Money sense

Some people get really excited about sales. They jump up and down when they see ordinary items suddenly embellished with a 20%, 30% or sometimes 50% off sticker.

Eagerly they calculate their savings and are ecstatic that they can save $20 on their usual $100 item that happens to be on sale. At the end of their spree they might even go up to friends and declare proudly how they’ve saved hundreds of dollars by having shopped during a sale.

Wait a minute, did they actually say they’ve saved money by spending it? sounds a little ironic doesn’t it?

Sadly they’re forgetting two things:

1. By shopping during a sale you might inadvertently buy more than you really need. This is especially so in a ‘buy 2 get 1 free’ offer where you might really only one item but you’re forced to get 2 more that you won’t use after a month. also, once the feelings gone, did you really need 3 mediocre Hawaiian shirts on sale as compared to a really good one that’s full price?

2. The biggest saving you could ever make is by not spending in the first place.  That’s a whooping big 100% saving that you can’t get even at the best sales.  ok, I admit that you won’t get anything at all in the end but it also saves you from buying unnecessary stuff that you’ll end up regretting a day later.

Sales are geared towards human compulsion.  Shop owners know that if buyers just believe they’re getting a good deal it puts them in the mood to spend their money.  And if you hit them right they’ll spend even more than they originally set out to in the first place.  Too many times have i seen people go into a shop hoping to get ONE shirt for $20 and leaving later with THREE shirts at a total cost of $50 instead.  Sure that’s a $10 saving on the full cost of 3 shirts but ultimately a $30 increase in expenditure that wasn’t necessary in the first place.  And the feeling of euphoria does not last… the next day you’re left with 2 ugly shirts that you somehow have to live with or eventually give/throw away.  I suspect that’s how several of my past christmas presents from relatives have ended up under the christmas tree.

Ultimately it ends up as landfill.

It’s just so wasteful!  And no one wants to be told to stop buying simply because shopping is such a past-time to many.  It gives some people a high that nothing else does. We like the feeling of bargaining, getting the best deal for our money and then giving our money away to someone else to enjoy.  Looking at it objectively now it almost makes no sense: if we derive so much joy from the meaningless pursuit of exchanging cash for perishable crap, why not give our money away to someone who would actually benefit from it?  Like a child-sponsor charity?  Isn’t it infinitely more satisfying to watch our money go into the provision of basic care and education to a young needy child?  But therein lies the realisation that all this spending is driven by our own selfish needs, to hoard, to get, to buy, to build up our empires of dirt.  These things that we surround ourselves with become us and define us in unholy ways.  A sale is nothing but a physical manifestation of man’s greed as the cash-rich drive our demand for consumer goods ever higher and higher.

but i digress…

For myself that’s why i love to shop when there are no sales* to compel me to buy more than i have to.  I go into a store, see what i want, I buy it.  No distractions, no desire to buy more than i need and best of all no crowds of bargain hunters to fight with for the last Medium sized t-shirt.  It’s effortless and ultimately, i believe, saves me money in the long run.

I really have to put this to a test one day to see if it’s true!

* though i will admit on more than one occasion i’ve been willing to wait for several months at time for just one DVD to drop in price before i buy it

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