Friday, December 26, 2008

Spending to Save

Ok - I will admit. I have a serious shopping problem. And it’s not just a – well let’s go to the mall and spend hundreds of dollars on a lot of stuff. I get a thrill going to buy toothpaste at CVS. Seriously. Even the other day – at Wal-Mart – picking up gifts for the kids of the people whose house I was going to be at on Christmas Eve and knowing that I had tons of gifts for me under our tree – I still got distracted. A sweater here. A t-shirt there. I literally had to be pushed to the cash register to check out otherwise I am sure I would have bought something. Anything. Just because…

So today I went up to Hickory. Ostensibly, my mission was to return two sweaters at Old Navy - sweaters incidentally bought in a moment of pre-Christmas shopping hysteria - $30 cashmere!! – sweaters which turned out not to fit too well and frankly – how many cashmere sweaters do I need down here? I mean – it was 60 degrees out yesterday! So that was the plan. Return the sweaters. And then maybe – just maybe see if they had that charcoal wrap cardigan which was the sweater I had really wanted all along and which really, at 55% cotton –was much more useful year-round. And also – maybe see if the $30 cashmere was still $30 (or even less) and see if there was something that was better fitting.

I walked into Old Navy. Seriously – the entire store was 60% off. I found the sweaters and sure enough there was the charcoal cardigan I had been coveting. I found my size and tried it on. Perfect fit. I was relieved – because I had looked online last night and it wasn’t available….. Plus, online it was only reduced from $39.50 to $35.00. Here it was 60% off (which turns out to be $15.80). What a deal. A steal. My patience was paying off. Big time. Then I spent another 10 minutes rummaging through the still-$30 cashmere – finally convincing myself that I really didn’t need another sweater (hadn’t I unwrapped 4 yesterday morning?) although secretly telling myself that when I come back up to Hickory next week to get a pedicure (Hanukkah present from Aunt Pearl) – that I might pop back in and see if the $30 cashmere is even cheaper.

So with my “real” errand done, I should have gotten into my car and gone home. But I didn’t. I went to Target. Now I love Target 365 days a year. But I have always had the fantasy of going to Target (or anywhere really) the day after Christmas to get all those wonderful Christmas decorations and décor at ridiculously low prices. I never have. Usually I am working. But not today. And really, as I said, the Old Navy errand was a guise. This was my true mission.

I told myself I wasn’t going to go crazy, I didn’t even take a cart or basket because I didn’t want to yield to temptation. I zig-zagged through the aisles (staying away from clothes), heading to the back corner where I knew the holiday headquarters was probably already ransacked (they had opened at 7am. It was now almost 10am). Then I saw it. The first “At Least 50% Off” aisle. It was holiday linens. Tablecloths and runners. Placemats and napkin rings. I eyed some very cute holly napkin rings and contemplated. They were $2.99 for 2. At half off that would make them $1.49 for two. Six napkin rings would cost me less than $6. That seemed like a good bargain. But then I thought about the lovely green and gold napkin rings I use now for the holidays which I had picked up last year at Old Time Pottery. And then I thought how I would be at the beach next week that I’d probably go to Old Time Pottery if there was a need. And how if I bought these napkin rings today, there would be no need. But if I didn’t, there would certainly be a need – especially because I discovered that one of my green and gold rings is starting to come undone and I need to replace it. Honest.

So I passed on the napkin rings but then I saw gold napkins. A 4-pack normally cost $7.99 so buying 8 altogether would normally cost $16. But at half off, it would only be $8 – $1 per napkin. And let’s be honest- napkins are a year round thing. And I have white and gold dishes. And I have these beautiful gold chargers. Gold is a major theme in my dining room. This is a purchase for life I tell myself. I grabbed 2 packs and headed on my way.

I went straight for wrapping paper next. I haven’t really bought Christmas wrapping paper in years (except for the 2 rolls I bought the other week) and in all honesty I wrapped many presents this year in scraps of paper from my childhood (why I have them is another post to be sure and I used them more for resourcefulness and nostalgia than anything else) but seriously – you can always use wrapping paper – right? I wound up with 4 rolls – 2 of which can be used year round on wedding gifts and anniversary gifts and birthday gifts….and so the justification continued. I also grabbed Scotch tape because Scotch tape is something you can use ALWAYS so why not buy it at 50% off? At this point, my decision to not get a cart seemed like a foolish one. Between my Louis Vuitton dangling awkwardly off my wrist, the napkins clutched in one hand, the wrapping paper constantly slipping out from under my arm as I went to examine another potential purchase…so I grudgingly made my way ALL the way to the other end of the store (seriously – the holiday headquarters are catty corner from the entrance) to get a cart. Along the way I picked up a beautiful gold and black serving bowl (a steal at $4.99). Another purchase for life.

Wrapping paper aside, what I have always fantasized most about the “Day After Christmas Sale” is the ornaments. Not that I need them. I have too many as it is. I have 2 trees this year and there are probably a box and a half of ornaments I didn’t use. But still…they are so pretty and sparkly and shiny and by this point, I am in that manic state – the euphoria that comes from knowing I am buying (or maybe spending) – and nothing will slow me down. I try to be thoughtful about my purchase but frankly, it’s a little bit difficult, mainly because there are so many people and carts trying to navigate through a small and crowded space. I grab what I can – what I like, what I think I need or at least what I think will enhance what I already have and then my claustrophobia drives me to check out.

So here’s what I ultimately wound-up with:

* 8 gold napkins - $7.98 (A life purchase most definitely. I will use these ALWAYS.)
* 1 large gold & black serving bowl - $4.99 (Another life purchase for sure.)
* 1 pack of holiday tissue paper - $0.89 (I mean – less than a dollar. And I can use the solid red tissue year round.)
* 4 12-packs of holiday gift tags - $1.49 each (Ok – so maybe I didn’t need 4 packs, but I haven’t bought gift tags in years and clearly I won’t need to again for a while.)
* 2 boxes (4 in each box) of beautiful gold and black Christmas balls - $6.98 (you can NEVER, EVER, EVER have too many balls for your tree – just ask anyone.)
* 4 gold tapers - $1.99 ( At this point you know how I feel about gold and really, candles are like Scotch tape. You can never have too many because you use them all year round so why not buy at half off? In fact, I probably should have got another box.)
* 30-count gold tealights - $1.99 (Ditto to what I wrote above and frankly, I have never found gold tealights anywhere else before.)
* 2 boxes of beautiful snowflake ornaments in assorted bright shades - $5.98 (I love sparkly snowflakes for my tree. I have 5 or 6 that I got years ago at Crate and Barrel pre-Christmas so you can imagine how much I paid for them. But now I have 16 more to add in beautiful bright shades like lime and turquoise and orange. These alone made the trip worth it.)
* 2 4-packs of glitterly gold snowflake ornaments - $0.98 (That’s like, $0.1225 per ornament!)
* 4 rolls of wrapping paper - $8.46 (And 2 of these can be used all year round.)
* 2 rolls of ribbon, total 125 feet - $7.48 (Ribbon is like wrapping paper – it’s a staple. And while red and gold is festive for the holidays, it can be used all the time. Really.)
* 2 rolls of Scotch “gift wrap” tape - $1.98 (I just used my last piece wrapping the last present on Christmas Eve so I need this. Absolutely.)

Total Spent: $59.56 (including tax)
Total Saved: $55.90

So tell me – am I crazy to spend $59.56 in order to save $55.90?

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…