Impulse buy or once in a lifetime opportunity?
Earlier this summer, Mrs. Stew and I went on an overnight trip in honor of our 10 year anniversary. We were able to stay at one of the nicest vacation venues that either of us had ever experienced due to an offer through a website called LivingSocial. We got a fantastic price because everything came together at once: available when we needed it and when we could afford to take advantage. Last week, Ace Hardware held a “bucket” sale, meaning that you received 25% off everything that could be fit into a 10-gallon Ace buck. My timing was perfect as we needed a new bathroom fan . . . which fit in the bucket . . . I got a steal.
We all love to buy stuff for cheaper than expected, the problem is that a deal does not really put you ahead financially if you do not need the item or if it costs more than you can afford – not more than the item is worth – more than you can afford. I recently had a sales person offer me a trip to a resort for a ridiculously low amount of money, but I turned it down primarily because I was confident that there was a “catch” somewhere. However, even if everything had been completely above board, I would have passed on the offer for three reasons: wrong time, wrong place, not enough cash. There are good deals all over, but the problem is finding a good deal at the right moment in time or finding a good deal when you can afford it.
There are many circumstances where we must let a good deal “pass” no matter what.
The sudden lowering of a price is intended to provoke an impulse buy on the part of the consumer. We must have a system or “grid” in place in order to evaluate a “good deal” that seems to come out of nowhere. How good a deal is is? Is is a quality product? Do we really need it? How often will we use it? If I had never seen this item, would I have missed it in my life? Does this item fall under a budget category?
Here are 7 considerations that will help you balance frugal cash flow against missing out on deals that can save you money:
1. Be consistent. If you want to find good deals, you must develop a habit of frequenting places where good deals congregate. Some of the best deals in the world are found at rummage sales and second-hand stores – but not every day or every week. You cannot be discouraged, just be faithful.
2. Keep a list. You need to be aware of your needs because you never know when a good deal will pop up. Sometimes I type a list of things for which to keep an eye out on my Blackberry.
3. Stick to your list. If you come across a good deal, but that item is not on your list of needs, do you really need it? In other words, if you are living a successful life without a widget, do not buy one just because there happens to be a widget clearance sale.
4. Understand cash flow. Purchasing a $900 flat-screen television for $300 might be a great bargain. But if that flat-screen is not on your list of needs, you did not save $600, but rather you are now $300 in the hole in terms of your financial plan.
5. Think ahead! Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent sees the evil and hides himself.” Look ahead and determine your future needs as much as possible. If you purchase things off-peak, you can save a lot of money. Our family purchased a tent in January of last year. Even though we did not need the tent until July, we knew that we would have never found a tent for that price in May or June.
6. Remember. Mrs. Stew is great about purchasing small items that will make quick and easy gifts down the road. The problem is that sometimes she forgets what she has on hand. Keep track of what you have and do not missplace things that you already own.
7. Look for deals on the internet. But be slow to pull the trigger . . . here are my favorite “deal” websites: