Say what you like about shopping, it plunges you in the midst of humanity. Before reality TV, this was reality, without the bleeps for people’s language inadequacies, or the blather stream of a host who is overly impressed with whatever qualities he believes he is endowed with.
Recently, in my alternative reality world, I was in one of those one-stop warehouses when I passed by a husband and wife “discussing” a flatfold pile of men’s shorts:
“I don’t know,” he said. “They’re kind of ugly.”
“But they’re $15 each,” she replied. “So pick out three.”
Poor man. He was 40, but in that moment he was 9 again, shopping with mom for school, which would put him back to 1982, and we all know what the clothes looked like in the early 80s. And the hair.
Returning to 2013, this fully grown adult was faced with the choice of ugly, uglier, ugliest, or butt ugly, which is what any of the four shorts options on the table would literally look like on any man’s body, and he needed to decide which one he wouldn’t buy.
Just one. The other three were mandatory.
If I had felt like being any more intrusive than I was by eavesdropping, I would have approached the couple before anything made it into the cart and said,
“I know how to save you $45.
“He’ll never wear these, you know. You, the wife, will buy them; you’ll feel good about saving $10 per pair retail. You’ll get them home; he’ll stuff them way back in the back of a drawer, and put on the pair he’s wearing now.
“You can save money, and stress in your marriage, by walking away.
“See? He’s smiling.”
Really, when you think about how easy the average man is to dress: five t-shirts, two pairs of shorts, two pairs of jeans, or a variation thereof, there’s no reason not to buy something that he likes and doesn’t make him feel like Ralphie in the Christmas Story. Metro males aside, most women who poke through piles of graphically repulsive, but $15 each, pairs of shorts at warehouse retailers, are married to men like this.
Which brings me to a major principle of saving money: if you (or he, if that’s the person who is the body in question) doesn’t love it, don’t buy it, because you/he won’t wear it.
That sounds so ridiculously simple, doesn’t it? But like most principles of household money management, it is less a matter of complicated formulas and budgetary magic tricks as it is a way of thinking, a philosophy, an attitude toward stuff and how we acquire it.
Some people are like Barbie or Ken; they like lots and lots of clothes hanging in their closet — not necessarily on their body because after the first or second wearing they decide it doesn’t look right, an observation they sort of made in the dressing room but overruled because the price was so perfect.
Other people — men or women — have limited wardrobes of higher quality items that look good, feel good, and are the first thing they reach for in the morning. It doesn’t matter that every item is navy blue or black.
It’s interesting when the two meet and marry, but at least Barbie/Ken can negotiate for extra, much needed, closet space.
As with any two extremes, most of us are somewhere in the middle, with more clothes than we need or want because we bought something for the price, not the fit, but with enough clothes that we love and wear on a continual basis, seeking hallowed ground for burial when a beloved sweater is so holey that it couldn’t be used to wash the car.
Ideally, we look reasonably well put together, without a lot of waste in that closet space.
And, we regularly save $45, every time we pass by a table of graphically repulsive clothing and Just Say No.
Saving money is not so much a series of tricks and tips as it is a
lifestyle, and part of this lifestyle is learning to say No and Yes at the right times.
We don’t STOP buying things, we just take time to make sure that we’re buying the right things. One of these right things — and of course I’d think this way — is my book, Live Happily on Less, which draws on a lifetime of living well on less than whatever we’ve been given.
If you’ve got a digital reader, then you’re already saving money, as one of the reviewers of my book pointed out, and the book is $5.99 in digital form at Amazon.com. The paperback retails for $12.99 but is frequently discounted 20 percent, and if you get one good piece of advice that makes you change something in your life, then you have more than made your money back.
I am self published, so this is how I promote myself. You’ll notice that I don’t pack my website with ads from other places — just information about my books, and the Norwegian Artist’s original and licensed art. That’s because we KNOW these products, and we know that they are good.
This article was originally published in ThoughtfulWomen.org.