Leaving IKEA Empty-Handed

I was in IKEA last night to replace a file cabinet. They didn’t have the right one but I picked out a close approximation. While I was waiting in line I thought, what the hell am I doing dropping $160 on a stupid box just to hold my hanging folders? So I got out of line and abandoned my flat-packed box and resolved to see what the nearby STAPLES has to offer tomorrow. Have you found yourself abandoning stuff in the checkout line more often? Or otherwise reevaluating and cutting back on certain kinds of purchases lately that in the past you might have made without thinking?

(Photo: Ben Popken)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Watcher95 says:

    Breaking news!

    Man chooses filing cabinet!!(?)

    • macinjosh says:

      @watcher95: This is not a news site.

      • eelmonger says:

        @macinjosh: Right, according to Ben it’s a consumer advocacy site. So what are we advocating here? Abandoning purchases mid-line to annoy your fellow consumers and force store employees to do additional work, causing the store to hire more employees, raising prices and lowering morale? No, no, nothing about this post adds up at all!

        • macinjosh says:

          @eelmonger: Nice Family Guy reference (I think). :)

          I was only responding to the implication that everything on here should be “breaking news”.

          I’m not so sure Ben is advocating the abandonment of items at the register (save that for badconsumerist.com), but just the broader idea of putting the brakes on your buying habits before you pull the trigger.

  2. Kaisum says:

    I found it so cumbersome to find products that didn’t have HFCS while shopping on my one hour break that I ran out of time and left a full cart of groceries in Walmart.

  3. Toof_75_75 says:


  4. samim.garza says:

    I have always purchased things like this. Unless its something I use everyday – or will be visible by other people (like an end-table in my house), I’ll try to spend as little as possible on it.

  5. Indecent says:

    Hell yeah, but mine is mostly in groceries.

    Like list night. I could buy slightly less than 2 lbs of “fresh” (read: water injected) chicken breasts for 7.99, or I could buy a 4lb bag of frozen, very flat looking chicken breasts, for 4.99.

    If I can make an extra meal AND save 3 dollars? I’ll take it.

    And actually, I just had your IKEA problem last week. I was buying the drawers for my bookcase system from them (the drawers, maybe 8 inches by 10 inches, are 20 dollars each), when I canceled the order and decided to buy the little organizational baskets for 4 bucks from Target.

  6. HogwartsAlum says:

    I try to go to flea markets first for things like this. I have found the following:

    -A perfectly good glass saucepan in the exact size I needed, with lid (always check there first for dishes)
    -An aluminum colander, the kind with the patterned holes
    -An oak finish bookshelf that matched my other shelves
    -A solid wood coat tree for $12
    -Assorted gift wrap and Christmas decorations
    -Books out the ying-yang
    -Mission style coffee table with storage
    -Most of the pictures on my walls, including the Victorian ones I collect

    Now all I need is a bigger house! ;)

  7. blackmage439 says:

    Well, quite frankly, he’s right. File cabinets are entirely pointless, unless you have the papers to fill them up with. Buy the cheap, $5 file boxes at Frys, and stash them in a closest or under a bed.

  8. sir_pantsalot says:

    Yes, cheap booze and cheap women. Now I find myself having to choose just one or the other.

  9. Kaisum says:

    I hit submit too soon. Sorry.

    I walk away from purchases all the time, either because I don’t want to spend the money and want to seek a cheaper alternative or because I can’t stand the line I have to wait in to buy the damn thing.

  10. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    I’ve stopped buying just about everything. Reading all these consumer sites has finally sunk in, causing me to consider every purchase more critically.

    I actually had this exact dilemma (buying something to store my hanging folders) I looked at the pretty wood ones and the hearty metal ones. Finally decided it was way to much to spend for the purpose. Ended up buying a plastic box-style file holder at Target with a hinged lid and handle for $12. Works perfect and can be stowed out-of-sight easily.

  11. chiieddy says:

    I didn’t find a cabinet I liked at IKEA and got one at Target for $20 (1/2 off, on sale). That said, I just re-did my living room with mostly IKEA items for $1500. That includes, boxes for DVD/Video Game storage, wall shelves and brackets, a new loveseat, a chair, a sideboard, a desk, a footrest. IKEA is pretty good bang for your buck if you spend wisely.

    So proud of my new living room, I took a time-lapse video so you can see all the IKEA goodness.

    On the other hand, while their flooring prices are decent, check competitors like Lumber Liquidators and you might find yourself spending less. IKEA can’t be beat for full kitchens though. The fittings are incredibly high quality and the same ones you’ll spend 10x more at other stores.

  12. jpmoney says:

    I was recently shopping for a new office desk and was really disappointed in Ikea’s selection and prices. Our living room set is from there and while its not the greatest thing, it looks nice and should last a while since its one of their nicer lines.

    I was surprised at the prices of their file cabinets. They are indeed ~$160 for something that can be replaced with a comparable piece from Office Depot/Max for half of that.

    I haven’t found myself cutting back on anything though. I inherited a lot of frugality from my parents and my Fiance is much the same. We are finding fewer excuses for going out for the occasional drink during the week. I guess we’re not living the “excessive” life we used to?

