Hoi Yee: Buyers beware: It’s not a bargain!

From childhood, I have been conditioned to seek out bargains, to shop around, compare, and think before I buy.  I used to think that people who buy spontaneously are careless and have no financial sense.

But now I am going to revamp my approach:  I notice that if I put time into looking around, and comparing prices, I will inevitably be tempted to buy something else as well.  When I go to a department store, I pick up a pack of cotton underwear, only to be told that if I buy two more packets, I’ll benefit from an additional 15% discount.  Then, when I go to the cashier, a pleasant young lady will encourage me to buy one more jar of jam because the special offer ends today, and of course, “Don’t forget to drop by the lady’s casual wear.  They have final mark-downs for this spring collection,” she tells me urgently with a glitter in her eyes.

So one measly piece of underwear has morphed into a 3 year supply of knickers, and a crate of jams (that’ll probably expire before my family finishes them all), and a dress that I’m already thinking I may return.  So, I’ll have crowding in my wardrobe, and clutter in my pantry.  And, I’ll need time and that receipt (where did I put it?) to return that damn dress!

I envy those who have a neat knicker drawer, pantry items that are used, and a sparse closet.

Buy less, use less, and be free is my new motto.

Julia:  Getting light into our home has always been a bit of an issue!  I like mellow lighting, so we live rather like moles – in perpetual dimness.  Our home has a cosy warm feel, but none of us can read the small print in a favourite old book!

In an attempt to deal with the lack of light, an eclectic collection of small lamps litters every surface; walls, the top of cupboards, bookcases, and desk tops

But, the strange thing is, we rarely go “lamp shopping”.  Yet, somehow we always seem to be adding to our collection.   Strolling through a Spanish town, we may pass a lamp shop.  “Just a quick look,” we’ll agree.  Two hours later we’re struggling to fit the new purchase in among our suitcases of the hire car.  Our latest acquisition is an out-of-work bugle with a shade on top that we found at a garden fair in England.

The best thing about our lamp-buying is that it’s spontaneous.

“What do you think?” one of us’ll say, gazing at a brass elephant topped with a lily shaped shade, or a hand-painted Chinese lantern.

“Fine,” we’ll reply.  We’ve had to become terribly open-minded about each other’s choices.

Spontaneous lamp buying has become a family trait – we never know what’ll appear in our home next!  But, you can be fairly sure that, however gorgeous the lamp, the light it emits will probably still be limited to about a 6 inch sphere!