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Friday, March 03, 2006

Good impulse buys, bad impulse buys

The Bargain Queen went shopping last night to buy face scrub, deodorant and mini Post-It notes. She came home with face scrub, deodorant, a mini photo album ($2), a set of mini screwdrivers ($3) and chocolate... yum!

The Bargain Queen knows that the easiest way to stick to a budget, is to buy only the things she intended to buy. So how did this happen? Mostly, it happened because it was surprisingly hard work to find these three meager items. What was supposed to be a one shop, five minute, doesn't-even-count-as-shopping trip became the sort of extended search which is only expected when shopping for clothes or presents.

Initially, The Bargain Queen went to BiLo because they're cheapest when they actually have stuff. They were sold out of the face scrub and don't stock the deodorant or mini Post-Its. Then Coles was exactly the same... except in the process of looking for them, The Bargain Queen found the photo album and screwdrivers, and then in the long wait in line, succumbed to $1.50 worth of Lindt chocolates. Naughty Bargain Queen. Finally The Bargain Queen went to KMart where they had the face scrub and deodorant, but no mini Post-Its. (What's with that? They have six different kinds of normal-sized Post-Its, but no minis. Why bother going there when they've got rid of most of the less-popular stock, so they have the same stuff as Coles, just more of it? But enough ranting.)

So even though The Bargain Queen bought things she didn't intend to get when she went to the store, it rates as a good shopping trip. So what distinguishes these impulse buys as 'good'?
  • They're useful. The photo album will hold a few wedding photos in The Bargain Queen's purse; the screwdrivers make it possible to fix a broken pair of sunglasses that currently cannot be worn.
  • They're actually needed. The photo album had been on a previous shopping list, and it had crossed The Bargain Queen's mind a couple of days ago that her own set of mini screwdrivers would be a good thing to have. So technically, the chocolate was the only real impulse purchase.
  • They're not duplicates. The photo album and screwdrivers are new additions to The Bargain Queen's possessions. (In the bad old days when she was horribly disorganised, The Bargain Queen would occasionally buy something, then find she had an almost identical item at home when she next tidied up... oops!)
  • They're cheap. An occasional impulse buy is fun, and if it's only $6.50 all up, it doesn't seem like anything to worry about. If it happened every day though, that would be a different matter.
  • They're not fashion items. Chocolate, screwdrivers and photo albums are not especially trend-effected items. Which means, it's unlikely The Bargain Queen has caught a whiff of the zeitgeist and decided to buy these because they're the current hot thing.
As for the purple metallic staples The Bargain Queen almost bought, they were expensive, trendy and The Bargain Queen already has staples, albeit not purple. So they stayed on the shelf at KMart and The Bargain Queen gets to keep her shopping kudos.

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