Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bitter-sweet Savings

I get daily news headlines and alerts emailed directly to my phone throughout the day to keep the journalist in me satisfied and up-to-date. And while it's a good thing to be informed, it can be a killer on morale...especially when the 4pm alerts arrive with the NYSE closing numbers.

Today the Dow dropped 350 points because of some unfavorable forecasts in technology and more possible cutbacks in oil production. The thought of paying closer to 5 bucks a gallon at the pump by the end of the summer was utterly depressing, so I did what I always do for a pick me up...I went to the mall.

But even at the mall, the tell tales signs of an economy in crisis were visible. Literally. Every store is on sale right now, with sale windows and displays from floor to ceiling. And not just a little discount here and there. Most places are offering 40% to 70%!

Usually a ginormous sale would be ecstacy...but here's the rub: I don't even have extra funds to enjoy the sales the way I'd like to, because the economy is so messed up! The irony is nauseating.

In order to maximize my money and get the best out of the "on-sale" retail trend, I have come up with 3 rules that help me make the most from a bad (economic) situation:

1) Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize. It maybe be tempting to buy that $160 Ikat dress (down from $535), but what type of longevity is it going to have in your wardrobe? You can get the feel of whatever look you are going for by getting good accessories! And by good, I don't mean Claire's or Icing. You're not 13, sweetie.

2) Shop around before you buy! Its easy to spot a sale sign in one store and get sucked in, but with so many great deals out there, it is worth your time to get a good lay of the land. You'll have more chances to find great stuff, plus it may alleviate buyer's remorse if you get $300 dollars worth of final sale merch, then walk next door only to find something better! (and believe me, this stuff is final sale! Stores want to keep your money, not mess around with returns or credit on slow-moving items.)

3) Avoid impulse buying based on price. A $5 price tag does not universally translate into "take me home!" Ask yourself, honestly, do you love it? Will you wear it? and most importantly, if you don't get it, will the money be better off still in your wallet? Sometimes you can find great penny-pincher deals on the chic-est of things, but don't waste cash on great deals that aren't great buys.

I don't know when the dollar is going to regain its strength in the global market, but in the meantime, I intend for the dollars I have to work as best they can. I am a shopper, darn it, and the Federal Reserve can't take that away from me!

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