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Just once can’t I go to Target and spend less than $100?

You know what I’m talking about. You run in for diapers and Scotch tape and you come out 30 minutes later with new oven mitts, a cute pair of workout shorts and the world’s funkiest throw pillows.

A cartoon by Amber Dusick shows a mom pushing her two children in a shopping cart saying, “We just need one thing.”

Suddenly, the Target bull’s-eye logo hypnotizes her and soon she’s saying, “Yes. Yes, I do need curtains.”

The next panel shows her leaving the store with a full cart exclaiming, “Wow. What just happened?”

Another one that made the rounds reads, “ ‘I went to Target and didn’t find anything I wanted,’ said no one ever.”

I know; I’m the Discount Diva. I’m supposed to be frugal. I’m supposed to be able to withstand the siren call of savvy marketing and impulse purchases of (really cool, really pretty) material things.

And for the most part, that’s me!

I can spend an entire day at the mall and walk out with nothing. When I shop, it’s not as a pastime. It’s because there’s something I need and have likely needed for a long time.

But something just happens at Target.

For all my effort to shop local and buy American, I blow hypocritically large amounts of money there.

“It’s their merchandising. They have it down pat,” said Amy Jo Lauber, a certified financial planner. “Plus there’s this illusion that since individual items are inexpensive, you’re not spending a lot – until you check out.”

Lauber noticed her clients with spending problems almost universally had a weakness for Target. Now she orders clients to avoid temptation by simply staying out of the store.

It’s not that the prices are high – it’s exactly the opposite. The prices are so appealing and the value so scrumptious that it’s almost impossible to resist.

Its crack team of designers have stocked every department with sumptuous little treasures. Its always-on-trend inventory gets churned in and out so fast that there is forever something new to catch your eye (and it’s usually flanked by a host of “something new’s” designed to complement it and follow it home).

Case in point: My friend Jessica’s Facebook rant about her most recent Target excursion.

“I went the other day for tin foil and Ziploc bags,” she wrote. “I have new towels, a toothbrush holder, pajamas, a pair of sunglasses and tin foil. See how I didn’t mention Ziploc bags? I forgot them.”

email: schristmann@buffnews.com or call MoneySmart at 849-4612. Follow me at www.Facebook.com/DiscountDiva