I’ve learned the hard way that even a deal costs money. A shirt on sale that I’ve never worn. A bargain-shop knick knack that collected dust in the back of the closet. The two-for-one milkshake deal that ended badly in gut rot, brain freeze, and an entire second milkshake in a warm melted mess. The cheap hooker in Thailand who turned out to be a she-man.
I seems as though human nature dictates this driving need to save money, and if not save it, at least be under the illusion that a bargain has been made. I knew a woman who once bought $100 worth of meat to get a free pie. You could argue that she scored a free pie or that she should be scorned for paying $100 for that free pie. Factor in the upfront cost of the beef, the freezer space, the electricity bill and the fact that the cow might decide to buy a one way ticket to India and the pie may have costed her more than if she had just gone to the store when the pastry bug bit.
Some people are more intense in their bargain hunting. I have friends whose skills are second to none, clipping coupons and searching out sales while scoring deals that would make my Dutch grandmother weep with envy. On the opposite end of the scale are the few weirdos that couldn’t care less. But most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these extremes.
For the majority of us, there is a somewhat perverse satisfaction we get in scoring a bargain. It’s one thing to get a deal, but if you are like me, you want to brag about your acquisition, like Atilla the Hun back from plundering Rome.
“Thanks, I got it for three bucks at the Bed Bug Thrift Store!”
Or, “Delicious chicken wings.”
“Glad you think so. I got them for a song because the store’s electricity was out for several hours and all their meat was starting to smell funny.”
How about, “Your car rides smoothly.”
“Yeah, it took a few days after I got it back from Jack’s Pretty Good Break Repairs but all the kinks seem to be ironed out now.”
Another place I get carried away is at the dollar store. It should really be called the Twenty Dollar Store because it seems I never leave that damned place with my bill totalling any less than that. All those pretty, cheap, Chinese-made things just call my name. I think to myself, “What the heck, it’s only a buck.” But “only a buck” adds up fast when you are filling your cart like the bag lady who shuffles around town collecting empties in her rickety three-wheeled Walmart cart.
I haven’t even touched on garage sales and liquidation sales, but as real estate guru Dolf de Roos said, the deal of the decade comes along once a week. I should really start taking his advice.