    • Meggers says:

      @jpmoney: Good call on the drinks. I went to happy hour with my coworkers last night and realized that I haven’t gone to a happy hour since June. To be honest, I never really missed it. Instead of paying 6 dollars (plus tip) for a miller lite, I can drink good beer for cheap in the comfort of my own home.

  13. jblack says:

    I would say many people are cutting back. Today’s durable good orders was down by a large amount; -4.5%.

    I think there are two reasons for the cutbacks. Firstly, conservative people are saving up in anticipation of hard times. Secondly, people that like to spend with corrosponding debt lines, are finding it hard to keep their addiction to shiny new things fed.

  14. zibby says:

    “Have you found yourself reevaluating and cutting back on certain kinds of purchases lately that in the past you might have made without thinking?”

    Definitely – in fact, I was at Ikea a couple of weeks ago to buy a lamp. Their selection was utter garbage, and they were out of the one halfway decent thing on display. So I said to myself, “Zibster, it’s not a waste of money to pay $100 for a lamp you really want, but it is a waste of money to pay $25 for a lamp you despise.” So I left and went to a real lighting store.

    • quail says:

      @zibby: Agreed. Pay for quality, durability, and classiness and you’ll never be disappointed. I knew a couple who married right out of college. They saved to buy low price antique furniture and bought when they could. Their house is beautiful. And if they ever decided to sell everything off they’d get at least what they paid for it if not more.

  15. Meggers says:

    I have been debating about a new winter coat for weeks now. I have an old coat but its very ugly. I find that lately, I just can’t justify the expense for something new when I already have something old that still works (even if it is ugly).

    • Etoiles says:

      @Meggers: I hear you. I kept thinking about a new winter coat for about three years and deciding I didn’t need to spend $100 that winter.

      Finally, on my last birthday (February 2008) I was visiting my folks, and my mother declared, “you look like a homeless person,” and shoved me into the car and whisked me away to Burlington Coat Factory. She was right, heh (the old one was from November 1999, so it had lived through nearly 9 New England / NY winters).

      Invest in a classy new coat. You’ll feel better and even at $100 if it’s a good coat and you get 6-9 years of service out of it, it was money well spent. ;)

  16. no.no.notorious says:

    actually, lately i’ve been spending more. i’m also making more this year, and find myself wanting to support the better quality items, which happen to be more expensive. I don’t buy pre-packaged foods that often…I do find just shopping for strict inexpedience is cheaper than doing the other (since you get more out of them). Although, things that I don’t skimp on are things like fair trade coffee (NOT things with the “organic” label slapped onto them), fresh deli meats and cheeses, clothing made sweat shop free, non-fast food restaurants…things of that nature.

  17. quail says:

    It’s something I return to frequently when I want to save money or make less of a footprint on the earth. When I think I need something I start looking at what I have, what can I make do double duty. If I don’t find what I need there I move to the thrift/charity shop. From there I look at the paper to find one used. Finally I move into discount retailer territory like Marshalls or T.J. Maxx. And if I still can’t find what works I get into the department stores and full price retailers to see what they have on sale.

    At some point I find something free or cheap and seldom get all the way full price retail.

  18. Salvation Army Salvation Army Salvation Army people!!! Filing cabinets Galore. Usually in pristine shape too. Spray paint em and call em your own.


  19. gqcarrick says:

    I got my little 2 drawer file cabinet at Salvation Army, it was an odd color so I just primed and painted it black and it looks brand new, all for $10.

  20. chris_l says:

    I just canceled an online order for a bunch of books. I’ve got more than enough reading material at home right now that I don’t really need to up my “to do” reading pile from 20 books to 30.

    • @chris_l: I actually didn’t buy a bunch of my TEXTBOOKS this semester because I realized it would be a waste of time and money- especially with my major, I’m getting to think that the textbooks are just a formality. They help in certain, particular situations, but for the most part they sit dusty on a shelf all semester.

    • mushroom104 says:

      @chris_l: When you finish those 20 or 30 books try your local library. I have a terrible reading habit. I use to buy books left and right. Mostly second hand, but still that adds up. I started using the public library a few months ago.

      I have found public libraries to be much more user friendly and convenient than they use to be. They have the catalogue online now, and you can make a list online of the books you want to read. When you are ready for a book request to have it transferred the most convenient branch for you. It only takes a couple of days for the books to transfer. You’re notified the book is ready via email or phone call. Books can be renewed online twice (as long as no one is waiting for it). Books can be returned to any branch, not just the one you picked it up from. At least that’s the way it works here. I’m saving tons of money!

  21. timmus says:

    This is a great idea for an article! I wish it hadn’t been broadened out to all reconsidered purchases, but focused squarely on purchases abandoned at the store. Generally I always drop my stuff when the line is too long. I’ve done it at Home Depot more than once.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @timmus: I do this most of the time when trying to shop online. I spend so much time searching for the right version of X at the right price I end up talking myself out of buying it. I’ll either get buyer’s remorse before I’ve even bought anything or the shipping costs turn out to be too high.

      I almost never get as far as the check out line with something I change my mind about in a brick and mortar. But then again I’m not buying a whole lot outside of groceries.

