Have you ever looked around your house and wondered why you spent good money on certain gadgets and small appliances? I have concluded that many purchases of the “greatest-gadgets-of-all-time” ilk are nothing more than a waste of hard-earned money.
Who loves homemade bread, but doesn’t want to spend all day baking? Apparently, a significant number of people, including ME. A Japanese company, Matsushita Electric Industrial Company, which is now Panasonic, created the first bread maker that could make one loaf of bread. We bought one in the early nineties with our Christmas money from Mom & Dad. The aroma of white bread, cheese bread and raisin bread wafted through every room. We pigged out on bread until it was coming out of our ears. For some reason, homemade bread was no longer the treat it used to before the purchase of the bread maker. The previously heavenly scent now made us nauseous. Beautiful loaves of bread grew moldy before they got eaten. The bread machine was banished to the top shelf of the pantry and there it remained collecting dust for years. We sold our $200 bread maker for less than $20 at a yard sale when moving from Peterborough to Marmora.
That did not prevent us from making another frivolous purchase. We heard friends talking about sandwich makers for only $29.99. We loved eating grilled cheese sandwiches, especially after church on Sunday. The sandwich maker turned out perfectly browned sandwiches with the melted cheese sealed inside. Covered in Teflon, it could be wiped clean with a bit of paper towel.
Regularly, I asked, “Who wants a grilled cheese sandwich?”
“I do. I do,” came the reply.
As time went on, I made fewer and fewer sandwiches. It wasn’t long until I could not bribe someone to eat a grilled cheese sandwich. We had eaten far too many in a short period of time.
I had a tendency to smugly refer to popular small appliances as counter junk. Even the toaster had to be put away. And then along came the single serve coffee machines. Why brew a pot of coffee for a few cents only to dump most of it down the drain? Now we could make one fresh cup of coffee at a time for nearly a buck a cup. It made no financial sense, but we got caught up in all the hoopla. I made coffee and Glenn fell in love lattes made with super strong espresso. For years, I took my coffee black, but I could never get the strength just right and had to add cream which increased the cost of each cup. But one day, the scales fell from my eyes, and I had to ask myself why I was spending so much money for coffee that never tasted just right and created gobs of waste. The single serve coffee machine now sits in an obscure corner at the back of the cupboard, behind the potatoes and onions with the long roots. I quit making coffee at home and Glenn switched to using a stove top pot, espresso and canned milk.
So much for gadgets. Let’s move on to the hair salon. I have extra fine hair that appears flat and limp. I have asked friends what hair products they use and discovered they were loyal to a brand or a price. I spent time perusing the hair care aisle in search of shampoo that claimed to add volume. If it is on the drug store shelf, I have probably tried it — with disappointing results. Shampoo and conditioner range from $2.99 to $10.99. The moral of the story seems to be: buy the cheapest on the shelf.
And then I went to a salon for a discount haircut. I am unsure if the stylist was instructed to cut hair or hawk products. She took one look at my hair and declared for everyone to hear that I must be using a drug store brand shampoo containing alcohol which was causing breakage. Her pitch was so persuasive, I feared my hair would become straw and fall out. I sat down for a $20 haircut and left with $60 worth of shampoo, conditioner and leave-in conditioner.
In one short moment, I fell victim to a marketing ploy. In the stylist’s defense, salon products are more concentrated, meaning a quarter-sized amount is all that is needed. One salon bottle may be the equivalent of four bottles of a drug store brand. Nevertheless, I lost out financially and I am not convinced of a single change in the condition of my hair. By the way, my hair is neither dry nor prone to breakage.
Have I overcome my predilection to buy things that do not live up to my expectations? The jury is still deliberating. I’ll let you know next week because I’m spending a couple of days in Halifax. Perhaps I should leave my debit and credit cards and all cash at home.
Oh, well, it could always be worse. I could be addicted to the Shopping Channel.