Nearly a year ago we committed again to an extended family vacation in the Palm Springs area of southern California. The timing was to be late January or early February in 2016. The plan was to rent a house big enough for eight people in the more central Rancho Mirage community. Quick geography lesson: clustered along Highway 111 are Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, and Coachella. The transition is so seamless noticing sign markers is the only way to know when you’ve entered a new community.
When the rental was found, a deposit was required. Final payment was due a few weeks before our arrival. Giving our word and our money meant that despite the downward slide of the dollar we were committed to going. I bought some American money when our dollar was hovering around seventy-five cents and felt like a genius when it dipped below seventy cents. Even nicer was finding an envelope of ?leftover? money in our safety deposit box.
However, I have to say the thrill is gone. US shopping has lost all joy. When a person does the math, most purchases don’t make a bit of sense. Add in the eight percent state tax and it makes even less sense. No retailer we spoke to is offering the poor Canadian dollar discount. They do commiserate, though for what That’s worth. As always, the shrewd shopper will know her prices before venturing into the retail jungle, at home or away.
Who knew those math skills we struggled to learn would have real life value? As much as we moan and complain, there is a truth at play here. And perhaps more than one life lesson, too. The quintessential shopping question should always be: do I absolutely love (and need) this, this thing? Can I live without it? Can I get it cheaper elsewhere? Do I already own something similar?
So far, at the day four mark of this holiday, I’m proud (and frankly surprised) at my ability to just say no. So far we spent only a couple of hours one evening at the Cabazon outlet malls but I came away with nada. The crowds were small and very few had shopping bags. It’s as though I’ve been vaccinated against clearance sale signs, coupon shopping, and combining offers. It’s as though I already have more purses (or watches or books) than one woman could ever need.
I do have to say my resolve almost crumbled at the Barnes & Noble in Westfield Mall. I saw titles in the Writing Reference section I didn’t know existed. Then the calculations began and I walked out empty-handed. I’ve also learned the hard way that shopping without my book list can be dangerous. I’ve bought duplicates of the same title more than once, tick me off.
However, the holiday is still young and I am the Queen of Rationalization, so going home with an empty suitcase is not a sure thing. Exchange rates be damned, from where I sit.