I have a confession: I shopped on Black Friday.

I know. A lot of people shopped on Black Friday. This difference is, although it was in the budget, I hadn’t planned on it. I had planned on staying put at my in-laws’ house and doing absolutely nothing except reading, eating leftovers and keeping the money in my wallet. But my husband and daughter wanted to take a little jaunt to go visit my mother-in-law who just happens to work retail. In an outlet mall. And her store? Is across the street from The Children’s Place.
The Children’s Place is a store that, for years, I was able to avoid. The clothes didn’t fit my daughter that well and they were more than we could afford.  Then, all of a sudden, the clothes did fit her well and we could afford them. Let me clarify: we could afford them as long as they were on sale (I have a great deal of difficulty parting with a $25 for a single pair of jeans for my 5-year-old).  And when you shop at an outlet store? Everything is always on sale.
So off I went, with daughter (and disgruntled husband) in tow. When we walked in we were greeted with the fact that everything in the store was 40% off and we had a 20% off coupon for purchases over $50. I knew we were going to spend over $50 because a) things like that happen and b) my daughter happened  to need a lot of clothes. In the end, I wound up purchasing 4 pairs of pants, 1 skirt, 6 shirts and 1 pair of pajamas for $70 (including tax, and we got a free stuffed monkey that normally retails for $9.95. Another perk of the over $50 purchase). I was pretty pleased with the deal.
After we were done at The Children’s Place, we went back over to my mother-in-law’s store. She works in an undergarment store and they were running a deal where bras were on sale for $16.99 if you bought 3. There was also a coupon they were handing out at the door for 25% off your total purchase. If you did the quick math, combining the sale price with the coupon meant that you could essentially get 4 bras for the sale price of $16.99. Anyone who’s ever needed to buy a bra knows that this was a great deal.
It took every ounce of willpower I had not to purchase those bras. I know that if I had mentioned it, my mother-in-law would have bought them for me with her employee discount but I don’t feel comfortable with that. Not only do I not feel comfortable with the concept of her buying me my bras, I don’t want her to use her employee discount for me. It’s a moral/ethical dilemma that I’m still trying to work on. But I digress…
I really wrestled with it because I recognized that this was a great deal. It’s not often that you can get 4 bras for $50. And recognizing that a deal really is a great deal is one of my basic tenets of shopping. Like most savvy shoppers, I try to save money where I can and this means using a critical eye on coupons and sales. I am aware that perhaps the clothes I purchased for my daughter was not the greatest deal that could have been had, but when I think about the fact that I saved approximately what I spent, it isn’t too shabby. Especially when I weigh it against the durability and length of time she will wear the clothes.
Another of my basic tenets that made me abstain from buying the bras was the fact that I always shop with a plan and a budget. Buying the bras was not in the plan nor was it in the budget. I could have used some extra money to purchase the bras, and perhaps I should have. But my overwhelming need to stay within my budget prevailed over the fact that I probably should have seized this sale. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so rational.
I’m sure that this is not the last time I’ll be torn between a good deal and my need to stay in my budget. Perhaps I should learn to plan better. Perhaps I should have an emergency shopping fund. Perhaps I should learn to let go of my budget a bit. But all of this is a struggle for me.
How do you handle this type of situation?

Jana Lynch
Jana Lynch