Little Green Lies: Fibbing for Budget’s Sake

**Editor’s Note: I chose this for another “Throwback Thursday” post ~ great reads from last year I’m not ready to archieve w/o one more pass. Enjoy!

I’m an honest person. In fact, I hate lying and am usually terrible at it. I’m the kind of person you should never ask “if your butt looks fat” in those jeans. While I wouldn’t be heartless about it, I’d probably say that we “can find a more flattering style.” So knowing this about myself, I was shocked and appalled by my recent behavior on a shopping trip to a local specialty store.

My friend Cristy at work has the coolest little loose leaf tea pot. I fell in love with it as she kindly made me a cup of tea one afternoon when I was feeling under the weather. So, after some internal deliberation about spending money for something that I wanted but did not necessarily need, I knew that I simply had to have one, too.

Before I went shopping, I estimated that I would probably spend about $30 on a tea pot and a couple of ounces of tea. I knew from the moment the sales clerk opened his mouth that my carefully planned budget had met its match. This guy knew more about tea and tea accessories than Bob Barry knows about Sooner football.  He was simultaneously incredibly helpful and terrifying.

I was firm on only spending a set amount in this store and he was the czar of cross selling. I picked out the tea pot and then moved on to tea. I already knew which type I wanted so I asked for two ounces. He reminded me that you ‘get a better price break if you buy four.’ I was still feeling strong at this point and stuck to my guns. “No, I’ll just start with two ounces, thank you,” I said.

Then, he threw the first curveball my way. “You’ll need a tin to store it in. Otherwise it will rot. Would you like the small one or large one?” My mind started racing. Rotten tea? Well, I can’t have that! I had no choice but to buy the tin, right? So, I weakly said, “I’ll take the small one.” Score one for the tea king.

Next, he asked if I like my tea sweetened and I slowly nodded my head, unsure of where he was going with this line of questioning. He matter-of-factly told me that I would love some of the German rock sugar for only $8. My palms started to sweat. German rock sugar sounded incredibly delicious and I didn’t even know what it was. Wow, this guy was good. Suddenly, I snapped back to reality and before I knew it, a lie slipped out of my mouth. “I usually sweeten my tea with honey.” This is entirely untrue since I usually just use plain ol’ white sugar. Then, he said, “Oh, you have simply got to try a jar of this amazing white honey.” It was $15.

I felt the rush of competitiveness start coursing through my veins. This guy was determined to sell me more stuff than I had intended to buy and I wasn’t going to let that happen. I took a deep breath and steeled my resolve. “Thanks, but I just bought some great honey at the local farmer’s market so I’m all set,” I fibbed. He had no choice but to agree that honey from local bees was best. Defeated, he hung his head and glumly started to ring up my purchases. Game, set, match-Jennifer! Woohoo!

I triumphantly skipped out of the store. But then had a moment of mental pause: I was genuinely surprised by my behavior. What the heck was wrong with me? I don’t lie. Why did I feel compelled to do that? After some soul searching, I realized that the answer was pretty simple. I didn’t want to be perceived as cheap. I had just met the Tea god and I didn’t want him to think I was too poor to afford the finest tea and tea accessories in the universe.

I began to reflect on another time that I had resorted to telling a little white lie (or green lie, in the case of budget preservation) in order to stick to my budget. There was the instance when my husband and I took our son, Griffin in for a photo session that he had won in a baby contest. He got a free sitting fee and two prints but we had the option to buy more. As we sat there in the dim lighting watching a perfectly crafted musical slide show of our precious child, the photographer’s assistant casually mentioned that any pictures we didn’t purchase would be deleted. They were going to destroy pictures of our baby!

When they handed us the price list, I could not look my husband in the eye because he knows me too well. We would have hysterically started laughing right in front of the assistant and that would have just been rude. The only thing more jaw dropping than the photographer’s talent level was the price list.  They wanted more money for just one 5×7 than I make in an entire nine hour work day. The truth was that we really just wanted to get the free stuff we had won. But, what we said was, “We would really rather come back and have our entire family’s pictures taken together. We’ll just purchase one additional print and frame today.”

The fact is that we would have had to cash in little Griffin’s college fund to afford to buy a photo package from this place. They obviously cater to people who are a few tax brackets up from our family. Why did we tell this little green lie? Again, we didn’t want them to think that we are cheap or too poor to afford their amazing work.

I guess in the big scheme of things, telling teeny little lies to strangers in order to get out the door without overspending isn’t too terrible. The bigger offense would be allowing myself to be pressured into buying something that I can’t afford or hadn’t planned to buy. But, I don’t want to be a hypocrite when it comes to lying so I’m going to have to work on it. I need an out. When I feel backed into a corner with a salesperson that is trying to dig deeper into my bank account, I need to tell the truth without sacrificing my dignity.

I’m thinking that a curt “No, thank you” following by a firm stare and tight smile may just do the trick. I guess I’ll find out soon since my tea supply is running low. If you see me pacing outside a tea store, chanting to myself, “You can do this, Jen!” don’t be alarmed. I’m just getting on my shopping game face.



6 thoughts on “Little Green Lies: Fibbing for Budget’s Sake”

  1. I’m never as quick with the little green fibs and usually get caught . . . and spend more – call it pride. I learned a great deal from your article – thanks! Why can’t we honestly say “That’s more than I intend to spend.”? My daughter (24) has absolutely no issue with using those words – why do I hesitate? Love the blog!

  2. Great piece! I’ve found myself in that situation many times, and I’ve had good luck with this: “Thanks, but I’m not willing to purchase this at that price point.” That way, I feel it’s clear that I’m not buying the item by choice. Rock on, empowered buyer! 🙂

  3. This is great! I, too, have found myself making things up to avoid the awkwardness I feel in these situations. Only my fibs somehow turn into the creation of a whole other persona. It’s like I get so nervous I need to be someone else to make it through the ordeal! Otherwise, I’ll definitely buy the extended extended warranty.

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