I love to shop. When asked about what I do in my spare time, shopping always lands on that list. I, however, am a bargain shopper and I get a high from getting a great deal. It’s more than a hobby though; it’s a way of life. If I don’t get deals then I typically don’t buy things. I wait until things go on sale or shop at discount stores in order to get what I need for myself and my daughter. We are cute, too; because I figure out how to make the best of what we have. Of course birthdays, holidays and care boxes from grandmas help fill in the gaps of what the clearance racks and coupons don’t provide so I can’t claim that I’ve done it all on my own, but I do work hard.
Well, one Saturday when my daughter was visiting her grandma and I had ample time to get into trouble, I went to visit a DSW to see what was new, or to see what was new on the clearance rack and what might become new to me. I didn’t need anything specifically; I just liked the idea of having more than one pair of trusty work shoes. (If this were a video, I’d cut to my standing shoe rack holding roughly 40 pairs that resides in a corner of my room.) It is important to mention here if you did not know, that DSW is like a McDonald’s play place for grown women with nothing to do. So as I took my time and perused the clearance rack, I tried on some boots for fun, some expensive heels with spikes on the back that I probably would not ever wear and some terrible looking yet sensible flats. Play mode turned into serious shopper mode when I came upon a pair of sage green suede heels, just tall enough for me to still enjoy with a mod-looking strap across the ankle. They were fun, they were green, and they were different which meant I just had to have them. When I checked the price I saw that they were fifty percent off which still made them $30. I debated for a while about whether these were worthy enough for such a large percentage of my clothing budget for the month.
Now seriously, $30 should not be a big deal for a hardworking woman like myself but there is so much to consider. For one, in my position as a sole provider I heavily weigh the return on investment or ROI for any item that I buy, especially if it is more than $20. How many times would I honestly wear these shoes? Is this pair a one-trick-pony pair: meaning… can I wear them with one dress or several dresses; what about slacks? Will they be appropriate for winter? Secondly, and I know I’m not the only one that does this, I started to think about all of the things that $30 could buy. For me, thirty dollars equals a trip to the grocery store, an oil change, or a whole bounty of clearanced goods for my daughter on a good day. I once scored three pairs of jeans, two shirts, a dress, pajamas and some boots for that amount at an outlet clearance. Thirdly, I had to know if I would need to buy anything else that would trump this shoe purchase. Will the kid need sweaters or socks or underwear or shoes? I stop in my tracks as I think about that last question. I spent last month’s budget on her back to school gear but found that many of her sweaters from last year she had magically outgrown! This might not be a good purchase after all.
A mother I know, who will be left unnamed, confessed to me that she had gone a year or more without purchasing new underwear because for her it was a true afterthought and her kids’ needs just outweighed her own. A friend of mine, also a mother, shared with me that she bought herself a heavily discounted (more than $100 off) MK bag but kept it, tags on and in the shopping bag for one month to decide whether or not she felt like she had the money to keep it. In the end she returned it.
I write all this to express that mom guilt about shopping is a real thing. Let’s not even mention the after purchase guilt when in the next month you learn that turning on the heat in September wasn’t a good idea for the budget and then you immediately want to take back everything that you bought but realize you can’t because you or your child have already used it. While every mother has to make smart money moves for herself and family, in my case, as a single mother I feel very uneasy about making money decisions alone. There’s no one to ask, “Is this a good idea?” The only one watching my money is me. Scary thought.
Somehow I’ve managed through the years with all of these internal debates but I just hope I don’t look back on financial records when it is time to shell out money for my daughter’s tuition and wonder…what did I do with all my money? Every penny has to count.
So after all of the pacing and weighing options I did what I always do. I bought the shoes so that I could decide later. I knew that it wouldn’t be a big deal if I wanted to take them back.
Where are they now, you ask? Resting comfortably in my trunk with the receipt, in the bag, just waiting to be returned.