  22. I got out of debt, and saved a ton of cash by living with the simple principal of only buying what I intended to buy. That means if I go into a store for a dvd player that is on sale and the store doesn’t have it. I don’t get a dvd player. No impulse buying either. Groceries get a shopping list and no extras.

    I’ve been disappointed many MANY times by this, but this and this alone got me to pay off my 5k in credit cards and now I’ve saved about 3k. Been 2 years.

  23. Great article, Ben.

    This is what consumers are doing and this is partially why the economy is in trouble.

  24. timmus says:

    Weird… the comments system has been revamped but my comments STILL do not appear sometimes unless I submit a followup comment.

  25. zigziggityzoo says:

    My monthly budget used to be $1600. Now it’s $1100. Word.

  26. henwy says:

    I really hope that when you decided not to purchase the item you actually returned it to where it had been or at least flagged down an employee and let them know you no longer wanted it. I’ve seen people abandon huge full carts of groceries or other items and it’s just not right. First, it’s usually just common courtesy to return and item if you don’t want it. Second, it’s probably hard for employees to know after the fact that an item near a register has been abandoned. After all, it could be that someone went to go grab some other item from the aisles.

  27. TheGreenMnM says:

    I think there are quite a few people out there right now who are thinking “simple”. Simple is such a great concept and helps the wallet, the mind, and the soul. Ikea is great place to start thinking simple. Instead of a list of items you need make a list of problem areas you may have. For instance, instead of saying “file cabinet”, say “a big pile of papers laying all over my desk, floor, hallway, etc.” Your mind will start looking for other ways to solve the problem and you may find something more fitting than a file cabinet.

    • CountryJustice says:

      @TheGreenMnM: This is awesome advice. Not only does it allow you be creative with your space, you’ll often find that you can eliminate multiple problems with a singular solution. And if there’s any retailer that caters to such a concept, it’s IKEA.

  28. Carl3000 says:

    Who among us is brave enough to stand up to Big Filing Cabinet and their cronies in Washington?

  29. nicemarmot617 says:

    I hate shopping. If I pick out something and the line is too long, I ditch it and leave. Pretty much every time, unless it’s something I absolutely have to have (i.e. medication.)

  30. MaytagRepairman says:

    I was looking for some bedroom furniture on Craig’s list in the Seattle area a few months ago and noticed quite a selection of IKEA furniture.

  31. WildaSneep says:

    Staples has a plastic bin that can hold hanging file folders for about 1/4 the cost of an actual filing cabinet.

  32. sonneillon says:

    I got 3 stackable tubs instead of a filing cabinet. Cost me 15 dollars.

  33. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:
  34. balthisar says:

    Yeah, I’m holding off on the DSLR I’ve been wanting, a navigation system for my truck, and a color laser printer to replace my dried-out inkjet. I’m not talented enough for a DSLR yet; I only use the truck for trucky stuff, and the reason my printer is dried out is because I don’t use it enough.

    • battra92 says:

      @balthisar: I bought a DSLR and returned it two days later. I realized that having to spend hundreds on replacing all my film lenses would equal quite a lot of rolls of film (even Kodachrome) so a DSLR is not worth the price for me.

  35. chiieddy says:

    Actually, I got a pretty ugly, black metal cabinet but “project for the future” will be to build a wooden enclosure to go around it. Will likely cost me less in the long run to make it myself.

  36. Jimbo says:

    I was going to buy a nice filing cabinet when I then looked at Craigslist in the freebies list and there was a local mortgage company shutting down and giving away fancy filing cabinets for free. I was over there in ten min and got two lateral cabinets that were worth over $500 each.

  37. Jimbo says:

    Alwyas look on Craigslist for barely used IKEA stuuf of 20 cents on the dollar

  38. Jimbo says:

    You can get barely used IKEA on Craigs for 20 cents on the dollar.

  39. Eilonwynn says:

    Question: If they didn’t have the exact one you wanted, why were you getting something that you didn’t like?… This kind of thing boggles my mind – I only substitute purchases if I find something I like *better* – if not, I’ll come back later.

    • Ben Popken says:

      @Eilonwynn: It looked like they weren’t carrying the one I had anymore.

      • Eilonwynn says:

        @Ben Popken: For that, check As-Is and ring the buzzer at the back – they usually have a fairly large stock of recently discontinued things back there that they’ll give you at a good discount, you just have to ask if they’ve got it there. (I’ve practically furnished my whole apartment this way, beyond inheritances)

  40. Jimbo says:

    You can get barely used IKEA on Craigs for 20 cents on the dollar.

  41. AarG says:

    Ben (and you soon-to-be home-officing freelancers out there), check around for a used office furniture store in your area. Salvation Army has some good deals, but if you want to go just a bit upmarket from them, you can usually find brand-name (Hon, Steelcase, Plunkett) furniture and equipment at such a place, and it’s usually almost new. These places are especially gold mines if you have a special ergonomic need, like a lumbar supporting chair or an anti-carpal-tunnel desk.

  42. 4ster says:

    I recently needed a file cabinet, because years ago a learned the hard way that a cheap file cabinet is much worse than no file cabinet. I couldn’t even get the drawers open.

