You may think you’re frugal, but chances are that frugality goes right out the window when you shop for someone you love.
In a study in Judgment and Decision Making, subjects shopped for one of three items: a wedding ring, a storage container for either a grandfather clock or a cremated grandfather (ha!), or birthday cupcakes for a loved one.
Results: When buying for someone they loved, most subjects felt it was inappropriate to question a price, look for a cheaper option, or haggle—even when prices were negotiable. For example, 91 percent of wedding-ring shoppers chose high-priced rings that weren’t necessarily high quality, and most buyers of crematory containers and b’day sweets said OK to any price quoted. But buyers of the “clock box,” a much less personal item, did look for ways to save money.
The study authors call these “sacred” vs. “secular” purchases, meaning: No one wants to look like a cheapskate in the eyes of a loved one—or society.
But words to the wise: Be discriminating about how many people merit big cash outlays—life’s long; you’ll want to make it to the end with a few bucks still in your pocket. And the highest price isn’t always the best value, so refusing to shop around isn’t respectful, it’s stupid—even Grandpa understood that.
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