A year ago, I was at a coffee shop writing and overheard someone say they needed to rush to a store because they were having a One Day Sales event. The response from the other person was “you don’t need it.”
He responded with, “Stop telling me what I can or can’t buy.” An argument ensued in public albeit quietly. They ended up gathering their belongings and leaving. Both seemed quite frustrated.
I really don’t know the situation between the couple. I only got a glimpse into their lives based on that short passionate discourse they had for about 10 minutes. The conversation between the couple became an inspiration to write this blog post.
Before I continue, it might be good to point out the importance of open communication about money with your significant other. Erin Lowry’s newest book, Broke Millennial Talks Money, is a helpful guide in navigating these types of conversations.
As I sat drinking my coffee, I was wondering how many heated conversations happen on a daily basis between couples about spending. But, at that moment, I was more curious about the power of marketing to make people feel compelled to buy and buy now.
With a One Day Sale, a Bargain Isn’t a Bargain if…
As a marketer, I know that great marketing makes a person believe one’s life is incomplete unless they’ve purchased the product. One-Day Sales are creative tactics to push a shopper to buy sooner rather than later.
I rationalized that One Day Sales gave me the opportunity to buy the items I wanted cheaply. If I needed a reason to break the budget or charge items to a credit card, then buying “bargains” was the sure-fire excuse to do it without guilt.
I have been tempted by the One Day Sales event more often than I can admit. I couldn’t resist the savings. Yes, I thought buying something at a discount was saving money.
If I can buy a $50 shirt for $20, why shouldn’t I? It’s a bargain after all. I’m saving $30.
Something happens in our brains and we’re compelled to look at the amount we’re “saving” and not how much we’re spending. “Hey guys, did you see my new whatsacallit? It was on sale today and I saved $30.”
Thankfully, I finally realized it’s simply spending money. Saving money is when I put money into my savings goals, not into my purchases.
In my book, I shared how I learned a bargain isn’t a bargain if you don’t actually need it. Haven’t read my book? You can get a copy here with this link. Maybe it’s on sale? 🙂
Breaking the Cycle of Bargain Shopping
May of us have fallen for the One Day Sales promotion at one time or another. If you’re still struggling to curb your spending impulses for bargains, there is a process to help you.
Whenever I make a purchase, planned or unplanned, I ask myself these simple questions in sequence:
- Do I need it?
- Do I need it now?
- What will happen if I don’t have it?
And if I can answer these questions with a yes, I will ask a final question, “Do I have the cash to make the purchase now or am I willing to work more hours in the future to pay for it?
Asking these questions has given me the pause I needed to rationalize the purchase, not fall prey to my emotions. By simply asking these questions, I’ve kept myself from making purchases that had no actual value to the life I’m creating.
There’s also an interesting thing that’s happened when asking these questions for all purchases. I often get so lazy going through the questions that I don’t even bother spending another second contemplating the purchase. I simply move on. If I find myself asking the questions above, it’s because the purchase is something I have considered.
How to Protect Your Budget from the One Day Sales
There are times when making a purchase during a One Day sale makes sense. One Day Sales are great if you’ve already planned on buying the item, budgeted for it and are now getting it at a steep discount.
I do have a list of items I need or want and plan to buy. I often wait for annual sale dates to purchase them, but I’ll be honest and say I’ll set alerts for products when they drop at a good price point.
How do I reconcile my savings goals with my spending list?
For example, a new laptop or a DSLR camera are listed with the going price. I allocate money into a savings account associated with those items. Now, if I find an item I want on sale and have the funds, I make the purchase.
For example, I was saving for a $700 Apple iPad I can use for presentations. I had saved about $500 and still had a couple of months before making the purchase. Best Buy was having a One Day Sale that priced the iPad down to $500. I made the purchase with cash guilt-free.
Guess what? The extra $200 I planned on saving for the iPad is now going towards buying other items I had on my wanted list.
Don’t have savings goals? Set up a purposeful savings strategy to help you align your savings to specific life events, goals, and purchases.
On another note, I wonder if a financial institution would consider doing a “One Day Save” promotion. I can see it now with “Save $100 today and get an extra percent on your savings or get a ‘get out of a fee’ card.” Might be a good way to entice people to save.
Have you fallen for the One Day Sale? Share in the comments below.