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Monday, October 7, 2013

Always Do the Math: Saying No to Bargains

I generally feature all my little frugalities as I wend my way through Big Lots, Goodwill, and similar venues. Nevertheless, I am full of material desires. Usually frugality wins out. That's good, because I have too much. Like many women of my age (middle) and class (middle), I yearn for Eileen Fisher clothes. But--and here's the frugal side--I don't find them a good value (your call may be different) and--sorry--I can't spend so much on a rayon tee shirt. It just bothers me.

Out of the blue, two weeks ago, I got an offer from the tempting catalog Garnet Hill--spend $100 on full-priced items and you would receive a $100 gift card to buy whatever by the end of October. Miss Em--who received the same offer and one with only a $50 gift card--urged me to do it. She said "Get some of the stuff you've been mooning over."

I didn't do it, however. I figured that--at best--unless something great was put on sale, I would be getting two items for half off--and that didn't count the shipping costs. Naturally, on Friday a new offer popped up: 40% off knit shirts, including two desired Eileen Fishers!! The perfect use for the gift card! Oh I felt sorry for myself. Miss Em emailed from Serbia, "I can't believe you turned down free money!"

So I did the math and now I feel better. To start, I would have bought an Eileen Fisher tee shirt dress for $100. With my gift card, I would have bought two EF shirts at 40% off, totaling around $130. With shipping, I would spend around $260 minus $100, for a total of $160.

Is that a great deal? The retail on the three items is around $320. So, really, even with the sale on the second set, I would have saved 50%. Good, but not great. I also would have bought 3 items, instead of the one (a long top) I really wanted.

Miss Em has the Eileen Fisher tee shirt dress and I've worn it a few times in her absence. She got it for $10.00 at Twice as Nice, a much-missed resale store in Alabama. I can wear it, but it's a little small (it's XS). When I showed Miss Em the math on the offer, she said the deal wasn't as good as it first seemed. And then she said, "You can have the tee shirt dress. I've got other black dresses."

I still kind of yearn for the EF pieces, but doing the math made me feel better. Also, I really don't need the items. I always do the math. Do you?

And, dear Miss Em, thanks for the beautiful dress. I love it.

P.S. No links. To keep you from temptation.

6 comments:

Shelley said...

I agree with doing the math to avoid impulse decisions. I'm not so sure about denying yourself something you really want. Fair enough if you really don't think that a rayon t-shirt by EF isn't worth the money. Then again, why do you still want one?

Years ago I splashed out big style on three items from Agnes B in Paris: a black cardigan, a grey pullover and a black chenelle skirt. I've worn them to bits and they are all on their last legs, maybe 8-9 years later. I think I paid around 200-250 Euros for the lot, easily the most expensive clothes I had ever purchased. So, when we were in Paris last spring, we visited Agnes B again and I bought a linen/cotton mariner style long sleeved T for 129 Euros. I wear it for any occasion when I want something that makes me feel a little special. I'm very careful if I wear it when eating! I hope hopes that with care this with last me a number of years, but of course I don't know that will be the case.

I do know that even after retiring there are still occasions when I want 'clothing as armour' and it helps to have something I can pull out of the closet. I don't seem to find 'armour' at thrift stores. Perhaps you do?

Janice Riggs said...

There's a world full of Eileen Fisher clothing available on ebay, Tradesy, and other resale outlets. I know that a lot of women buy more clothes than they EVER wear, and they eventually end up being resold - I'm always happy to take advantage of that avenue of economy!

But more importantly, your intelligent analysis is refreshing to read; I'm so happy someone can see through these marketing schemes and resist them - it gives me hope for the education of humanity.

tess said...

Coupons or not, I couldn't justify laying out that kind of moolah for new clothes. It does make me curious to know what they look like and to see if I can find used at a thrift store or elsewhere. Even my wedding gown was previously used and remade for me. Old satin, both mermaidy and sailorish with a long glorious train.

Duchesse said...

@ Janice: So right!

For at least 15 yrs I've tried to love EF and I don't. I find the clothes sexless and not all that well cut- and I •live for• austere, simple clothes. So I should covet EF, and I don't. I've owned several pieces, bought in consignment shops. They were wearable but not my favourites.

The fabrics are very good, but the cut, with its absence of darts and its unrelenting rectangularity, did not give me any shape.

I sometimes admire them on other women, and at times thing they are just too characterless.

So you don't have to protect me by omitting that link ;)

Frugal Scholar said...

@Shelley--I really want too much! And I have too much! I have tons of armour from thrift stores--though I've always pined for something from Agnes B.

@Janice--Wow! Thanks for commenting. I find the pickings (for ME) on ebay et al are not so good and end up costing more than on-sale at regular stores.

I'm still a little sad about my "missed opportunity." Ridiculous!

@tess--I'm a thrift store overbuyer. My "wedding dress"--just a green dress--was bought from a student at a yard sale. My sister-in-law got a dress at a flea market that had been made from a damask table cloth. Yours sounds gorgeous!

@Duchesse--EF suits my on the thin-side (sort of) totally flat-chested with a slight tummy middle-aged body. Strangely, my tall skinny daughter also loves it. I think you are more curvy...???

SewingLibrarian said...

Duchesse, I can't tell you how happy I am to find someone else who doesn't like EF. I look terrible in anything I've tried on from that line. I need more structure and shaping - maybe it's my narrow and sloping shoulders.