Friday, November 25, 2011
On Black Friday, what is wrong with us?
I just came across a video of Walmart shoppers trampling one another to grab $2 waffle makers. And I'm horrified -- not because I'm too good to enter into the Black Friday fracas, but because I have. And given the right set of circumstances, I could have been one of those waffle-iron-clamoring folks.
You can see the video by pasting the link below into your browser. The shot of the woman at the :16 mark -- the woman with the short blond hair and too-tight blue t-shirt -- is especially cringe-worthy. Enjoy.
What happens to us when we see a sign that advertises something for less than it's actually worth? Even the most refined of us can turn into barbarians at the gate. And most of the time, we're wasting money, as we're throwing it away on things we don't need and never, ever would have purchased if the sales didn't beckon us.
We're so, so stupid. I'm of course including myself here, as I jumped on the couponing train a few weeks ago. I had covered and written a story about a local woman who does a great job of saving money with coupons; she's not the kind of scary, hoarder-ish extreme couponer you see on the TLC show, but she's halved her family's budget since she began using coupons consistently and responsibly.
Read about her here:
So of course I decide that I'd like to halve my family's budget, too. I clip coupons for a couple of weeks, stick them in a school-supply box, and hit the grocery store. Sure, I use my coupons, but as a result, I spend more than I've ever spent at Hy-Vee in my entire life. Why? Because quite a few of the items for which I had coupons are things I would not normally buy. (Note: In all fairness to the coupon lady, she had warned us not to do this.)
The moral of the story? I can't be trusted with coupons that advertise deep discounts because, no matter what, I will use them. Seventy-five-percent off a springform pan? It's mine, even though I know I'll never in my life make a cheesecake from scratch. A dollar off a roll of paper towels that normally costs $1.39? I'm there, and I'm buying a bunch of them, even though they're so flimsy that I have to wad together three of them to wipe up a spill. A men's razor that neither my son nor husband needs? I have to grab it, you see, because it's free when you purchase the razor blades.
Here I am, then, on Black Friday afternoon. I had promised myself I'd stay put, but lo and behold, the mall -- and my daughter -- are beckoning. I have some coupons clipped and ready to go, and on my honor, they're for things I really, really can use and would have purchased anyway.
Wait, so you're questioning whether I really need that archery set, the coffee-table book on cats, the ice skates or the 70" x 70" white board? Hmpf. You obviously don't know me very well. :)