This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.
For anyone who is always cautious about watching their budget and not spending too much money, sale season is a blessing.
Actually, ‘sale season’ as we once knew it doesn’t really exist anymore, does it? If you go to a shop at any time of the year, there’s a good chance that something is going to be on sale. Nevertheless, with Black Friday on the — albeit distant — horizon and shops currently in the process of putting their summer stock on sale, there’s no doubt that focusing on sale-buying habits is worth discussing at this point in time. There might not be a ‘sale season’ anymore, but there’s definitely sales — and that means you’re going to need some primers to make sure you handle them as well as you can.
So if you’re in need of some reminders of how to shop sales effectively, you’re going to want to follow these do’s and don’ts – your budget is likely to thank you for it!
DO: Be Aware Of The Tricks
The above image is a perfect example of the tricks you need to be aware of when it comes to sales season. Retailers don’t run sales because they’re looking to do their customers a favor; they do it because it’s beneficial to them to do. Not only are they looking to offload their excess or out-of-season stock, but they’re still going to want to make a profit. As a result, you’re going to see an awful lot of sales techniques coming into play.
Here are a few that you need to be on your guard for:
- Short term sales. If a sale is only on for “one day only!”… well, to be frank, that’s probably a lie. Even if it is just for a single day, that doesn’t mean those items won’t go on sale again. The point of the “one day only!” idea is to create a sense of urgency in you, the customer. This means you’re more likely to snap up a bargain when you see it, rather than take time and consider whether it’s actually a good purchase.
- Barely-reduced items. Stick a red ‘on sale’ tag on something, elevate the ‘previous sold at’ price and boom — retailers are convincing a customer they’re getting a bargain, even if they’re not. Avoid this by always comparing the price of the item in other, similar stores; this should give you a good idea on whether it’s really a good deal or not.
Keep these in mind and you can be sure you’re buying what you need, not what the retailers are telling you that you need.
Okay, so this one sounds obvious. You’re smart with your finances, you’re always looking for bargains, and you stick to your household budget rigidly — of course someone like you isn’t going to overspend.
Well, that’s the idea anyway. The reality isn’t quite so enlightened. The truth is that sale season tends to send us all off the rails, inspired by the idea of bargains and making the money we have go as far as possible. That means that we can convince ourselves of the benefits of buying now, telling ourselves we’re actually saving money that we otherwise would have had to spend anyway!
That kind of thinking — seductive though it is — is going to get you in trouble very, very quickly. Before you know it, you’ll have blown the budget and need to be in touch with companies like Personal Loan Offers just to get you through the rest of the month. While taking advantage of sales and discounts is a vital part of financial management, and should be encouraged, don’t go so far that you actually cost yourself more than you have available to spend.
DO: Visit Your Usual Stores First
If you hear that a company you don’t usually frequent is having a sale, what’s your first reaction? Chances are, you’re drawn to it. Sure, you might not have much experience of that particular retailer — but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to dive right on into a bargain that’s right in front of your eyes.
However, it’s important to bear in mind that there’s probably a reason you don’t visit that retailer often. That reason is most likely to be that the store doesn’t really have anything to offer you. That means that you’re going there just looking for a bargain, and probably on products that you don’t actually want or need.
That’s why you should always visit stores that you tend to frequent anyway when it comes to sale season. It’s clear you have an affinity for that retailer, they have something to offer you, and what you have bought there is useful to your life. Go to these familiar retailers first, otherwise you risk blowing your budget on items you don’t want from stores you would normally never contemplate visiting.
DON’T: Shop For “Next Year”
Hang on — isn’t this breaking one of the fundamental rules of sales shopping?
To an extent, yes it is, but bear with it. The idea that you should shop out of season, when items are cheaper, and then stash the items for the next year — well, it’s a classic. Go pull up half of the guides to making the most of your money and they’ll involve some mention of it.
While this technique can work — buying Christmas-related decor in the January sales is always a good idea — for the most part, it’s a false economy. Say you go out right now and buy all of your summer clothes for next year, storing them for the next eight months.
When you get to next year, do you think you’re going to be excited by last season’s clothes? Or do you think you’re going to be surrounded by advertising for new lines from stores, and find yourself wanting to buy those as well? If you follow this well-established and oft-mentioned tip, you can find yourself paying twice for summer clothes; once in the previous autumn, and then again the next summer.
It’s fine if you want to buy basics, such as shirts and jeans, items that are always going to buy useful. However, for the most part, avoid buying something very on-trend — because next year, it’s not going to be on trend, and you’re going to end up spending additional money anyway.
DO: Buy The Next Size(s) Up In Kids Clothes
Sales shopping for kids clothes is always tough; there tends to have been many other eager bargain-hunting Moms who got there before you.
However, there’s no harm in buying something that doesn’t fit your children right now, but which they will grow into. As with the tip above, try and stick to basics that are always going to look current and cute. Things like raincoats, boots, simple shirts, dresses; all are good buys in the next size up.
Why is this a good idea but buying clothes for yourself isn’t? Because kids grow out of their clothes incredibly quickly. You’re always going to need more clothes for them, especially if your kids like to get dirty and tend to be rough on their clothes. So having a stockpile bought at a significantly reduced price is always going to have its benefits to your budget.
DON’T: Buy For A Life You Don’t Have
This is a good rule for general shopping, but it’s worth bearing in mind particularly when you’re sales shopping.
So what does it mean? Basically, you have to buy for the life and circumstances you do have. Let’s say you see a gorgeous evening gown that you love and is massively reduced in price, well within your budget. Pretty tempting, right? Except for the fact that… you don’t tend to have a lot of reasons to wear an evening gown.
At this point, many people let their head overrule their heart. “If I ever do need an evening gown,” they try to reason, “then I’ll already have one, and one I have got at a bargain price as well! It’s saving money, really.”
The thing is, if you can’t think of a specific event at which you might wear that evening gown, then you’re really just wasting money. It’s better to keep your cash and, if you do suddenly need to find an evening gown, enjoy shopping for said gown in the moment.
This reality applies to all of your shopping. Don’t buy homewares for the big house you one day want; buy homewares for the house you have. Don’t buy nursery items for the baby you’re thinking of having; buy clothes and gifts for the children you already have in your life. And the big one: don’t buy clothes for the you who has lost weight; buy clothes for the you as you are at the time of the transaction. Sticking to this rule is far healthier financially, and mentally as well.
Shopping the sales can be one of the most delightful things that you do, provided you do it right. By following the above rules and sticking to them resolutely, you can be sure that you get bargains on the items you truly want and need. While you might need to bolster your willpower to resist all those “great bargains” you can’t seem to live without, managing to do so will give you an even greater sense of satisfaction than the items themselves ever could.