It’s finally time to admit that shopping has gotten too challenging. Back in the day I could feel proud of myself for looking at the cost per ounce for a grocery store item, or using an online shopping comparison site to pick a merchant for a purchase, or even retrieving an online coupon for said merchant before completing the purchase.
But recently this has proven to not be enough. For every single store, it seems I now have to be a “member”, and even if I’m a member, I would save more if I also had their credit card. Just the negativity of declining one or both makes checkouts not as fun.
On a recent shopping trip to the outlet mall, I picked up a coupon book (I would never have known about the coupon book, except an expert shopper who was letting me tag along told me that AAA members could pick them up).There was a coupon for pretty much every store, but typically your purchase had to exceed $X in order to save $Y, or get Z% off. It seemed that the excitement of being at a place with 100 stores was tempered by the fact that if I wanted to “save more”, I would have to “spend more”, and consequently at just a few stores.
I also ran into an unexpected challenge at the Bass outlet. I was browsing their shoes. Truth is, I needed 0 pairs of shoes (I own a small number, which cover a range of terrain, weather, and occasion conditions). But I spotted one pair that I didn’t know I needed until I saw them. There was another pair I liked, but I had just bought a similar, inferior pair. So I definitely wanted the first pair, and maybe the second pair. The math the outlet presented me with was this: 50% off 1 pair of shoes, or buy 1 pair at full price and get 2 pairs free. It seemed foolish not to get both pairs + another pair for a total of $80, but I really didn’t want to go home with 3 pairs of shoes. I haven’t had much luck buying shoes for other people, so gifting was iffy. In the end I paid $40 for 1 pair, having to face a surprised cashier who asked “Just one pair?!”.
The thing is, I still don’t know if my utility would have been greater if I had paid the $80 for 3 pairs of shoes. In another store, where my total was $50 for 4 items, should I have found additional items to get to a total of $75, so I could get $15 off?
For now I’ll just have to stick to saving money by shopping as little as possible.