They don’t call America the land of the free for nothing.
Because when there is anything free going, I tell you, the frenzy feeding of the 5000 has nothing on it.
Well, I use the word “free” loosely. What I really mean is that there are non-stop sales, coupons and vouchers, and Happy Hours that can last all night. For me, and my less than skilful ability to handle money, this translates into: being conned into breaking my neck running for the Macy’s one-day sale, thinking it won’t be back the other 364 days of the year; stocking up on things I neither want nor need because there is 20% off; and drinking crap drinks because they’re cheap.
I’ve never been good with money – or, rather, I’ve never been very good at hanging on to it (as readers of my forthcoming book, Broke: A Life of Small Change, will soon see – I am just putting the finishing touches to it). When I earned a lot more than I do now, I liked to share my good fortune (heck, what’s money for, if not to make life better for as many as possible – that’s the utilitarian in me).
Now I earn less, I have to budget. Instead of buying a new pair of Jimmy Choo shoes when a pair gets a scuff-mark, I have all my shoes repaired. Similarly, with clothes. At the Bafta garden party a few weeks back, I wore a dress from Next that I bought when I was 23 – over 30 years ago. I have never had so many compliments. The fact that I could still get into it was especially pleasurable.
I have recently decamped from LA to New York and, as the cost of shipping furniture is extortionate, have decided to leave it in storage in California, not least because if I ever earn decent money again (ie when all of you buy my book on Amazon), I’d still like to spend half the year there.
But this has meant a whole new apartment to furnish, and I really have to do it on the smallest of budgets – which means IKEA.
I once kitted out my Paris apartment with a ton load of IKEA and it served me very well. The only problem was that I saved so much money by shopping there, I thought it was okay to go out and spend £1800 on a designer chair (See what I mean? Money just leaps from my fingers). Much of that stuff is now in LA storage, having travelled to three countries in as many years, so I thought I’d go the same route in New York.
I hadn’t had much luck with Amazon (air-bed – returned; suitcase – returned; sofa – returned), so went back to my trusted IKEA. And this is where I am: out of 35 items, 12 are sitting boxed up in the apartment ready to go back.
I swear I could have made a better sofa out of a log and a couple of handkerchiefs than what arrived from them. Poor quality doesn’t even begin to cover it (a bit like the sofa cushion, which couldn’t have supported a Chihuahua) and, I discovered, IKEA is not as cheap as it used to be. So while the prices have gone up, the workmanship has gone down. I was pleased with my 18 piece dinner service for $19.99 . . . Well, I would have been, had I not already spent a heck of a lot more on the far superior Gordon Ramsay Royal Doulton collection that I picked up in the Hurry Down to Macy’s Independence Day Sale for my 15% off.
Bed, Bath and Beyond have so far served me well – except for the fact that they don’t sell beds, which I thought a bit of a misrepresentation. They don’t sell baths, either, but anything you want to go with said bath or bed (that you have already sent back to IKEA) is there. You just won’t have anything to put it in or on.
I am very pleased with my ironing board, even though it nearly decapitated me when I tried to erect it; and the Gordon Ramsay Royal Doulton collection is fabulous (okay, I admit it: I had to supplement the Macy’s two persons setting box – I had my Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% online voucher, after all - in case I have a dinner party with the dining table I managed to assemble from IKEA. Oh no, I forgot. I can’t have a dinner party because all the dreadful IKEA chairs are packed up ready to go back to the store).
So, at the moment, I am sleeping on an IKEA sofa-bed (24 hour assembly on my part) with a mattress topper (purchased at the Hurry Down to the Macy’s 4th July Sale) and my air-bed (number two from Amazon) is serving as a sofa in my living-room because I can’t be bothered to swop them round again in the light of IKEA-gate.
I think I deserve a reward, and where better to head than to Rudy’s, my local dive bar that offers a beer and a Jamesons for $4, and you get a free hot dog, too. I don’t drink beer, don’t drink whisky, and don’t like saveloy hot dogs. But heck, it’s only $4. Look what I’ve saved!
And with what I've saved, I might just head over to the Macy's Super Saturday sale.