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I no longer shop after-Christmas sales

Posted: December 27, 2008 5:06 p.m.
Updated: December 28, 2008 4:55 a.m.
I abstain from this annual shopping obsession to appease that devilish side of me that is magnetized by clearance racks throughout the year.

I used to feel guilty about this unnatural attraction I privately harbor toward mega sales, but once my favorite red-letter store started lining its women's clothing racks with more drastic reduction tags than full-price ones I threw all self-control into the shredder and charged right into hopeless addiction.

I have a list of excuses for my embarrassing "habit" and I'm not afraid to use them. My favorites are: "We're going into a depression. I better stock up," "They keep changing the style and I don't look good in anything else," and "I better buy it now. I won't have money later."

In an effort to even the scorecard between my husband Vince and myself, I decided to stop nagging him about the ridiculous frivolity of his own spending. After all, Mr. Paycheck labors tirelessly for his money.

Why not be happy he eats a few of the grapes of his labor?

Needless to say, Mr. I've Been Redeemed jumped for joy, and his first purchase was a used motorcycle in need of repair.

God bless him. He's being thrifty.

Then came the now "classic" 1970s fully restored motorcycle for the kids - the same Yamaha Mini Enduro he rode as a lad.

Sweet. He wants to share a memory. After that we needed a parts bike for breakdowns. And of course the inevitable four-wheel ATV for the wife, who is too physically inept to hold a two-wheeler upright.
When he was done I felt a sigh of relief.

Finally. No more boy toys to buy. My bad. I forgot the old car in the yard.

It's a classic low-slung compact sedan from the '80s with four new racing tires, highly expensive refurbished air conditioning and a foreign turbocharger that can only be maintained by a specialist.

"After all we've invested, we can't just let it rot," he said.

Okay. This is getting expensive. Anyone who knows my husband would agree he is a beacon of rationality and reason. But when I tip-toed ever so softly around the idea of curbing the splurging, Godzilla stomped down the hall and produced a gift bag stuffed with clearance-item receipts.

Oops. How did that happen?

I'm thankful, though. My Love is such a mature individual when it comes to giving up bad habits that when he plopped on the bed, threw his head in the pillow and stuck his bottom lip out, I knew he was ready to move on to financial stability and a more productive pastime: buying new cars. "There's not much money out of pocket," he reasoned. "It's just a small monthly bill."

Now I admit I have reaped the benefit of this nightmarish habit as he usually buys these cars for me.
Good public relations on his part. But if I'd have known when it started what it would morph into ... well.

It all started that night several years ago when the cold November wind pushed up against the house as I carefully transferred my nutritionally perfect, freshly picked steamed peas into a bowl and placed them lovingly on the newly polished dining room table where my lemon-scented children sat. (Maybe the table was lemon scented.)

Whatever it was, I was in no way responsible for what was about to occur. The phone rang and I innocently picked it up.

"Honey. This guy wants to sell us a brand-new van for just $355 a month. Whaddaya think?"

I thought he was at the hospital picking up his father, who had just been released.

Talk about being distracted!

But instead of addressing the matter at hand, an indiscernible dolphin-like utterance whaled from my gut that was intended to convey my Darling of Life the name of my divorce lawyer. Assuming Mr. Dealmaker got the impact of my message, I was quite astounded when he showed up at the house two hours later without his father but in possession of a big white van and an excited smile.

"I got it for $299 a month. It was such a deal!"

After the van purchase there was the compact car, the mini SUV, the SUV, truck one, truck two and truck three.

Oh. And of course the ultimate purchase: the midlife-crisis car: a teal convertible Volvo C70 turbo convertible he could barely fold himself into that ran like it had endured Hurricane Katrina.

I've given up and decided I might as well join him. If I can blame him for spending more money than I do, then my multiple purchases don't look so bad. It's no wonder we're always in financial crisis. No wonder we're all in a credit crunch. Next thing you know my favorite buyer will want to buy houses. Lord have mercy. I can hear it now.

"But ... but ... it's such a deal!"

Michelle Lovato is a Signal staff writer. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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