS. I am no slave to fashion. When I shop I buy quality garments in classic designs that work with my mix and match wardrobe. I love soft fabrics, however, and have a certain weakness for cashmere, silk, and georgette. These are not cheap fabrics. I also prefer what can only be described as classic preppie styles. Button-down shirts, nice trousers, clean lines and non-dating colors. That's just the way I am. On the average week, I don't spend anything on clothing. I know women who shop every weekend and spend at least $50. This isn't me. But, I'm the one who takes guff for spending $130 on two blouses.

I should clarify, however, that it isn't my husband who gives me grief over my shopping. In reality, he knows how little shopping I really do and how much I despise it. He knows that the reason I like to have my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving is one part avoiding the mad crowds and the last minute frenzy and one part enjoying the holidays.

I am not above finding the deals and taking advantage, however. When we were still feeding formula to Bunny I would only shop for it at one store. Why? Because Target was the only place you could find the cans with 20% more for the same price. I would buy six or eight cans per visit! It was like a buy five, get one free deal, and anyone who has priced formula recognizes the value in that.

I'm not saying I'm some sort of shopping goddess. I'm merely trying to point out that while I may spend more at the outset, my dollars go further because I buy quality.

I suppose I'm just defending myself.


posted by Phoenix | 9:12 AM


At 1:13 PM, Blogger Caltechgirl said...

I'm with you. Quality over quantity. Spending a bit more at the outset is a good way to save more in the long run as long as you are careful with what you purchase.

And I hate to go out and shop. Serves my purpose both ways :-)


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