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When Bargain Shopping Is Bad for Your Budget Comments

  • By Natasha Burton
  • January 22, 2014

bargain shopping

There are few things I love more than finding a good deal.
 
This passion of mine took root early: As a middle schooler and teen, I would often accompany my mom on trips to discount stores like Ross and T.J. Maxx to partake in what we called guilt-free shopping. We'd leave with bags stuffed with $14 sundresses and $20 shoes (that we both knew we didn't need), energized by the deals we scored.
 
As an adult, I still relish my regular Ross trips (though now I've expanded my shopping repertoire to the home goods section, a very dangerous place indeed). But this dedication to deals means that, after years and years of bargain shopping, I have a really hard time paying full price for anything. If someone comments on my new bag or throw pillow, my gratitude for their positive feedback always includes something to the effect of "I got it on sale," or "You'll never believe it was only [insert miniscule amount here]!" As if the low price of the item not only justifies my purchase, but elevates its worth to new, awe-worthy levels.
 
Not only have I developed the knee jerk (and cringe-worthy) habit of broadcasting how little I spend on nearly everything I buy, in fact, I have found that rather than saving me money, bargain shopping is putting a significant dent in my bank account.
 
The problem is multi-layered: First of all, I am stuck in the mindset that shoes (and even jackets, for that matter) should never cost more than $100. Say I want a pair of leather boots: I'll spend time searching for the best pair I can find for the cheapest price possible and buy those. Makes sense, right? But the problem with this practice is that, pretty soon, the novelty of the deal wears off and then I'm stuck with a pair of boots that I don't really love or even want to wear. Eventually, I end up buying another pair. And it starts to add up.
 
Not only is this a money issue, it's also a time-suck. I can get so fixated on finding the absolute lowest online price for a given item that I find myself wasting hours on endless Web searching.
 
Though I'm committed to my frugality, my inability to resist a good deal also prompts me to buy a lot of things I don't actually need. (Which is why I no longer allow myself to have the RueLaLa app on my phone.) As a result, I have a closet full of items I got good deals on, but don't absolutely love, which keeps me forever unsatisfied (and on the hunt for the next great bargain).

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