How do you spot the real bargains and avoid buying things you will later regret?
The human brain is very good at processing lots of information fast by grabbing hold of important facts early on and letting them dominate decisions. That was perfect when we were out hunting for food and living in caves, but in a shopping mall or online it can go badly wrong!
Lots of shouty Sale signs and money off promises…
it’s crowded with lots of people searching the shelves and racks…
friends have been talking about what they hope to get…
timers counting down to when discounts end…
these all add up to pressure to buy now.
Here are seven reasons why you should look hard at those tempting Sale! stickers before deciding to buy.
1) It was never worth the original price
Your mind sees 60% OFF signs in bright colours and large letters and switches into a quick, grab that deal before it’s gone mode. But don’t be fooled by all the loud sales signs into thinking this is a great deal.
That shirt has been reduced from £55. Really? Do you think they would have sold any at that price? If the answer is No, then £19.99 isn’t a real bargain at all, it’s just no longer stupidly over-priced.
2) It’s cheaper online
Get out your phone out and check the online price. Don’t forget that you might be able to get cashback from Quidco or Topcashback if you shop online.
If it’s an electrical item, it’s often not easy to compare prices as the model numbers multiply. So focus on what you actually want. The MC5001x toaster is on special offer but it’s still more than the MD5000 toaster online. Would the toast really be any different?
3) Ignore countdowns
The Advertising Standards Authority is trying to crack down on countdown to end-of-sale clocks that are misleading. A Watchdog report found:
Between August and November 2018, Watchdog Live recorded 14 sales advertised on Boohoo’s site with a countdown clock. But after the clocks on the sale reached zero, they were reset and the offers continued.
Just because the sale may be ending doesn’t mean that this is a great buy. Take a moment to think if you really need this and then check if you can find a better price or a better alternative elsewhere.
4) You don’t need it
So it really is cheap… but if you don’t need it there may be something better to spend your money on.
You don’t see council tax or car insurance or water bills offering money off in the shops.
Think of previous sale purchases – jeans that were half price but not a great fit, that coat which isn’t either waterproof or warm, a dress that never seems right to select from your wardrobe. Buy those and they will only be worn a few times. Think cost-per-wear and decide it’s actually expensive, not a bargain at all.
5) It’s a special purchase
I had the following conversation in a sale a couple of years ago:
Me: “Is the 1200 pocket special mattress in the sale the same as the 1200 pocket in the shop last month?”
Sales assistant: “No, it’s going to feel firmer as there is one cotton layer less.”
Now I might be happy to pay a bit less for that. But that bargain wasn’t as cheap as it first appeared. And if I had just assumed they were the same, I could have bought a mattress that wasn’t right for me.
6) You pay more because it’s “cheap”
You need a new tumble drier, you have £300 to spend and the one you wanted is reduced to £260 – more than 10% less – result!
Except there is another model with six extra cycles which is reduced from £500 to £350… saving a massive amount.
But you were never going to pay £500 for a tumble drier so this saving is an illusion. Don’t pay more for extra features that you will probably never use!
7) It’s going on credit
Unless you repay the balance on your credit card in full each month, the interest really adds up. If you often only pay the minimum, you’ll still be paying for those shoes in 10 or 15 years time, long after they have been thrown away, and you will have paid much more than the full price was.
It’s all too easy to overspend on a credit card, especially if it’s contactless. Why not decide how much you are prepared to spend in the Sales and take that out in cash? It can be much harder to hand over real money for an item you aren’t 100% sure about, you will be more inclined to shop around a bit more and see if you can’t find something better.
Buy Now Pay Later deals can be a real trap. A year’s interest-free credit sounds like a great deal, but if you are just a day late paying at the end of the year, you get hit with a large interest bill immediately as it’s backdated to when you bought it!
This applies to those tempting Klarna try-before-you-buy offers online. You order 6 jumpers intending to return 5, but you love three of them – you have now spent more than you wanted to.
Get what you need at a good price
Everybody loves a bargain. If you remember the points here, you may be able to bag a few real ones this week. Good luck!