Steel Advice: One guy's cheap, the other a big-time shopper

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DEAR STEEL ADVICE: I buy clothes online at a store that "guarantees" a 100 percent return policy, no questions asked. I bought a brand new tie and wore it the first day. At lunch I accidently spilled ketchup on it and ruined it. I decided to take them up on the return and got a brand new version of the same item. Am I cheap or just savvy?


DEAR COST CONSCIOUS: You are cheap, and the store is savvy. The store's "no questions asked" guarantee is soft advertising. This store has you pegged as its customer for life. If your purchase was made at a boutique or department store, you would never try to return the stained tie because you know the store would never take it back.

Companies with a "we take anything back" motto are aware they will have to accept used and worn items for return; however, their profit is enhanced by customer loyalty. When customers buy with confidence, they continue to buy. A store's liberal return policy drives business. It is a form of insurance, and it is not free even though it seems that way. When the store sent you a new tie you won and so did the store. All of that said, if it feels like cheating it probably is. Next time use a napkin when you eat food with ketchup.

DEAR STEEL ADVICE: My husband, "Bob," is a spontaneous buyer. He is a professional and works very hard. However, he has an issue when out shopping and will come home with the whole store. When we receive the credit card bill, he complains about the one item I bought.


DEAR CAREFUL DECISION MAKER: When the credit card bills arrive, your husband complains about the item you purchased because he is angry. He is angry when he sees the itemized charges that have created budget havoc. He may not recognize that his shopping has contributed to the problem because many of his purchases are long forgotten. The monthly credit card statements, however, never forget purchases made by necessity or impulse. Your husband is overwhelmed. So he complains about your spending when in reality he is the emotional spender.

Some couples have eased their money issues by establishing a general household account for necessary and fixed expenses and by creating auxiliary accounts for each spouse. Think of these supplemental accounts as adult allowances. Most couples feel entitled to some discretionary spending without being second-guessed by their mates. Bob's retail therapy and compulsive spending behavior need to be reined in, however, if they are becoming a pattern and are not isolated incidents.

Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice. First Published October 7, 2013 8:00 PM


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