What's your shopping IQ?


You may find this hard to believe but it is not only making money that requires intelligence - spending it does too. According to Future Foundation - a think tank specializing in consumer behavior - we all have a shopping IQ which can be measured with a simple formula.

Well, maybe a not-so-simple formula that relates to thriftiness, self-control, openness to change, comparison shopping and researching items prior to shopping. The more you exercise these qualities the better. And the big news is that in a comparative study of nine European states the Czech Republic did exceptionally well -it came in third after Poland and France.

How come we are so good? Well, we have two things going for us. With an average wage that is five times lower than that in most west European states we are not in the big spenders' league. And big spenders are said to have very low shopping IQs for a very simple reason - with the kind of money they are making they don't spend much time thinking about thriftiness, self-control or comparative shopping. And, secondly, we have excellent training from the communist days as regards scouting the market for a given product and keeping informed at all times about what is selling where. Anyone who managed to keep their family supplied with hard-to-get oranges or bananas during the communist days knows a lot about market research. And when there was a "temporary" shortage of toilet paper the grapevine market-news-system that we mere mortals developed would make heads spin at the Future Foundation centre.

OK, so we lost our cool after the fall of the Iron Curtain and, dazzled by the diversity of goods on the market, went on a shopping spree that lasted for over a decade. But now we are back in control -with all our shopping savvy: thriftiness, self-control, openness to change, comparison shopping and research. It is only when I see a really fabulous handbag in a shop window that I can't seem to recall any of the five commandments. I only see the handbag.