It’s Not Saving If You Don’t Need It

You shop like a tourist; you go broke like a tourist

Don’t blow your money on things you dont need.

Here’s a problem I see way too often.

You’re at the store and you see a great deal on something you’ve wanted for a long time: a pair of shoes, an iPad, anything you might want.

While buying it isn’t in your budget, it’s 70% off and you’ll save over $100 bucks if you buy it today during this insane sale. That’s a good idea, right?

Wrong. Buying something you don’t need because it’s “on sale” isn’t the same as saving money. You don’t “save” 70% by buying it, you spend 30% and fall into one of the oldest marketing tricks.

It Starts With Culture

We live in a spending culture. Since the first time your eyes and ears opened to the world, marketers have been bombarding you with adver­tising telling you about all the wonderful things you need to the spend money you don’t have on.

To make it worse, most parents are so consumed in the same culture they can’t prepare us for what’s to come. The try to teach us how to find deals and search out the best prices, but most of them are doing exactly what marketers want them to do – spending more than they should on things they don’t really need.

So when you see a massive sale on that thing you’ve been marketed at for months, it’s natural for you to ratio­nalize the decision as savings.

I was going to buy this anyway,” you think, “So this purchase is saving me money!

It’s a lie.

What To Do

Over­coming decades of training is hard. But with a few steps, you can go a long way in winning this battle:

  • Now means never. If the sale is today only or a one-time offer then say no. They’re trying to override your reason with “deals” on things you don’t need. Instead, give yourself 24 to 48 hours to sit on the purchase. If you still want it in 48 hours, go to the next step.
  • Only in the budget. Only buy things that are already in the budget. If you have money set aside for free spending and it’s enough to buy that item and you’ve stepped away from the store to think about it, then it’s okay to buy it. But if it’s outside the budget or you have to move things around to pay for it then say no.
  • Talk to someone. Are you actually going to use this? Is it going to collect dust for months and months? Can you get it even cheaper somewhere else if you wait a few weeks or months? Talk to someone you trust who is good with money and get their opinion. You may want something just to want it, not because you’d actually have any use for it.

Stop Fooling Yourself

Whether you follow these steps or not, you need to stop fooling yourself; getting a discount is not the same as saving money – espe­cially if you weren’t already going to buy the thing.

Give yourself time to cool off, make sure it’s in the budget, and talk to someone you trust before dropping big money on discounted stuff. It could save you thousands in the long run.

What did you “save money” on that’s now collecting dust?

What do you regret buying?

8 Responses to “It’s Not Saving If You Don’t Need It”

  1. Loren Pinilis February 2, 2012 at 1:01 PM #

    I’ve heard of people making a list of things they wanted to buy with discre­tionary income and waiting as much as 30 days before moving to the next step. It’s amazing how your desires change over that period of time.

    • Alex February 2, 2012 at 1:21 PM #

      I’ve done that in the past for big purchased. In one instance, I picked out the laptop I wanted and waited 6 months to buy it! A bit extreme, but it ended up saving me 400 bucks and my old laptop held out until then. lol

  2. Jon White February 2, 2012 at 2:08 PM #

    Alex, I think we have all done this at some point and convinced ourselves that we were ‘saving’ money by buying something. It’s just goes to show how powerful marketing is in our culture. But it is like I tell people; just because it’s a good deal does not mean it is a good deal for you. If you don’t have the money to pay for it then it really isn’t a good deal for you even if you are going to use it.

    • Alex February 3, 2012 at 4:28 PM #

      Very true.

  3. Brent Pittman February 2, 2012 at 6:30 PM #

    Great photo! Did you take that?

    • Alex February 3, 2012 at 4:27 PM #

      Unfor­tu­nately, no. I got it creative commons via flickr. There is a link at the bottom of the post.

  4. Dan Black February 5, 2012 at 1:05 PM #

    What great points. I have made the mistake of buying something on sale when it was not in my budget. Great point about only buying thins that are on your budget. It’s hard but important.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks:

  1. Some links I’ve been meaning to post… « e429 - February 11, 2012

    […] It’s Not Saving If You Don’t Need It | Entre­pre­life. –Good advice that we probably all know but ignore: “Buying something you don’t need because it’s “on sale” isn’t the same as saving money.“ […]

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