GUEST COLUMN: Get your money’s worth
Monday, 18 February 2013 by Mark Magnan
We all like a good deal and basically want to save money, or are just outright cheapskates. We like to find bargains or sales. It makes us feel like we have accomplished things. Now I like a good deal as much as the next guy, but I will pay extra for something a bit better at times. I try to be diligent and spend my money wisely, but sometimes that might mean paying more for something of better quality or for other reasons. I have openly stated that when given the choice I will buy an American made product, even if it costs more. I have even gone so far as to buy an American made item that I didn't really need. I think that is a trend we need to continue.
But my thoughts for the week are about how we spend money and why. We all like nice things and are willing to sacrifice for them, at times. If I had my way I would drive an exotic sports car, and a full-blown redneck pickup truck, with loud pipes and big tires. I guess I am not willing to sacrifice that much right now. A lot of people will buy a Cadillac, which is a nice luxurious car. But what sets it apart from say, a fully loaded Chevy or Buick. I have seen nice pickup trucks with the exact same knobs, buttons and features as a big Caddy SUV that costs significantly more. Do we desire the name on the side or is there something about the luxury vehicle that is truly better. Granted there are some options that are available on some brands but not on others. But it seems like every car company makes a high end luxury line, why do we value those more than the standard line? Maybe it really is that little chrome emblem on the outside that increases the value.
Everywhere we go we see our frugal spirit being talked to. We see pricing in stores that ends with 99 cents, well that is just one small penny away from the next full dollar, so our mind is somehow tricked into believing we are saving more than that little penny. Many fast food restaurants have a "dollar" menu. Instead of a burger and fries for five dollars, you get five items, smaller yes, but more, so we have made our lunch into a good deal. Also stores will lure you into another trap, buying more than you need. With a few clever phrases and some mathematical magic they will offer multiples of the same item at a reduced price. You may save only a few cents by this move, but you spend more on the extra items. Now that might be a good idea if the multiple items are food and you have teenagers at home. My question is; if you can sell two at the reduced price why must I pay an up charge for just getting one? And let's give us a good deal on multiple cartons of Blue Bell, that is something we can all enjoy. Saving a few pennies on the extra can of spinach isn't near as exciting.
Clothes are something that I tend to shop for. I believe that a better quality is worth a bit more. I buy name brand in certain items because I trust them to last longer. Also there are styles that I wouldn't wear regardless of the price. One good thing about Texas is that when summer clothes go on sale we still have a few months worth of hot weather left. Winter clothes and coats last a lifetime for us because we only wear them a fraction of the time that our northern neighbors do. I have a nice name brand canvas jacket that is still as stiff as a garden hose in January after a couple of seasons, I figure a couple more cold winters will soften it up a bit.
The ultimate in good deals can be found daily on TV. We see many varieties of items for sale. Amazing inventions that lead us to ponder how we lived without these up to this point. And there is a ridiculous act showing just how durable or strong the item really is, running over the item with a car, using something harsh to scratch it, or just generally abusing it like we wouldn't think of doing in our own home. But the truly amazing thing is that the product is such a great bargain, but wait, if you happen to be quick and call right away you can get an extra one, plus some other goodies to clutter up the cabinets. By the time this is all totaled up the value is well over $200, but just because the company likes to save you money they will do you a favor and sell the bundle for $19.99 (here is the 99 cent thing again). How can anyone in their right mind pass up such a great deal. But if the product is so wonderful and lasts forever, why would I want or need two of them. Perhaps I am just well prepared, with all the money I am saving I will soon be able to afford a chateau in the mountains where I can use the extra set of everything I get for free, well except for the extra shipping cost. I think I might stick to the two-for-one sales on ice cream, I want to live for the moment.