By: Revanche

How much is your time worth?

August 26, 2009

Emotionally, when is it worth it to you to spend money to save time (sanity)?

Shopping for shoes on a tight budget is no joke, and flying wingwoman on a bargain hunt is usually my thing …. BUT …. after a particularly draining and unproductive 6 hour shopping trip through 4 enormous big-box discount shoe stores 17 months ago for a friend, I swore off in-store shoe shopping for the next three lifetimes. Very dramatic, yes. But Lordy!

We walked miles through soulless outlet malls, made all the more torturous by the hordes of screaming children and No Good Shoes. If we’d walked out of there with a halfway decent bargain, I would have been over the moon. As it was, we only found a single decent pair of shoes to even try and they were way out of her budget.

Recently, my only chance to spend some time with another girlfriend was to join her shoe shopping expedition. Teeth gritted, I agreed, lacing up my comfy new running shoes and lightening my pockets of anything that might weigh down my aching bones. “Haven’t seen her in over a year,” I grumped, “probably won’t get another chance before June next year.”

She picked a rather obscure (to me) shop, a wee little bit of a specialty shop, and didn’t name any other destinations when we set the itinerary. Another shrug from me, and off we went.

To my surprise, she spotted over a dozen pairs of possibilities in our first pass. That’s more than I see in full search of any run-of-the-mill DSW or Nordstrom Rack! (Then again, if I were the buyer, they would all have been eliminated on price alone. The cheapest regularly priced pair was $68!) My only job was to evaluate the look of the shoe, sitting on a comfortable couch, as the sales assistants brought wave after wave of shoeboxes. All told, she must have gone through 30 pairs, and they were unfailingly courteous and reasonably attentive.

After nearly three hours of sitting and chatting, lacing new pairs, and restuffing the unwanted shoes, she picked her favorite pair and paid $75 for them. As we sat and caught up over coffee and lemonade, I had a rather discomfiting sense that as a bargain shopper, I may have reached my emotional limit on the subject of shoes.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, I prided myself on finding a good deal on anything I bought, ever. Now, I might just hate fruitless shoe hunting enough to be willing to pony up full price on a comfortable, high-quality pair of shoes.

Honestly, that’s sort of disappointing. It’s not so much an unwillingness to sacrifice on quality by paying lower prices for a cheaper good. I just can’t stand the process! Seems like a wuss of a cop-out.

7 Responses to “How much is your time worth?”

  1. L.A. Daze says:

    That is why I now mostly buy my shoes online. It sucks when I have to guess the sizing (I just end up buying two sizes and return the one that doesn’t fit). For designer shoes, I still try to go to the department stores/boutiques, but if I find a great sale online, i’m not going through the hassle of going to the store to find out if they have my size or not.

  2. Sense says:

    I am so, so picky about clothes and shoes–I would never, ever subject my friends to shopping with me (my sister? another story…she’s bound BY BLOOD). Your friends should know better!

    I suspect that The Guilt after you do a few ‘quick’ shoe-shopping trips will force you back into your old habits.

    Til then, JUST SAY NO.

  3. I like to do shoes online too. Everything is so much more organized.

    I mostly hate shopping. I wonder if it would change if I went to a botique.

  4. eemusings says:

    I too hate shopping and can totally understand just wanting to pay full price for something good! TBH I’ve never been into shopping with friends (sometimes I question whether I can actually call myself a girl at all…); I find it tedious especially if the person I’m with has totally different tastes. Plus I don’t always shop to actually BUY, which isn’t much fun for others.

  5. Revanche says:

    L.A. Daze: You do? My success rate with online shopping has been very low. But so has my irritation level.

    Sense: Well I have a terrible sense of fashion and a tight budget, so I only invite friends who are willing to trek and be highly critical to shop with me. Shopping with them is usually a different matter.

    Thus far, I’ve returned every pair of shoes I’ve bought: quick or online only. I’m starting to suspect that my needs are unfulfillable in the shoe department.

    stackingpennies: It’s just got to be the right boutique, though. The personality of the people, and the stock, just has to be right for you. This one was perfect for my friend, not so much for me.

    eemusings: In some ways, you’re like my bestie. For some reason, she had a very low buy rate when we used to shop together which drove me nuts because she’d then complain she had nothing to wear. I’m ok with observing different tastes in action – it’s like a sociological study. And good for if I have to do Xmas/bday gifts.

  6. This is very wise! Spend your time to save money–if you have a reasonable chance of success and if you enjoy it. So, for husband, we just get shoes at retail nowadays–esp since he likes the $29.00 model at LL Bean.

  7. Revanche says:

    Frugal Scholar: It wasn’t so long ago that this debate literally wasn’t an option. It’s great that your husband likes the more affordable shoe option!

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