Did you ever get a lesson thrown in your face you just have to sit back and say I had better pay attention to this one? This recently happened to me where I saw first hand how being indecisive costs money and more than the money aspect of it, time. Well let me start off by saying this, I am not a fan of shopping. I think it is a big waste of time. I only shop when I need something. When I shop I am in and out of the mall within 30 minutes, if not less. Plus I rarely return something, when I do it is for some random reason. Recently while shopping with friends I watched them meticulously look at items, try them on, purchase them to then only return them the next day. Seriously, the time you spent doing that could have been used so much more efficiently. I heard statements like, yes she buys a lot but she returns a lot too. Seriously, what a huge waste of time.
I see clients struggle with a stack of items that need to go back to the store. They have either misplaced the receipt of they simply have not had the time to return the items. First I ask them to figure out how much their time is worth and to see if it is worth returning the item or simply placing it in the donation box. I am not talking about high ticket items here, just the everyday items of life. It could be the wrong shampoo or laundry detergent.
I have worked with client’s who have stacks and stacks of receipts that they don’t know what to do with. When asking them why they have them the reason is always the same, “in case I have to return it”. In the same breath they always tell me that they can never find the receipts if they do need to return it. We develop a rule of thumb that they only keep receipts for a certain length of time or if it over a certain dollar amount
I have watched people make multiple hotel room reservations for a trip only to have to go through the painful exercise of canceling them the night before their trip. I can barely keep track of the one I made, let alone 3 reservations. That is time they will never get back.
I have watched people exchange tickets to a show only to decide later that they changed their mind and don’t want to go to the show after all and then have to try to get rid of the show tickets. Once again, time they will never get back.
I have been guilty of going up and down the grocery isles trying to decide what to have for dinner because I didn’t take 2 minutes to plan it out ahead of time. What should have been a 5 minute trip to the store ended up being 30 minutes and costing me several more dollars than I originally intended.
When I worked in a clothing store while I was in law school (aka a long, long time ago) we had a customer that would come and spend hours trying on clothes, buy $500 worth of clothes and then return them all within a week. It was obvious to me that shopping was her hobby.
When I hear people tell me they are busy, are they really busy or could they be making better use of their time? We are all given the same 24 hours in a day, figure out how best to make use of your time. Our time is worth something.
Here are my tips when shopping:
- Go with a list.
- Buy with purpose, as in I need a new black pair of pants.
- Plan on never returning the item and purchase as if you can’t ever return it.
- Shop when the store is not busy.
- Don’t buy something just because it is a “good deal”, as those are the items that you regret buying the most.
- Figure out how much your time is worth and see if it is worth your time to return the item.
- Keep receipts for certain amount of time and then throw them.
- Keep receipts for high ticket items and get rid of the rest.
- Don’t take me with you!
To Joyful, Simplified Living,
MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity. She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at http://www.ididit-fargo.com/.
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