    Instead of going to a store, I just hit Craigslist and found a cool, old-school-looking cabinet that looks like it could survive a bomb blast. It has a textured feel, and since it’s black (o yeah), I could touch-up the scuffs with a Sharpie.

    I try to always avoid retail if I can. My suits come from eBay for around $65, and I wear them until they fall apart. I’ve never gotten a bad one this way. Even my cell phone came from eBay, and I’ve had no problems there either. My Macbook and iPod come from the refurb store.

    I just have to be careful that I don’t find myself thinking “because I buy cheap, I can buy more,” as that defeats the purpose.

  43. OmniZero says:

    I’ve wanted to buy some video games for a long time but haven’t yet. I feel guilty spending money right now because I think I’m going to need as much as possible later if the economy gets worse.

  44. LabanDenter says:

    I’m currently debating: new car, or not. very close to saying yes, there are some great deals on cars out there, and mine is reaching the point right before things start braking on it. still have student loans though. grrr, I should have started saving for the car ealier. I’m kind of sad about it, since I’ve been wanting a new car for a long time now, but with I’ll be honest, and say this whole mess with the economy has me worried more now.

  45. caveatrob says:

    Bah- invest $300 in a ScanSnap and scan almost everything. Keep what you need in a $20 plastic file box with a handle. This not only encourages you to have searchable files, but also reduces the space you need to store papers.

    I have two file boxes:
    1) Items that require original copies, like signed tax returns, birth certificates, and passports.
    2) Items with papers that I still use regularly; I can keep this pretty low until I’m finished using them.

    I’ve taken to photographing and/or scanning keepsakes instead of keeping them.

    • TheGreenMnM says:

      @caveatrob: This is such an amazingly clever yet simple method! Why didn’t I think of this!!! I guess my want/need to keep everything is bred in me by my packrat mother. Pictures of keepsakes… if only I could somehow justify to myself that I don’t need the actual “thing”, just the image of the “thing”. Any suggestions on how to embed that in the brain?

  46. ret3 says:

    My wife tells me I’m the king of reconsidering purchases. I’ll pick up an item, walk around the store with it while she shops, and then on the way to the checkout, decide that I don’t want/need it after all. Of course, I’ve been doing that all my life, so it’s not a recent financial issue.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @ret3: I’ve been doing that my entire life as well…it’s not so much that I can’t pay for it, but the extra burden of having more and more items in my home, collecting dust. I evaluate as well as I can, and sometimes I’m an impulse shopper. Not often though.

  47. csdiego says:

    Yeah. The good news is that I left a couple of packages of candy in the checkout line last night. The bad news is, I had gone to that store to buy Powerball tickets and happened to pick up the candy while I was there. The guy on the Powerball machine couldn’t check me out at that register, so I just took the Powerball tickets and left the candy. Hey, when the jackpot is as high as it is right now, the lottery is actually a sensible investment (the expected value of your $1 investment is actually > $1).

  48. hankrearden says:

    I can’t remember the last time I left IKEA without buying SOMETHING.

  49. bbagdan says:

    I agree. It is almost impossible to walk into Ikea and buy only what you came for. However, I did manage to just go there for lunch last week without buying anything else. But I perused the grocery store and it gave me some ideas. dang!

  50. lowcajones says:

    they make plastic milk crates in a variety of colors for about $6. those do the hanging file folders very successfully, and are in fact designed to do so.

    but yeah. you look at this stuff, and the cost is astronomical for a simple function. between getting stuff from the library, renting and not buying movies, craiglist, and then just good old creativity, half of the stuff we look at buying is just more stuff in your house; i dont particularly like things that have limited function at high cost. im sure that’s a common sentiment these days.

  51. 3drage says:

    I find myself reevaluating going to the store in the first place. It wastes gas and I never come out ahead.

  52. vastrightwing says:

    Cutting back? How about stopping all consumer spending on anything other than necessities? My house is full of junk, so I’ve been selling stuff on Craigslist. I cut my $80/mo. satellite bill to $45/mo. I’m taking steps to cut it completely out by using an old fashioned antenna. I have no home phone. I change internet providers often to get the new customer deals (I have FIOS, RCN, Comcast & some other providers to choose from). We don’t eat out often and even (gasp!) split a meal since they give such large portions at restaurants. I watch my bills like a hawk since almost every month I get charges on my credit cards I have to call about. Before I buy anything, I ask myself “do I really need this?” if the answer is yes, I only buy the model I need: no more high end junk. It’s not worth it. I bought an expensive dishwasher with all the buttons. Guess what? I only use 1 button! Next dishwasher will be the most basic one offered. No more hi-tech flashey model with buttons I will never use.

  53. Ein2015 says:

    Find a filing cabinet for a LOT less money! [www.amazon.com]

  54. I abandon online shopping carts a lot… usually after the shipping price is shown. I hate trying to order a spool of fancy thread and getting charged 7$ in shipping. It’s just not going to happen.

    I do it in the market too, but mostly with “impulse” purchases. I walk around the store with them until they no longer amuse me, then I put them back.

  55. Outrun1986 says:

    I don’t have an Ikea where I live. I find myself only coming out of the store with essentials such as toiletries, food and other consumables which will be used. I am sure much of the population is thinking the same.

