Friday, 15 April 2011

When Saving Money Becomes Expensive

We've all had those regretful moments of uncertainly when we've been out shopping... All those times you've found something you kind of fancy but know you shouldn't really buy, think perhaps is not quite right or can't quite afford. Invariably you don't buy the tempting object and later, once at home with time to mull over your decision, you wish you'd been more spontaneous and just bought it, perhaps even actively searching for the item weeks afterwards.

To this day, I still regret not buying some plastic PVC effect black and white wedge trainers when I was about fifteen. Honestly. I still shop with one eye open, half expecting to see their reflective charms, even though my taste has somewhat changed since my teenage years and I'd probably never wear them. Another more recent regret is my failure to try on some dark navy knee high boots in Krakow. Having already fairly thoroughly searched shoe shops in every city I'd visited, I'd established dark navy is clearly not currently a fashionable colour – particularly not in boots. Finding them in Krakow, was something of a small miracle but of course the timing wasn't good because I had very little money. Instead of walking away without trying the boots on, I should have at least given them a go because now I have that constant niggling uncertainty as to whether they'd have been perfect or not. I'm not going back to the city anytime soon and now in my head I have the perfect boot inaccessibly tucked away in a Polish shopping centre. I'm sure if I'd just tried it on, I would have either bought the damn thing or would have found them to be not so perfect – either way I could stop mentally berating myself and perhaps even abort the navy boot mission.

Sometimes I even manage to take over-conscious shopping one step further by refusing to purchase certain items if above a set price – particularly if this price is considerably higher than that normally found in said shop. A classic example of this was my failure to buy a grey and black horizontally striped skirt in Primark. At £9 the skirt was above my standard £5 mark for skirts (I know that's a tough call but hey, I'm not lowering my expectations) and also in excess of the pricing for a similar style Primark skirt. I “uhmmed and ahhhed” for so long over this garment, I eventually decided to purchase it in the sale. You can of course guess what happened next.... Yes, in the sale they no longer had it in my size! So, what did I do? Unlike an ordinary person, I didn't give up – instead I asked my parents and unofficial honorary in-laws to check branches local to them, while I trundled across London to all the Primark stores in the capital, went to Bradford, tried the other Leeds branch and even managed to convince my poor long-suffering boyfriend to take a trip to Wakefield. Of course, having wasted all this petrol money and still not succeeded, I may as well have forked out the original £9. I'm glad to say the story's not a wholly unhappy one as I eventually got the same skirt in white and black in the sale for £5, purchased some fabric dye and made my own almost identical black/grey skirt.

Unfortunately dye isn't always the answer. The Boy and I adopted an Ikea sofa-bed from his parents and having finally decorated the flat's spare bedroom, decided we needed a purple sofa cover. Covers in Ikea all cost somewhere between £70 and £100 but pink ones in the sale were a mere £30. We got the pink covers and purchased some washing machine fabric dye but of course the covers were too large for our washing machine and all the local laundrettes we asked, did not allow dye in their machines. Managing to swap the machine dye for cold water hand wash dye, seemed like the perfect answer – at least in theory. The covers were huge and took virtually a day and a half of continuous exhausting ringing and pummelling before they dried almost the same colour they began. The whole exercise was a complete waste of money, energy, water and my time. Not to mention the fact, I ended up with purple tinted hands AND right before an interview!

The final solution seemed to be to buy fabric spray but having used a whole can, once again the colour had barely altered (all for a few patchy blobs) and a whole £10 canister hardly covered one side of a two part cover. We've both since had to admit defeat and will either recycle the stubbornly pink covers at the tip, boot sale or freecyle them. We're still without purple covers so now face either forking out for a large suitably coloured throw or the full price of non-sale covers (on top of the £50 we've already wasted on various dyes and the ill-fated pink covers!). Again - ridiculous but true (and I haven't even been featured on Ripley's Believe It Or Not).

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