Over at DebtKid, he’s feeling bad about a fairly recent purchase (a Nintendo DS Lite) and giving it away to one lucky reader. But like anyone miserable, he wants company, so he’s asking bloggers to share their dumbest purchases with him. Everyone who shares their story has a chance to win the DS. Honestly, I am not sure what a DS Lite is other than a video game system of some kind (although, if I won it, I am sure both my spouse and my son will be THRILLED) but I was interested in sharing my story so I thought I would.
I am going to choose my dumbest purchase ever not as one big thing, like my first car, or my current “My engine died before 100,000 miles” Saturn (although I probably could make a strong case for either), but more as a mindset I had that led to a long string of purchases.
I am a reformed addict of Bath and Body Works. Their marketing had me hook, line, and sinker. I don’t know how many of you have shopped in their stores, but they use two very tricky marketing ploys to hook you on spending tons of money there, and I completely fell for both of them over and over again – scarcity and special deals.
First, scarcity. Although they have a set of “core” scents that they tend to keep around for a long time, they also have special “seasonal” scents. Every few months, a set of scents comes out that are for a limited time, and you don’t know if they will ever return. The scents aren’t the same set every fall, for example, by the next fall they might have an entirely different line of seasonal scents. So if you like one – you’d better snatch it up right then or you may never see it again. Well, okay, but seriously, do you need to forever have every single scent you have ever thought smelled nice? No, of course not. But I bought lots of rather forgettable scents just because they were only available for a limited time. And I still have half-empty bottles of Pumpkin Pie, Hazelnut, Chocolate, Candy Apple (okay, so I like food scents) and probably a dozen others in my linen closet. They’re all nice (to me) but I could have just selected one I *really* liked and bought that, versus an assortment every season. Blackberry – that’s the one I should have bought two bottles of, instead of one bottle each of 25 different ones over the course of three or four years.
And that brings me to the special deals. Every time you walk into Bath and Body Works, they have some kind of special deal going on. 4 bottles for $25! 6 bottles for $30! Buy one, get one free! There is always something. And I *always* got the deal. Why pay $10 for one bottle when I can get 6 bottles for $30? That’s only $5 a bottle! What a savings!
Except – who needs 6 bottles of lotion? Especially every few months? I don’t. I use lotion every single day, sometimes twice a day, and still, I have tons and tons of Bath and Body Works stuff left over from my buying heyday (which I stopped doing several years ago, I might add). Even selling off a bunch of my unopened and unused bottles on craigslist, I still have more lotion than I probably can conceivably use in a lifetime. I was a huge sucker for their special deals, and I collected a lot of lotion that I didn’t need and honestly, some I didn’t even particularly want. But it was a good deal. Uh huh. It is only a good deal if the purchase is something you would make anyway or need to make anyway, not just because it is cheap. Ah, to be young and foolish again.
So my dumbest purchase was really my mindset about Bath and Body Works. I always walked in expecting to buy, and I always succumbed to their marketing strategies. I was their perfect customer. Until I realized I was seriously broke and quit cold turkey. I’m reformed now, and I know I am reformed because my mother-in-law gave me a $20 gift card this past Christmas to there, and I managed to go in, buy things I could really use, like bubble bath, and only spend $19.55 total. I really evaluated what I could use versus what would just sit on my shelf, sniffed twice and used once, and did not spend any money at all out of pocket.
It would be really easy to fall back into that spending trap again, though. I am a sucker for pretty smells. I used Victoria Secret’s “Passionate Kisses” today as my morning lotion as a symbolic protest against my Bath and Body Works addiction. Not that I was a better Victoria’s Secret shopper… but that is a story for another day. Too bad you can’t resell underwear…