How many times have you bought something just because it was on sale? Somehow the extra discount and the coupon in your wallet, along with the already sale price made it seem like NOT investing your money for the new sweater, jacket, shoes or electronic device would be a dumb move. You reason that eventually you will really need it anyways, so why not buy it right now, today – especially when the price is so low! Plus, as a bargaining chip, you can reckon with your spouse that the sale was so fantastic, that in actuality you were SAVING money. But were you really?
This line of thinking has its pros and cons. For one thing, you would have saved a lot of money had you just made the decision to NOT buy it, despite all the marketing enticements (that obviously worked). Spending no money and buying something at a good price are definitely two different levels of money management. And while it may be a good idea to purchase regular items you use every day like toilet paper or shampoo in bulk at greatly reduced prices, buying commodities like a car, a new television, or a new pair of shoes will quickly drain your resources. In fact, this likely means that you are like the millions of consumers who impulse buy based on marketing ploys.
Do you think that all of those magazines and candy bars in the check out aisle are really there because the stores have nowhere else to put them? The truth is that marketers in every industry often use marketing ploys like special sales, discounts, coupons, money back certificates, rebates and credit card offers as a way to move their revenue into the black. And marketers truly bank on the fact that you adopt the mentality that if something is a good enough deal…you won’t be able to resist the purchase. The truth is that if certain prices are being offered, chances are that they you will be able to find the same items at the same price when you actually need it. Or cheaper!
Additionally, internet shopping has forced businesses to compete. If you can look up any item in the world and find the best price and get it shipped for free – then why would you want to buy in a brick and mortar store? With auction warehouses providing insight into the best deals available, they have easily run out small businesses that struggle to compete in the price platform. In turn, stores use options that the internet doesn’t. They offer bundles, feature packed deals, and often offer sign ups for things like a credit card to convert into instant discounts. Yet, don’t pay the purchase off on the new credit card right away and you end up paying double or triple the non-sale price for the item.
In order to capitalize on the pros of using your purchasing power to look for sales you must commit to not paying full price for any item. Combining coupons and special offers to get the most for your money might have you spending money when you hadn’t planned to, especially for big-ticket items – but potentially saving thousands in the long run. The trick is balancing your needs versus wants and not demolishing your resources in order to get the best deal. Bottom line is that no matter how discounted a DVD player, computer or lot of groceries are….you ARENT getting them for nothing.
It is normal for all of us to rationalize our spending. Think about Black Friday sales, which have millions of consumers fighting crowds in order to be one of the lucky 15 people to get a computer or vacuum cleaner for practically nothing. Look at your Sunday circular which is packed full of sale items with limited amounts of merchandise available. You get to the store and a sales clerk assuages you into finding something bigger, better and even more reduced than your original item. The sale is too good to be true, so you purchase. Financial experts have a solution for this.
Before you buy anything at all…give yourself time to think. In other words, remember that if an item is on sale right now, chances are it will be on sale at another provider. In other words, the ‘giving it away’ price is not something that is a once in a lifetime price. Plus, most stores offer rain checks and price matching in order to remain competitive. But instead of purchasing, allow yourself 3 days to think about the purchase. Obviously, if you are purchasing groceries or every day items you shouldn’t employ this waiting process. But for ALL other items, you must. By the time three days passed, the fire lit in your mind by marketing will be all but burned out, you will have had time to talk to your spouse about the purchase and you will have had time to research the product. Chances are you might even find a better price or realize that you don’t truly need the item. What you save by waiting, depending on the item in question – could be hundreds or thousands of dollars. Do this for every item you purchase and you will indeed be a smart consumer.
Another strategic move for couples is to come up with a dollar amount on any one item that must be a collaborative purchase. For instance, you could decide that neither of you will spend $50 on any one item, whether it is a coat, a pair of shoes or camera – without consulting the other. Basically, this gives the two of you bargaining power and can help you both be in agreement on a ‘great price’ prior to making the purchase. It also helps you walk away from the super buy momentarily. If the price is that great and it is something that you truly need than the two of you can return to the store to make the purchase.
There are more important things to consider on a purchase than just a great price. While it is easy to rationalize a purchase just because the price was right, it isn’t necessarily the best way to manage your money. In order to protect yourself from marketing ploys – utilize your consumer power. Remember that without YOUR purchases, businesses would not be able to stay afloat.