A pregnant friend invited me to go Ikea on Bank Holiday Monday. I’ve visited Ikea in other countries and know that it is one large consumer trap, the mother of man eating cash cows in the retail sector and I am wary of it. There is something magical about the big blue and yellow box of Swedish home wares. As you enter the doors a sprinkling of invisible magic shopping dust engulfs you and you find yourself lusting after flat pack coffee tables because they are only €20. There are acres of gizmos and gadgets that promise to organise and revolutionise your life and they are hard to resist. It also has the power to make you buy tea lights, lots of them, and cheap glass holders to put them in. The day after any trip to Ikea you will always find at least one purchase that you have difficulty remembering exactly what it was for. When you do eventually figure it out you won’t have the faintest idea why it was so appealing in the showroom. But even knowing the financial pitfalls and dangers of a visit to the great shrine of Swedish design and innovation I still found myself agreeing and looking forward to the trip. I also believed in my naivety that I had enough Ikea experience to negotiate the retail trickery and come out with a few bargains, sanity intact. My friend’s main reason for going was a set of shelves for the new nursery. This perfect set of shelves was just €14.99! Who wouldn’t want to spend a whole day in pursuit of such good value bounty? There were also a few things that I needed to replace around my own house. My way of combating the impulse spending was to write a list and go prepared. It consisted of five small items which, according to the website (I had even done my research), wouldn’t cost more than about €40 in total. My friend, also working on previous experience, had her list too. We both allowed some wiggle room for one or two impulse buys but no more. With the new motorway we were sitting in the Ikea car park in no time.