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Delayed Gratification: The frugalist’s secret weapon

Over the weekend, M’hijito and I dropped by a Cost Plus (World Market) in hopes of finding some stylish and cheap outdoor furniture to decorate the newly refurbished yard. And did we hit the jackpot!

The past few months, we’ve admired various pieces of Late Downscale Designer furnishings there but generally thought they were too expensive. I’ve lusted after some faux teak outdoor tub chairs, very comfortable and kinda nifty-looking, and he has coveted various tile-topped tables and faux teak dining sets.

The tub chairs normally cost $100 apiece. And though they’re very nice, I’m sure, I never felt the quality was worth a hundred bucks. Especially since I already had some perfectly fine second-hand outdoor chairs. Once, feeling flush, I almost succumbed to temptation, but then personfully managed to resist. As for the dining set: the table was over $300 and each chair was $100. Nine hundred bucks plus 8.8 percent tax was outside M’hijito’s price range, and so for him such a purchase didn’t even rise to the level of temptation.

Well. Today when we visited the Camelback store, they were trying to move the last of their seasonal outdoor furniture off the floor. Oddly, in other parts of the country, summer is almost over (for us, outdoor season will return in about a month). So, just when we’re wanting to buy outdoor stuff, it all goes on sale.

And what a sale! Everything was marked down 75 percent!

There wasn’t much left, alas…but fortunately, Cost Plus is a cookie-cutter chain. The manager called around the city and located the pieces we coveted—four tub chairs for moi, two tub chairs for M’hijito, a table, and four side chairs—in Chandler, a quarter-tank of gas from our part of town. By the time the loot was found and claimed, it was too late on Saturday afternoon for us to drive halfway to the Mexican border, so we made the trek the next day, on Sunday.

What an incredible buy! M’hijito got a handsome faux-teak trestle table that seats six people plus six matching chairs for $231! I got four of the chairs I’ve quietly been coveting for the original price of one.

One of the frugalist’s most important strategies is to think twice about buying stuff you think you want. Pick it up, look at it, put it back down, and then take time to think about whether you really need the object of your current dreams. It won’t go away within the next couple of days. Often if you leave the store without it, you’ll find that on reflection you really don’t have such a crying need for it. If, on reflection, you do decide you need it, want it, and can afford it, then you can be confident that you’ve made the right decision.

And, as we see in this sterling example, sometimes when you come back to something you’ve resisted buying, you’ll find it’s on sale. Delay buying seasonal items, especially clothing, holiday gear, and outdoor items, until the designated “season” is almost over, and you often can almost name your price for the stuff.

Heeee! Seventy-five bucks for a sturdy, handsome table that seats six!