I guess it's true that I'm congenitally cheap, but I will shell out the big bucks if I think I'm getting a bahgain, as they say in Boston. This was brought home to me recently by two incidents.
I was looking through the Nashbar catalog. I should preface this by saying I haven't really bought much from Nashbar in recent years -- in the late '80s I stockpiled enough equipment to see me far into the milennium. So mostly I buy staples like tubes and brake pads that I'm too lazy to go to a real bike store for. But I always look at the closeout items. I don't really look at what they're selling, or even what it costs, necessarily, but instead I look at the ratio of the clearance price to the alleged normal selling price. If this ratio is suitably low, I convince myself that I need to buy one (or ten). Only then do I consider what the item actually is, and whether I do in fact have a need for it.
I was looking through the catalog and noticed some really low prices on aero bars. I was deciding which one to buy, or maybe both, when the voice of reason chimed in and reminded me that I had about three sets of Profile aero bars that I'd bought on sale in the early '90s. Now, aero bars are not a high maintenance item. You pretty much bolt it on, and unless you have a major crash, it's yours for life. And I'm not one to replace perfectly useable equipment when a better model comes along. In fact, I'm usually the one buying the old model when someone else upgrades to the new stuff. So having all my current bikes fitted with aero bars and three in reserve, I guess I'm set in the aero bar department. So I resisted the urge to buy more, despite the considerable savings. This for me was a breakthrough, a first step on the road to recovery.
The other event that brought home this problem of mine was when I shredded my rear tire. Knowing I had a stockpile of tires at home, I made the ultimate sacrifice and used a dollar bill for a boot, and continued (Note: dollars bills that are used for boots are probably not suitable for those machines that swallow currency anymore). I got home, extracted the dollar and looked around for a suitable replacement tire. It turns out that I had about five 700x20C tires, not because I own any bikes that could use them, but because I got a really good deal on them. Finding no 700x28C tires, which I really would have preferred for a commuting bike, I was forced to use one of these skinny numbers, stuffing a 700x28C tube into it with great difficulty. But I did get a good deal on it.
So too with my shoe collection. I have a collection of cycling shoes to rival Emelda Marcos. Well, I'm not sure Emelda has any cycling shoes, but you get the idea. Some of them even actually fit, sort of. As I said, my first criterion is price. Only then I look at size. Most sale items become sale items because they haven't been able to sell them. A major reason for this is that they come in odd sizes. So the size selection in the super closeout items is usually pretty limited. So, if the size offered in +/-4mm within the size I would wear if I had any shoes that fit, I say "buy."