    I don’t like buying the cheap stuff at walmart and target that everyone seems to load their cart down with. Seriously you can find a huge selection of knick knacks at the thrift for a fraction of the price (if you really must have them), yet people are spending 9.99-19.99 each on simple knick knacks at walmart and target that they don’t really need. Yard sales are filled with this type of stuff and most people will give it to you for 25 cents or less an item or give it to you for free. This quickly adds up to hundreds before you even realize it when you are paying full price for house decor. Not to mention you probably don’t even need another statue or figure in your house.

    I do buy video games but I have now made a resolution not to buy any game until it hits 19.99 or less. Its simply pointless to buy them when they are released because prices are dropping so fast. At least I am saving money by waiting for the depreciation to set in before I buy. If it doesn’t drop in price then I can look for a cheaper used copy. Since I buy mostly Nintendo DS games that are cartridge based most used copies are in like new condition with basically the only difference being that they are missing the shrinkwrap. Even with disc based games most used games play the same as they would if you would have bought them new. The only reason to buy a game at release now is if your buying an entirely online based game and frankly I stay away from those.

    If I buy anything outside of essentials these days it comes from the clearance rack and even those purchases are few and far between. I do tend to buy clothing on impulse but even those items have to be cheap and preferably on the clearance rack before I buy them as in the $5-10 range and it has to be something that I will actually wear and use. It helps that I live in a super poor area where if you have clean clothes you look good.

  56. Typically with decent sized purchases, I:
    – pick something out as soon as I get to the store
    – wander around the rest of the store and do my casual shopping
    – think a little harder about whether I need the thing I came for on my way to the checkout.

    Sometimes I buy the thing, sometimes I realize that I can wait and buy it online or used, sometimes I realize I’m an idiot for wanting this right now and put it back and out of my head.

    Sometimes (like Timmus above) I also put stuff back when the act of purchasing it pisses me off too much. This is a big factor when buying stuff online, as 9 times out of 10 I’ll pay an extra 5 to 10% for the convenience factor of taking it home (granted, that 5 to 10% would usually be swallowed up by shipping, but not always)

  57. BustedWheel says:

    Craigslist. I am not in the market for one, but I can’t even look at Craigslist without seeing 10 of them for free. I will never pay money for a filing cabinet again, wait, i never have before.

  58. econobiker says:

    Need file cabinet = Craigslist.

    Absolutely cutting down on purchases- mostly due to the economy. I have been buying marked down toys for my two sons Christmas though. August through Sept/Oct is the best time since the stores are trying to clear out for the Christmas toys which arrive in November. I recently got an older Hot Wheels set -originally $17 marked down to $5.

  59. BeeBoo says:

    I have pretty much stopped buying “things” but the focus has been on reducing the amount of stuff I have rather than not spending money. Over the last few years I have found that the less stuff I have, the happier I am, which is exactly the opposite of what most people believe. Discovering this has been a great source of mental freedom for me.

    For example, when I needed shorts this past summer because none of my old ones were wearable, I bought one pair. If they got dirty before wash time, they got washed in the sink and hung up in the bathroom to dry. Five years ago this never would have occured to me.

    The books “Hungry Planet: What the World Eats” and “Material World: A Global Family Portarait” made a huge difference in my life.” Check them out from your library or if your library does not have them, buy copies and donate them to your library.


  60. dunkinbean says:

    I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve left the line after picking out something and then left the store empty-handed altogether. Do the same thing online, too. My brain likes to enter this very deep and serious thought mode when it gets close to having to say goodbye to my money.

  61. JillianPiso says:

    I may be in the vast minority but I actually prefer long lines when I’m ambivalent towards a purchase. I usually dart in and out of a store because I know what I want, but on those occasions when I pick something up that’s not on the list, I prefer to stand in a long line because there’s a physical point by which I need to make the decision. I’ve stood for hours at times near a product debating with myself. Most of the time, I find that I really don’t need it and put it back.

  62. JulesNoctambule says:

    I’ve been cheap for ages, personally. Aside from a few exceptions (including but not limited to food and underwear), if I can’t find it second-hand I don’t buy it.

    Furniture, dishes (where else can I find my vintage Syracuse?), books, craft supplies — you name it, I can probably find it used, in good condition, for next to nothing. Just last week, I found a full-size enamelling kiln on Craigslist for less than the cost of a brand-new portable mini-kiln. I’ve been wanting one for ages but have been holding back on getting one off the shelf in the hope that I could find one that needed a new home.

    We can easily afford to buy things new, but between my love for vintage things, a desire to recycle what already exists instead of using resources to make new things and the thrill I get when I save money, it’s the thrift, the flea market and yard sales all the way.

  63. PrimrosePandion II says:

    My friends and I call this “unshopping”. We’ll frequently shop at Target or Costco and grab things, fully intending to “unshop” them later…editing the cart before we get to the checkstand…

  64. ElizabethD says:

    Been doing that a LOT online. I get promotions from online merchants and often will bite. Almost bought something at Eddie Bauer with a free shipping code this week, but when I went to check out there was a $3.00 handling fee (the item was only $14.99 on sale). I hate those handling fees! So I abandoned the shopping cart. I’ve done that at other sites, too, recently. It’s actually good to put stuff in a virtual cart and then give yourself some time to think it over. You don’t feel quite as under-the-gun as you might at a real store.

