DECEMBER 24, 2008
Wouldn't you know it, as I was driving to Steelyard Commons to join the crowds of people searching for last-minute gifts, people on NPR were discussing how they were, or should be, scaling back on buying stuff to focus on more meaningful activities.
They all sounded like better people than me as they talked about feeding the poor, not asking for gifts, only giving things that they made as opposed to bought. There's a big part of me that agrees with that.
There's another part that likes to give—and get—gifts. Things that you think will make the other person happy. Sure it's easy to get caught up in buying the biggest-latest-coolest thing just because that's what everyone is talking about, and I try to avoid that. I try to buy what's on sale and spend a fair amount of time researching big-ticket items so that I buy wisely. But I still buy.
My last purchase caused a lot of internal struggle, and I'm still not sure I made the right choice. I wanted to buy Joanne perfume. I looked at Kohl's—too expensive—and Target—too cheap. I ended up and Bath & Body Works where I found something that seemed perfect. It was $10.50 for the bottle, but you could get it for $5 if you bought four other items (5 for $25). My dilemma was should I pay double the price for one bottle, really all I needed, or buy four more that I didn't need to save quite a bit on a per-item basis?
The green environmental angel on one shoulder warned me that to save money I'd be consuming a lot more resources (five containers rather than one, plus the contents and packaging). And I wasn't exactly saving money, I was spending more ($25 vs. $10.50).
On my other shoulder another green angel, this a thrifty one, kept screaming when I put down everything but one bottle. "You're going to pay $10.50 for that instead of $5? Are you nuts?" Do the math: for a bit more than double the investment I'd get five times the stuff.
I spent at least twenty minutes, maybe more, walking back and forth across the store, picking up bottles and putting them down. Testing different scents and comparing bubble bath with body lotion and hand lotion. Thinking about whether to waste money or stuff. Stuff won out. I bought five for $25. Hope she likes at least one of them.