S4L Book Club – Cheap

Here’s a link to a ten-minute YouTube video where Ellen Ruppel Shell explains what led her to research and write Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture.

Ellen acknowledges that she is what psychologists call a “deal-prone person.” The prospect of getting a good deal can motivate her to buy, and thinking she’s gotten a good deal is extremely satisfying to her.

Would you call yourself a deal-prone person?

I think I have been in the past, but I’m much less so today. As a teen, I began working at age 15 primarily so I could buy my own clothes, shoes, etc. I loved big sales and outlets. I know I bought things I didn’t need, and I suspect I bought things I didn’t love, just to have something new and because it was a good deal.

Somewhere along the road to adulthood, I decided I would rather work less—or do lower-paying work that I enjoyed—and do without than work more and have more. And I decided I would rather spend my money on travel and experiences than new clothes, new cars, electronics, and other stuff. I like a good deal on something I need to buy, but a good deal is not by itself inducement to buy, nor is it a satisfying end in itself.

In truth, I’m an impatient shopper, and real deal hunting requires patience. I tend to buy the same things, visit the same stores, and not pay a whole lot of attention to prices, satisfied that I consume relatively little and thus am less subject to being screwed on prices.

Even though I don’t consider myself “deal-prone,” I do consider myself Cheap simply because my income is fairly low. The things I choose to buy generally aren’t the most expensive of their kind. I would like a good-quality toaster that’s going to last for years, but am I willing and able to pay for a very expensive one? Not necessarily.

What about you–do you consider yourself deal-prone like Ellen, Cheap like me, or something else?

Categories: Reading