Careful Shopping

This past Sunday, I went to the Home Show with my parents and younger sister. The Home Show and Flower and Patio Show are two annual events that I love to attend; I get so many ideas! I love remodeling and landscaping projects, so these shows are right up my alley.

The being said, these types of shows are known for having pushy vendors, out for fast sales. There are numerous “show specials” designed at making people rush into a purchase. For that reason, I typically try to avoid speaking to the vendors. Be polite, but firm. Be quick to walk away. Don’t make eye contact!

This was the first time I’ve been to a show with my parents. I thought I knew what to expect; My Mom rarely speaks to people in public. She’s the type of person who turns beet red when a stranger tries talking to her. So you can imagine my surprise when 10 feet inside the door my Mom pounced on the first vendor. Table after table, my parents were speaking to people, collecting estimates and information along the way. What was going on here?

My parents have been following the Dave Ramsey plan for several years. They’ve restructured their lives so they could reduce their spending. They’ve been using the envelope system for all of their spending. They followed the debt snowball, and will be paying off the last of their debts (except the mortgage) in the next few months. Given their ages, and my Mom’s health history, they tweaked the system to fit their priorities; they have more than a $1,000 emergency fund, and are also saving some towards retirement, since it isn’t that far off for them. Once their other debts are destroyed, they’ll begin saving more aggressively for retirement, and paying down the mortgage.

So what was going on at the Home Show? It turns out, smart shopping. Once the debts are paid off, there are a few things around the house they need to be taken care of: The flooring in the Dining Room needs replaced. They’ll need a new roof in the next few years. And their mattress is causing them both issues and needs replaced. So, they’re pricing things out. They’ve already found the type of mattress they want, and have been pricing it for more than a year. When the salesman at the booth was pushing about “lowest price you’ll ever see” and “last day for these kinds of deals”, my Mom was easily able to walk away. “Labor Day prices are better, and that’s more in line with when we’re thinking of buying” she said with a shrug. If he’d really had the lowest prices? Well, then she’d know they should wait another year. They didn’t come to buy, they came for more information.

Technically that’s the whole point of these shows, to put vendors and customers together so people can compare products and prices. But these businesses are counting on getting sales out of the show. Trust me, I get it; Businesses spend a lot of time and money to participate in the shows, so it makes sense that they expect to gain sales while they’re there. To up their chances, many vendors will offer sale prices during the show. Some vendors really are offering great deals. Some vendors just want you to think you’re getting a good deal, and pressure you into making a quick decision. Going to a Home or Garden Show is a good place to do some research, it just shouldn’t be the only time/place you’re looking. I have a lot of respect for the vendors who’s sales extended to the end of the month, or for another week; it gives people the opportunity to do some research on their own, without the pressure to make a decision that day.

It’s good to see my parents making smart decisions with their money. It also reminds me how we influence others, even when we don’t realize it; Watching them patiently research their purchases reminds me that I could do much better when I’m making large purchases. Much like my Mom, the introvert in me hates talking to people, especially about spending money. But if financial independence is really important to me, then I need to step outside my comfort zone from time to time.

– Cindy W.

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