  65. SudhamayiKabong says:

    I find myself doing this all the time.

    I was going to buy a DVD box-set the other day at Best Buy because it was heavily discounted. I decided at the last moment that I didn’t really need it. Oh, I wanted it, but it wasn’t an expenditure that I could justify otherwise, so I just handed it to the cashier and told her that I’d changed my mind.

  66. Ron Draper says:

    I was laden with items at Filene’s Basement yesterday and the utter lack of attentiveness or care of the staff working there while I was fretting over finding black slacks pissed me off so bad that I left everything except for two pair of shoes and decided I could do better at H&M.

  67. adamkantor says:

    I used to abandon purchases at Walmart all the time because there were only 3 lines open out of 20 possible registers. But I never just left the store, I’d ask to talk to a manager and when they arrived I would tell them that I was going to buy stuff but I changed my mind because I wasn’t going to wait for 15 minutes in line.

    Surprisingly, about 6 months after that the store opened an express checkout line!

  68. johnnya2 says:

    So basically it seems you don’t value your time. If you spent that much time, and all you save is a very small amount of money then you are saying you don’t value time. I could run around to every store in the world to find the best price on food, clothing, gas etc, but I value my time and include that in any “savings” I might see. I can see if it is a larger purchase where 100’s of dollars are at stake, but if you saved $10 and you ned up having to spend an hour to go get something else are you really only worth $10 per hour. That is your call to make, but my time is worth more than that.

    • benko29 says:

      @johnnya2: ever heard of “free time?” this is where you have an excess of time and are happy to part with it for whatever reason, sometimes for no other reason than because it is “free.” many people enjoy what is known as “free time,” when all of a sudden their time is not worth anything. some people enjoy spending this time hunting bargains on things they would otherwise spend more money on. sometimes your free time pays you.

  69. DeafChick says:

    Yes, I do this all the time with groceries but I always splurge on books and magazines.

  70. DJFelix says:

    It has happened to my wife and I on several occasions.

    An interesting permutation of that was this weekend. We went looking for a part for our refrigerator and never found it. I went home, tinkered with the fridge some more, and eventually figured out I didn’t need the part. Similar, but not quite the same.

  71. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Yes… I too have abandoned carts full of crap I thought I needed, but while waiting for some snotty nosed store staffer to get off their F’n phone or end their social break in order to deal with me the customer, I realize I don’t need the crap at the cost of my time and dignity.

    Auto parts stores are great for this one… you show up, wait your turn at the counter, get half way into your request and the store phone rings… The staffer deals with the phone not you… You made the effort to show up with your money to actually make the purchase, but as far as the store is concerned you are already a sale, no more real effort required. BUT, the bugger on the phone, who has made no effort beyond dialing the number is the potential customer and they get the service… This is where quick thinking and talking can get some response … “Deal with me, pick up the phone and my money is out of here!” Then follow through and leave all the stuff behind, start walking and if you see the manager on the way… give him a piece of your mind, it will be more mind than he has been exposed too in years.

    Yes, I did recently have a poor retail experience… I will get over it.

  72. I don’t abandon stuff at the counter… don’t make it that far. I might pick up an item (mostly clothes) walk around with it while browsing in the same department, then put it back if I don’t want it, because I don’t wanna lug around a whole cart of “maybe” items, and likely don’t need it.

    I think the problem with Ikea and big box “destination” stores (as opposed to a Walgreens or Target) is that I go there so rarely, do so much window shopping on all over that huge store, that I almost feel like I need to buy something to justify the effort. If I’m good it’s a kid’s plate of swedish meatballs, if I’m not it’s another damn decorative knick-knack to clutter my life.

  73. @ElizabethD: Yes, the virtual cart is a awesome, because it gives you that “mulling” time, and additionally wish lists/save for later option helps me mull over my “window shopping” patterns. Because there’s dates attached to the items, it’s almost like dieters with food journals. You can figure out why you started looking at the unnecessary items and avoid doing it in the future. Was I lured by discounts? Was it the holidays? Was I feeling down and trying to buy something to cheer me up?

  74. madanthony says:

    I don’t generally abandon stuff in line, because I usually do my research and make my decision before I put it in my cart.

    As far as file cabinets, if you don’t care what they look like, look in the back of your paper or on auctionzip.com for bankruptcy/ business closing auctions. They usually will have some, and they will usually go cheap, usually a couple dollars.

  75. DreamingInGreen says:

    Lists Lists Lists. I’ve started using lists for non-grocery store purchases and it’s working wonders. I’ve got a list of high-quality professional clothes I want to buy, kitchen supplies I want to buy and other “if I have the fun money saved” that I might consider buying. When I enter stores (or the amazon marketplace) it keeps me focused.

  76. VigilanteKitteh says:

    I actually do this quite a bit, but it’s usually due to my indecisiveness. I’ll be in the line, or even meandering around the store, when I’ll think “I don’t really need this” or ” I have no space”, and I’ll just abandon it.

