It’s Only a Deal If…

by Kevin on February 5, 2009

…you paid a smaller price than you would normally pay

If the sign says “Sale!” and the price is pretty much the same you would normally pay, you aren’t getting a deal.

If you don’t know what price you would normally pay you aren’t paying attention to your spending. (That’s bad.)

…you will actually use what you bought

This seems incredibly basic yet many people apparently don’t get it. The “Quasi-Annual Mega Super Duper Going Out of Business Sale” is designed to get you to come in and buy stuff. Stuff you likely do not need. Stuff that ends up filling up your cabinets, attic, garage, and storage unit. (Note: if all of these spaces are truly overflowing for you, you’ve got too much crap.)

Never buy for the sole reason of “well it was on sale”.

…there weren’t any less expensive options

If your favorite brand of detergent goes on sale and the generic house brand sitting right next to is still less expensive, you’re buying the wrong brand. The last time I checked detergents pretty much have the same “active ingredients” in them. The cheaper the better.

Another example is iPods. Do you really need 16GB of storage? Do you ever plan to listen to 16,000 songs all in the same sitting? Would the 4GB version serve you just as well while saving you a ton of money? I rest my case.

…you actually needed the item in the first place

Is this purchase motivated by a want or a need? Are you buying cereal or consumer electronics? Have you really considered the alternatives (not getting the newest, shinest, bestest gadget life changer to replace the one you bought six months ago)? “Seriously. I totally love… wait. Did they just release an update? I have to have it!”

We all have hobbies. We all spend money on stuff. Just make sure that when you’re hunting for deals you aren’t stumbling around in the woods without any direction. If you don’t know what you are looking for to start with, the first, second, and third shiny objects you run across become the best purchase you ever made.

So don’t spend without thinking. Stop letting the carnal beast inside you dictate where your credit card gets swiped. You’ve theoretically get opposable thumbs for a reason… use your grey matter for financial good.

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tom February 5, 2009 at 10:00 pm

speaking of “you paid a smaller price than you would normally pay”

I can relate this to whenever there are sales, say at the local grocery store. I see so many people doing this.
Say a product is 6 bucks but not it costs 4 bucks. so what do people do, they buy 2 of them and end up spending 8 bucks.

Now if you actually need it then it may be a bargain for you, but if you are just buying because its on sale and cheap, well there we have a problem

Kevin February 5, 2009 at 10:02 pm

@tom: What we love about Publix is if they run a BOGO sale, if you only buy one, it is still 50% off. So if it is something you won’t use two of before it goes bad or something like that, you still get the deal.

Bob B February 6, 2009 at 9:16 am

It is so difficult passing up on those shiny items when you are a techo-geek. That is where the opposable thumbs come in handy, to grab them from the other hand and put it back on the shelf!

Steve in Denmark February 6, 2009 at 11:22 am

That’s what wives were invented for: To say ‘Steve, do you really NEED another iPod, when you’ve got 5 already?’.

Wives thereby serve (yet) another purpose…by asking tricky questions like that, you get great mental exercise trying to think of an unanswerable answer.

“But…erm, this one’s new!” “And, if I buy it in the UK, and my Dad sends it here, with the exchange rate – I’ll actually SAVE money!”

She fell for it…I mean; she agreed with me.

Kevin February 6, 2009 at 7:30 pm

@Bob: Oh I completely agree. I’ve been able to control myself very well, but I definitely feel the tug of want, want, want.

@Steve: …wow. Nice 🙂 My wife reads this blog so I won’t comment further!

Steve in Denmark February 7, 2009 at 3:06 am


To be fair to us both: We have joint accounts (one ‘main’ one into which our wages are paid and bills are paid from. A second is our ‘day-to-day’ or ‘Entertainment Food Travel’ account, into which the main account pays a set amount every two weeks (so we don’t spend it all in one go!), so we live from the second account). Our budget(ing) includes a monthly ‘allowance’ of 500 Kroner each. We can choose to spend it (obviously you can’t spend more than you have left that month) or save up. I saved mine up for several months.

Just after Christmas, the UK economy (I’m originally from England) went really bad and the Pound dropped to around 7.75 Dkk. So I dived in and ‘saved’ (against going to downtown Ã…rhus and buying it) around 600Dkk. I got it off and because it was delivered inside the UK (to my parents’ in Wales) I also got free postage. My Dad then forwarded it on to me here in Denmark, at a cost of about £7.00. Not a bad bit of business, if you ask me.

I’m also a student (again) now – learning my job better, so I can go up several pay grades by the end of the year – and I’m off down town now to buy the new iWork software (it’s all allowed for in the Budget!) at 8% discount, using my new Student Discount Card. Sweet.

Start-Up February 7, 2009 at 1:43 pm

I absolutely agree that it’s only a deal if it’s the cheapest that you can find it, not because it’s on sale. The circuit city liquidations are great examples. I haven’t bought a thing at these circuit city liquidations even though I’m continuously on the lookout for deals on electronics and movies. These liquidations that gave anywhere from 10% to 50% off didn’t provide me the savings that I can find on (my favorite deal site).

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