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You may think I’m joking with the title of this post. I’m not. My children are getting beans for Christmas. This is a story about how I, like you, am human. This past weekend I almost made a costly mistake by impulsive buying. 

Make sure to read to the end of this post to see how you, too, could get beans for Christmas (or more likely new years by the time they are received)! 

How I Learned of Specialty Beans

It all started at 7:51 a.m. this past Sunday morning. A friend highly recommended watching CBS Sunday Morning on television that airs at 8 a.m. on Sundays. With just enough time to grab a robe and brew a cup of coffee, I made it to the recliner thinking this would be a great way to gradually wake up while the house was still quiet. I learned years ago that my brain and body need about an hour to warm up before they are ready to go full-speed for the day.

About 20 minutes into the show, an agricultural business in Napa Valley California was featured. My interest was immediately peaked, expecting a focus on vineyards and wineries. Instead, the show featured a unique farm raising and selling heirloom beans. It was a David and Goliath story, with the bean raising effort quite appealing in the midst of wine country. 

The longer I watched and the more I learned, the more I wanted beans to eat. And not just any beans, I specifically wanted the beans featured on the show. Even though I was barely awake, I was determined to buy some of the business’s heirloom beans. 

Impulsively Buying Beans

A quick search on my cell revealed an online auction for three 1 lbs. bags of beans from the farm for $17 with free shipping. Impulsively, it punched $20.20 and hit the icon to bid. 

Wait! 

That was what I intended to bid, however, my eyes caught that the decimal point was missing and my bid was really being submitted for $2,020 for three pounds of dried beans. I tried to get my cell phone turned off before the bid was accepted, but it turns out I wasn’t quick enough. 

The online auction was crystal clear that my impulsive buy was the current top bid and, as a frequent online buyer and seller, I knew it would continue to bid for me until someone else bid a price that was over TWO THOUSAND TWENTY DOLLARS for three small bags of dried beans.

Several thoughts progressed through my foggy mind as I continued to watch the television show for another hour. 

  1. “Don’t worry about it. The price isn’t likely to go very high.”
  2. “Don’t bet on it. If you want to buy some of the beans lots of other viewers are wanting to buy some, too, and some of them will have deep pockets.”
  3. “Wait a minute – if I can make a mistake and submit a ridiculously high bid, so could someone else, and then the price will go sky high and I could be on the hook for hundreds to thousands of dollars.”
  4. “Surely I’m not the first person to bid in error. I wonder how a person gets their bid corrected?”
  5. “Get out of this chair and see what you can do to solve the mess you have created!”

By the time the show was over, my online bid for the beans was up to $62. Whenever someone bid, the online auction submitted another bid for me that was $1 higher than the last bid. I realized my impulsive buy was going to happen if I didn’t do something about it.

Admittedly slow to act (remember I am slow to wake up and get going), I got on the online auction site about an hour later and found where I could indicate I had incorrectly entered a bid amount. It was a quick process to withdraw my bid, and, as part of the process, was instructed that it was only right to bid again. 

As a frequent online seller, I was aware of how excited the seller must be to see a bid of $62. Yet when I withdrew my bid, the high bid regressed to $29. Contrite, I entered a not so impulsive bid of $100 to be fair to the seller and to really hammer home my lesson of not taking financial actions when only half awake and when distracted. It was the price of impulsive buying and unfocused shopping.

Here’s where the story takes a positive turn. Within a few hours, the auction bid was $102.50 and I was off the hook to buy the beans for an outrageous price. A day later when the auction ended the beans sold for a grand total of $132.50, happily, to someone else.

Once I was outbid, a second search for the specific bean company had the company’s website as the third item in the search list. Their price for a 1 lb. bag of heirloom beans was $6 each. Someone paid $132.50 for $18 of dried heirloom beans! That means I wasn’t the only impulsive buyer last Sunday.

5 Lessons to Learn 

When it comes to your financial transactions:

Be focused. If you are distracted, rushed, half-asleep, or attempting to multitask, wait until there is a better time when you can focus on your finances. Purchase with intention. 

Online transactions are best done on your computer or laptop. The small size of a cell phone screen limits your information and what you can see well. I have now located the decimal button on my phone (it is not in a predictable location). However, you could miss codes for discounts and free shipping very easily by using a small phone where you can’t see the full screen.

Don’t shortchange your information search. One or two more minutes of online information search would have resulted in going to the bean company website and buying directly from the company, and at a much lower price. Sometimes if you search the specific names of items you can find the same item listed on a number of different websites for sometimes very different prices. It is prudent consumerism to shop around.

Impulsiveness is an enemy of deliberate and effective financial management. If a purchase is not an emergency, slow down and take some time to consider the purchase. I imagine the person paying $132.50 for $18 of beans would agree. Additionally, while that auction listing only had three kinds of beans, the business actually had a multitude of bean types. By shopping on their website I could get the types of beans I wanted most and not be limited to the three types in the auction.

Be aggressive about fixing financial problems. Sometimes being a conscious consumer takes effort and sometimes feels like moving a mountain. Stick to it and move the mountain. What if the online auction only let a person cancel a bid within 30 minutes? I would have still been on the hook for a $2020 bid because I was slow to address the problem after it was discovered.

The Moral of the Story

What’s the end of the story? I’m incredibly human. We all make financial errors sometimes and we all can learn from each other. I hope you will learn from my, thankfully, missed opportunity to impulsively buy specialty beans.

After lucking out from not winning the auction, I still wanted to try their product, I purchased 9 bags of dried beans for $54 directly from the company’s website. This is just over the threshold for free shipping. And that’s why my adult children are getting beans in their Christmas stocking.

Want Some Beans? Take Part In Our Contest!

Now that I have 9 bags of dried beans, I have some to spare! If you are interested in winning a 1-pound bag of dried beans for reading this blog, like or love the post on Facebook from 12/8 and comment with your favorite type of beans. Entries are accepted through 12/21/2020 at 11:59pm. A winner will be chosen 12/22. If you are the winner, we will direct message you for your address so that we can mail you your 1-pound bag of beans.

More Stories from Dr. Thia

Dr. Thia always tells a good story and models learning from her own situations. Recently, COVID fatigue set in, like so many of us have experienced. Read about her experience in this article which also includes strategies for overcoming COVID fatigue. 

Follow MPower Co on Social MediaTo enter to win the 1-pound bag of beans, make sure to visit our page on Facebook. While you are there make sure to follow us as we often provide financial and positive psychology information and post about our latest articles, like this one.