  77. I’ve made it a rule that if I go into a store to buy a particular item & they don’t have THE one I want (or they have it but not at a price I’m willing to pay) I will just leave. It usually means putting back a few impulse items I had picked up on my way to find the original item & I think I’ve saved myself from a lot of mindless impulse shopping by doing it this way.

    When I’m out on a big shopping trip (groceries, household supplies, etc) I park the cart right before the checkout lines & try to take at least a couple things out of the cart that I didn’t really set out to buy or that can wait for the next time it goes on sale.

  78. krom says:

    At least have the responsibility to put the thing back where you got it, instead of just dropping it in some random place at the store, leaving it to some poor staffer to make up for your lack of financial restraint and inability to pick up after yourself.

  79. chilled says:

    I don’t have any problem leaving stuff at checkout…especially at Walmart when they have three lines out of forty open and I’m in a hurry..really pisses me off.

    you would think the most important function of a store would be to take people’s money!!

  80. PlayerX says:

    The thing about IKEA is is that they always stick the store in the middle of bloody no-where, so when you’re in there, you kinda feel a duty to come back with something lest you go back there another day. Blugh.

    • Eilonwynn says:

      @PlayerX: I think it depends on the area – Mine is less than 3 minutes from where I work, so I go in there all the time just to check and see what’s in as is (I keep a running list of things I need, but don’t want to pay full price for), and/or score a 99c breakfast.

  81. SatyarupaDawes says:

    What the thing with hanging file folders? Ikea, Staples, OfficeMax, Office Depot, they all only have file cabinets that are setup for hanging folders, usually with a backstop that is a piece of wire you fit in a hole.

    None of these big box stores carry any nice Steelcase or Hon cabinets like the ones at my work that have the sliding divider that hold regular folders up.

  82. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    The only reason I’ve ever abandoned anything at IKEA there was because of the 4-mile walk back to the registers and the sea of humanity waiting to check out looked like a gypsy caravan.

    If it’s something frivolous, I’m too cheap to consider picking it up in the first place.

  83. nerdychaz says:

    Recent Items I have walked away from:

    Beef: so #@%&!! expensive now, chicken and pig are cheaper

    CD’s: Piracy is cheaper

    Cigarettes: Making your own via a top machine = $35 a month Vs. $100 a month.

    Internet: I connect to someone else’s Linksys network!

    Gas: Why drive when I could bike

    Many more

  84. super125 says:

    I don’t see what is so interesting or ground-breaking about not buying a product because you believe it is too expensive, or because you don’t like it. That is just practical.

    My problems with Ikea are that (in my experience) the computer that tells you what is in stock is only updated at opening (so when it says 84 of an item are “in stock and available” it might really mean “sold out”); and that (according to some employees there I spoke to) they don’t have a way to re-stock items without shutting down the entire floor.

  85. gruffydd says:

    I am definitely doing a final “go through” before I get to the register.

    Yesterday I had ordered some stupidly expensive custom-blended makeup from the Prescriptives counter at Macy’s
    ($69 including tax, but I figure it lasts for about 6 months and at .39 cents a day, I’m worth it – I also made sure to get extra samples and the gift with purchase)

    While walking to the counter, I noticed 50% off sales throughout the store with an additional 15% when using your Macy’s card. I found and tried on some blouses and picked three that were okay.

    In the past I would have bought them without hesitation. But, when I went to the register, I realized that I didn’t LOVE them, so why was I going to shell out $75 for tops that were just “okay”?

    Also, I used to go to Target at least once a week, but now I am down to once a month. My husband calls Target, “The Shit You Don’t Need” Store.

    So yeah, I am trying to curtail my free-wheeling spending habits.

  86. Meathamper says:

    Nice photo, bad story.

  87. sarahq says:

    My girlfriend and I, both avid readers, have stopped our rampant book-buying in favor of our local library.

    While we might buy a paperback here or there, we no longer drop $100-$200 a month on non-fiction. With the opportunity to request as many free holds for pickup at the closest branch as we want, we’ve been borrowing more books than we used to buy.

    And I’ve been keeping myself out of the malls and away from the shoe stores. Damned sales. :P

  88. nuket says:

    I checkout dealnews.com regularly for good deals. Just before Labor Day, I saw that Circuit City had a 50+” plasma TV for $1699 and my partner and I had a 10% off new home owner coupon. So, we went down and bought the TV. We figured we’d be able to fit the TV in his car. Oops. It was late, so the salesman offered to hold the TV overnight while we arranged to borrow a friends truck for the transport. We went home and slept on the idea of dropping 1450 on a TV when we had other stuff to do.
    So, he went back the next day and cancelled the purchase. No TV for us.

  89. XeniaGaze says:

    Whenever I’m buying multiple items from a big box store, my final purchase depends on how long I wait on line. While I wait I pull things from my basket, one by one, in the reverse order of priority. When I lose patience completely I leave the cart and go. Rarely am I buying something in any store that I can’t get in one of my other stops. I live in NJ, home of the country’s worst customer service so I rarely get to the front of the line with an impulse purchase.

  90. battra92 says:

    I have a cherry wood one that matches my desk from Staples. It was more to keep my papers in as well as to store my pens and be a stand for my scanner.

    I don’t regret the purchase because it will be with me for a long time.

