Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Regretting Purchases

There's wise purchases and frivolous purchases, but one type of purchase stands out among the rest- the stupid purchase.

Forget the amount of money you actually spent on something; when you pay money for something which afterward you wish you hadn't, it leaves a stinky feeling in your tummy, an irritating blip in your mind.

The Skirt
I once went clothes shopping with a friend. I spotted a skirt that- remarkably- fit me well. This is not an everyday occurrence for someone my height and build (5 foot 9 and a half and very broad), and since the price was decent enough, I bought the skirt.
Once I came home, I realized what a mistake I'd made. The skirt? I don't think I wore it even one time.
Ok, actually I did. I put it on, walked outside for a grand total of 2 minutes, than rushed back into the house to get changed. I was positive the whole world was looking at me, laughing at how idiotic I looked.
What did that skirt look like, and why was I so embarrassed to wear it? In all honesty, that memory was so traumatic that I think I mostly erased it from my mind. But, using my artistic license and whatever I do remember about that skirt, I'll attempt to draw you a picture on my free graphics program.
Ok, that doesn't look nearly hideous as it was, but let me assure you that it was. It was a black and white skirt, with white panels and black stitching, and those dots all over that panel were little black beads. The back of the skirt was a mirror image of the front, aside for the flower.
Think it doesn't seem so bad?
Well, note that the flower was right on the crotch. And that in the back, the stitching sat right at the one part of the body that you do not want to accentuate. And the skirt was made out of a white parachute type of material. Ugh.

Anyhow, why am I telling you about this sorry skirt?
Because I should have known better. I wore that skirt for only a couple of minutes the whole time I had it. I wasted money on that skirt, and that could have been avoided easily.

I was reminded of this skirt incident and inspired to write this post after I spent yet another large sum of money on stupidity yesterday, only to regret it within a few minutes, but then it was too late.

The Sushi
I've got this thing for sushi. There are very few foods by which I am totally smitten, but sushi is high up among them.
See, this thing about me and sushi is that when I see a place selling it, I want it, and I want a heckuva lot of it. I have a really hard time resisting the alure of sushi.

So, yesterday I was in town, withdrawing enough cash from the bank to cover all our monthly expenditures aside for bills that must be paid by debit card (250 dollars, by the way), when I passed by a fast food place. Usually I would just pass on by, but I had foolishly traveled without any lunch, and my stomach and the kids were grumbling. When I saw they sold sushi, they had me wrapped around their littlest finger. What can I say- I'm a sucker for sushi.

Anyhow, when I get the idea in my head to have sushi (whether buying it or even making it), all of a sudden my appetite enlarges to epic proportions, and no, I won't be satisfied with just one or two or even six peices. I want a large variety. I want a ton of sushi...
And before I knew it, I paid nearly 20 dollars for some stinkin 15 pieces of sushi.

Now before you get amazed at how much I am able to eat, let me correct you. I am not able to eat that much in one go. At least I have absolutely zero desire to eat anymore after my third or fourth peice.
So why do I get so much?
I have no idea. I do the same thing every time though! It probably is connected to my being an overeater.

After forking over those 20 dollars for some stupid sushi, they tell me to sit down and wait a few minutes for my food to be ready. Well, I was with my nearly 3 and nearly 1 year olds and growling stomach and didn't really feel like sitting around for my food, but they said it would only be a few minutes...

After 10 minutes of just sitting there with no food, I started getting a little bit annoyed. Isn't the purpose of "fast food" to be able to satisfy your food cravings and luxury impulses immediately? Otherwise it would be called a restaurant and not a "fast food" place. But I digress.
I sent Lee up to the counter to ask when the food would come, and they tell him "In five minutes."
Oh great.

Well, those five minutes passed and still no sign of my food. This time I went to the maitre de myself and inquired about the status of my food.
"Another 5 minutes," was the answer I got. I see them busy cooking up my food while she says 5 minutes, and I know that her estimate is a gross under-exageration.
I told her that I hadn't expected my food to take this long to come, and she responds "Well, we want to make sure you have only fresh, fresh food." Read: "We didn't have anything ready until you came and we only started cooking even the very basics of your sushi once you made your order. We were simply not prepared."
Said I to the lady at the couner, "If I had known that my food would have taken so long to arrive, I never would have ordered it in the first place. I wish I could just have my money back and leave without the sushi."
Of course, as I already knew, it was too late to do that, for they were already making my food.

As a way of making reparations, the waitress arrives with a serving of Oriental salad on the house, but I didn't want it. Sure, I got "more for my money", but all the salad managed to do was further lessen my appetite which was already too small for my too large order.

Eventually, at long last, my sushi arrives. My mood had been killed and my hunger had dissipated. I did not even feel like eating one bite, but had the huge order to deal with. Knowing that the raw fish sushi would not survive a trip home in a doggy bag, I ate all the non vegetarian sushi before packing up the rest to take home. Eating that food made me feel yucky; I felt immensely guilty for wasting so much money on something I didn't even want. I didn't get to enjoy even one bite of that food. Such a shame.
Whatever I did eat just felt like a lead weight in my stomach.

I did one thing right over there. I paid for my nonsense in cash. Now I have 20 less dollars to last us the month, and I'm going to take that out of my part of the money. I'll just have to make sure to grocery shop very wisely and not buy a single other treat for the rest of the month to ensure that I have enough money to go around. Maybe that self enforced consequence will teach me a lesson.

Ok, enough of my embarrassing myself.
Why am I telling you all this?

Learn from my lesson. Please.

In all honesty, if I had made a true assessment of that purchase beforehand, I probably never would have gotten the sushi. Yes, I already knew that buying that nonsense was not something worth my money, but I didn't stop to think about it beforehand.
I never actually am happy with my decision to waste money on sushi, unlike some other wasteful venues. When I go out to dinner with my husband (once a year at most) I am willing to pay extra for the fond memories and relationship building it creates, even if the food isn't worth that 45 dollars. When I buy my son a present, that money goes towards making his face light up. Whether they're wise purchases or not is irrelevant- I don't regret them.
I do regret the sushi. When I look back on that expenditure, I don't have fond memories or enthusiasm or even tangible items to recall, just that feeling of a gluey stomach filled with food I had no desire to eat.

That skirt I told you about? If I had taken a good look at it and thought about whether or not I'd actually ever wear it, I'd probably have concluded that it would just sit in my closet indefinitely. My mistake was that I did not think about it.

The Lesson:
In order to prevent regretting purchases, take a good long think before buying something. Will I regret this purchase in 5 minutes? In a few hours or days? How about in a few months or years? If you know you will regret it, just don't get it.
Think about whether you'll have anything worthwhile left after spending that money? Will you have a great piece of clothing with which to expand your wardrobe, or a stronger relationship due to that dinner date? Or will you have only experienced ephemeral benefits, and all the goodness dissipates, leaving you just with a hole in your pocketbook?
Oh, and if at all possible, try to see if stores take returns. You don't have to stew over stupid purchases and fiscal mistakes you made if there is a way to return the item and get your money back. It may be embarrassing, but it's worth your while so you'll stop eating yourself about that bad decision.

Your Turn.
I embarrassed myself enough here. What past purchases came to mind when you read this thread? What stupid purchases have you made? I know I can't be the only one to have done such a thing...

P.S. What is it about blogging that makes you feel like you're in a confession booth???

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