A year or two ago I was asked whether I would be waking early to queue for a popular store’s opening day of their sales. Such was the popularity for the bargain hunters, eager to bag a fabulous deal or two, that their opening time had been pushed further and further back over the previous couple of years.
Whilst the doors wouldn’t be opening until 6am, people would queue from at least an hour before – maybe more. The person asking me would be joining them as it was something she never, ever missed. Who in their right minds would miss the opportunity to get something for way below the usual price, after all?
I answered her question with a no. No, I wouldn’t be getting up at some ungodly hour, to participate in the stampede once the doors were flung open. She was incredulous. Why wouldn’t I, when I loved a bargain as much as anybody else? Madness, surely?
My answer was that we simply didn’t need anything. At that moment in time, everyone had what they needed. They had enough clothes for all seasons. We had shoes, we had coats and we had nothing in particular which needed replacing in the home.
At that point you would have thought I had landed on earth from another planet.
But it’s a sale.
Things are reduced.
You’ll be missing lots of deals that you can save money on!
Since when did needing come into it?
Every year when the January Sales begin we hear about how many shoppers are hitting the stores eager to grab a fabulous deal at a fraction of the price.
Working in a department store as a teenager I witnessed previously docile, perfectly pleasant old ladies become rottweilers of the shop floor, shoving and kicking aside anyone daring to close in too much on something they had set their eye on.
You only have to witness shoppers during the January Sales to see what I mean. Arms and baskets are laden with goods but what kind of goods, they probably couldn’t tell you half the time. The truth was, their focus wasn’t on what they were grabbing but on the price label. If it showed a considerable reduction on the original price then they would fight to buy it, no matter what it was. Wants and needs were not given a second thought. A bargain was a bargain, no matter what. And I quickly realised that this wasn’t a one-off.
January Sales never cease to amaze me. Actually, the way people react to them, in the way I’ve just illustrated, never ceases to amaze me. Yet, when you point out that a bargain isn’t actually a bargain when you’re buying something you wouldn’t normally buy they have difficulty understanding it.
Stores have brainwashed shoppers into believing a reduced price label is saving them money. But if you’re spending money on something you didn’t need, you’re wasting money.
3 rules to remember
1. If you spend money on something you don’t need, or didn’t want until you saw the reduction on the price tag as you walked by, then you are wasting money you wouldn’t normally have spent. Therefore, you are not saving money at all. It doesn’t matter if the product cost was reduced to £5 from £15 – if you wouldn’t have bought it any other time then you’re a fiver down, not ten pounds up.
2. If you buy something and don’t use it you haven’t saved anything. You’ve wasted money. Buying yourself/your partner/your children several new outfits when you/they already have a wardrobe full (and then some) means you are buying for buying’s sake. Those guilty of this behaviour normally have several excuses under the sun but I’ll challenge you now to go through your wardrobes and I will guarantee you will find several items from previous which still have the labels attached. They have never been worn, probably won’t be worn – given the amount of time you’ve had them stashed for – and you can’t take them back for a refund. Tot up the price of the labels and that’s how much money you’ve wasted for something you don’t need, don’t use and never will. And the problem is, you probably do the same thing over and over at every sale you attend. That is not saving and you haven’t bagged a bargain.
3. Don’t use credit cards! By all means, if you do need something or if you have found something you always fancied but could never quite afford at a bargain price feel free to treat yourself. But remember, if you’re whacking it on the credit card it is not free money that you are using. You will have to pay it back and you will have to pay it back with interest. By the time the sales have been exhausted, the credit card bills come rolling in and the full realisation of how much your deals will cost you starts to sink in. If you have bought something using a credit card with the intention of paying it off in full before interest in charged then do it. But remember, things happen and sometimes the best laid plans don’t tend to go as you imagine they will. If you’ve overspent on something you didn’t need in the first place, not only have you accumulated more junk to get rid of at a later time, you’re paying over the odds for it too.
Your bargain find can end up costing far more than it would have at full price over time, so before buying something think carefully. If you don’t need it, didn’t want it before you just saw it and probably won’t use it, it’s likely you’ll be wasting your hard earned cash.
Remember, a penny saved is better than a penny earned as it’s tax free so quit spending unnecessarily and you’ll be way ahead of the bargain hunters!