    In an answer to the question, yes there are times I just go and put things back because I won’t spend the money. One isn’t obligated to buy anything but don’t be a jerk and leave it in the middle of the checkout line.

  91. NoelleCabaiste says:

    I’d love to do that but with about 50 board feet of files plastic file boxes are not an option. Arggghhhhh. Why did I become a licensed professional. I should have listened to mom and drove a truck. “There’ll be less paperwork,” she said.

    So yes, I have a few of the ikea file cabinets with the file drawers/regular drawer combinations and some big asses industrial steel ones.

    However I might suggest looking for a used office furniture place and checking out auctions for that stuff. Tons of people start businesses that fail within the first year and usually it is because they undercapitalized and outfitted their office with the ‘best’ of everything. And I buy it at less that 50% of retail.

  92. Prophaniti says:

    I’ve always felt guilty abandoning items. If I decide I don’t need something, I retrace my steps to put it back where it came from.

    This can be advantageous when, passing racks of items along the way, you glance at the price sticker of another item that’s in your cart and decide that you really don’t need that either.

    Happens to me all the time in WalMart and Kroger.

    Ways I’m conserving/cutting back…

    Grocery shopping once a month…with a list.
    Sure, the bill is huge since I’m stocking up for an entire month’s worth of food but I’ve found that if I shop every two weeks, I end up spending more money on snack food instead of eating what’s already in my pantry.

    Car insurance- My insurance carrier offers an extra bit of savings for paying my bill in full. Up til recently, I paid month-to-month. In theory, I can treat myself and my gal to a nice dinner once a year with the money I’m saving.

    Cellphone- I’ve been lazy. My phone usage has plummeted in recent months due to a change in jobs but I never bothered to lower my monthly minutes to reflect my decreased usage. Fixed that yesterday and am saving 20 bucks a month.

    Cable/Internet- Next on my to-do list. Comcast will be receiving a call from me shortly. The Military Channel is cool, but not “shock and awe your wallet” cool. My promotional period ended too. As much as Comcast is the devil, they’ve been tolerable, so I’m going to try peaceful negotiation before resorting to the threaten-to-cancel tactic.

    Weekly Drycleaning- 30 bucks for 7 shirts and 7 pants. One new DVD to watch while ironing in the living room…10 bucks. Just made the switch last week. Not a bad way to spend an evening.
    I plan to use the other 20 bucks I’m saving as a justifiable reward to put towards other current (but unnecessary to life) expenses such as my MMO game subscription and my Paintball hobby.

    Credit Card- My current APR sucks on the ONLY credit card I use. My credit score doesn’t. Time to do something about this. A new card and a balance transfer are in my future.

    Morning Coffee- Starbucks was kicked to the curb a few months back. My coffee maker is happy I’m using it again, and the switch saves me enough cash to afford the escalating price of gasoline. Besides, I’m groggy enough in the morning that the difference in taste is negligible.

    My weakness- Brand loyalty.
    I occasionally get a nervous tic when my gal throws a generic item in the grocery cart because it’s less money. I have tried this sacrifice in the past with disastrous results. I call it “eating prison food” because the difference in taste or quality can be so noticeable at times.
    I’m picky enough about what I will and will not eat as it is. While this additional pickyness in what BRANDS I find acceptable annoys my gal to no end, there are some areas where sacrifice just isn’t possible.

  93. You-Me-Us says:

    If I’m in the supermarket and wheel my cart full of groceries up to the front only to find that they have two or three (out of 10 or 15) registers open and each register has four or more people in line, I will by-god abandon that cart at the front of the store and walk out. Not only do they lose the sale, but they most likely have to toss any frozen or refrigerated items I wanted to buy. When the lines get that long, somebody (I dunno, maybe a “manager” or some such) should be calling employees from other parts of the store to come open registers. If they don’t have enough cashiers there, that’s bad management. And if they do have enough but they aren’t checking out customers, it’s just inexcusably poor customer service. Either way, I do not reward them with my business, even if it costs me the time I had spent filling up that cart. I can buy food elsewhere.

    • evixir says:

      @You-Me-Us: How extraordinarily wasteful a practice, and it sounds like one that you almost take up gleefully and with pleasure, hell-bent on “teaching that grocery store management a lesson in customer service.”

      I seriously doubt that they had 10-15 registers open when you walked INTO the store and by the time you reached the registers with your goods, they then whittled that down to 2-3. Abandoning a cartful of perishable goods does absolutely no good to anybody at all. You may be making a point to the management of the store — but the point you’re making is likely more that you are a Problem Customer. Why not just toss all the food on the floor before you storm out the door while you’re at it?

  94. cozynite says:

    When I go shopping for clothes or to Target and I want something that I don’t need, I try to make a note of it in my head. If I remember it again at any point while I am still in the store, I’ll pick it up. More often than not, I won’t remember it until I’m at home or even the next day. Obviously it wasn’t that important of an item if I forgot about it, right?

  95. kaylabear says:

    I saw this tote bag featured in the latest issue of Vogue the other day and decided I wanted to buy it. But once I clicked to check out, I just thought about how I need to really look after what money I do have these days and just closed the window. Not even Barack Obama could get me to drop my money on a tote bag, but I think my vote for him is more important anyway.