Welcome back to my retail therapy mini-series, where I cover some of the pitfalls of shopping and how to avoid them. Last week we talked about impulse purchases. This week is about the siren song for many: sales.
Having a background in advertising, my stance on sales is different than most people's. (You'll see why momentarily.) By and large, I don’t care about sales. I rarely seek them out. Now perhaps you’re thinking that you’re on a tight budget and have to shop sales. Well hold onto your cocktail Sunshine because I’m about to show you how you can save money without being a slave to sales.
I only shop when it’s what I call “mission specific.” In other words, I only go the store when I specifically need something. As an example, whenever I have an event I need an outfit for, I go to one of my favorite stores, tell a sales person what I need and let them do the work for me. I save time (which equals money), I’m getting something I KNOW I’ll use (making the item a smaller cost per use), and I truly need it making it money well spent. I’ve done this for first dates, opening nights, and formal galas, and I’ve never been steered wrong.
(Side note – if I’m looking to round out a missing staple from my closet, like a great, classic pencil skirt, then I may start on one of my favorite discount sites like ThredUP, but I won’t necessarily pass on a full price item if it’s exactly what I need. After all, this is a need not a want.)
Because I (for the most part) only buy what I need, I save money because I’m not wasting it on things I don’t. Now if it happens to be on sale? Score! But if it’s not, I won’t fret over it because it all evens out in the wash. Plus, I’d rather pay full price for something I’ll need, use, and love rather than half-price for something that’s going to end up as clutter, tucked into a closet, or in the donation bin before too long. Another huge benefit and money saver from shopping mission specific is that you’re less likely to impulse purchase things you don’t need because you’re not randomly wandering the stores.
Pro tip: if shopping is your cardio or something you do when you're bored or for fun, you'll need to alter this habit. Make a list of activities you can do instead of shopping. Then when you get the urge to shop "just cuz" you can refer to that list for a different activity. You can also make a wish list of bigger ticket items that you can save up for with the money saved from not going mindlessly shopping.
Now here are a couple of handy-dandy bits of info to know about sales, a.k.a. that time the advertising industry got pissed at me for using my degree against them.
- Sales aren't there for your benefit. I hate to be the one to tell you and I hope you don’t shoot the messenger: businesses don't have sales to help you save money. Sales are to benefit and make the business more money while masquerading as something nice for you. If the item on sale is something you wouldn’t normally purchase or wouldn’t pay full price for, they won. Don't let them win.
- There’s something known as a “loss leader.” The loss leader is the sale item that’s meant to draw you into the store where you purchase that item along with impulse purchase things that you don’t need that are regular price. In the end, the hit taken on the sale price is made up in all the other purchases you made. All those mega-insane-cheap sales you'll see on Black Friday? Loss leaders.
- Everything in the store is VERY specifically designed to make you purchase more, from layout to music to colors. You think it’s a coincidence that the Dollar Spot is at the front of Target? “Oh I’ll just look and see if I need anything.” If you don’t already know, you don’t.
Working mission specific and with a list will help you bypass much of it.
Pro tip: what about coupons? If the coupon is for an item that you would normally purchase then go for it. This is true savings. However, if you wouldn't normally buy that product then you're not saving any money and so don't need to buy that product. (Unless it's something you've wanted to try but haven't due to cost. In which case - WooHoo true savings!)
Remember, if you have clothing in your closet that you bought on sale and the tags are still on because you're not wearing it, you didn't save money. Instead of looking for only sales, shop "mission specific" to get only what you need, use, and love while saving money. Yes, you'll have to find a replacement if shopping is your cardio, but that will be worth it to have the home that you want and money in the bank.
Drop in next week when we talk about how organizing saves you money!
Need assistance in clearing the clutter and resisting the siren song of sales? I want to help. Contact me today and let's get started!