A blog about spending wisely in your twenties, with advice on everything from cooking to saving money on gas; how to teach yourself to save money instead of spending it, traveling without breaking the bank, and much more.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It's Not a Bargain if You Didn't Need It!

My love for thrift shops, clearance sales, and great deals in general knows no bounds. Nearly everyone gets a kick out of getting something on sale, even if they're idiot spenders. I once got a blender for free by showing up to a Goodwill grand opening. The first 100 people in line got $10 gift cards, and the blender was $8.99. With the remaining $1.01 on the card I bought a big glass jar to store bulk-purchased rice, beans, or whathaveyou.

But that blender wasn't an impulse buy. I went to the grand opening with the intention of buying a blender. I would've bought it even if the price had been slightly over $10.

One of the biggest pitfalls for bargain shoppers is how easy it is to be blinded by a deal. If you go to Goodwill and you spend upwards of $100 on clothes or household items you didn't necessarily need, you haven't SAVED money. You've spent it. And unless that $100 went to a bigger ticket item you've been planning to purchase for a while, office attire, or another purchase that will have some serious utility- that $100 could have been much better spent. Or saved.

Thrift shops can be the most dangerous marketplace for this kind of thinking. After all, one of the best reasons to thrift shop is the treasure hunting aspect- and it can be very difficult to talk yourself out of that $50 doohickey going for $10 at Goodwill. If the price is low enough, you can convince yourself that you need anything. But after a while you've spent $10 to save $40 any number of times, but you still don't have $40! You didn't actually save $40 unless you socked $40 away in a savings account. You spent $10!

The best way I know to curb faux bargain spending is to have a specific purchase and price in mind when you go to a thrift shop or clearance sale. If you can't find an egg beater for $7.99 or new white dress heels for $5.99, don't spend any money at all. Or if you must spend money, spend it on a book, video, or other item with lasting value that generally costs very little ($.99-$2.99) secondhand. But please, if you go in planning to spend $5.99 on heels, don't spend $24.99 on an air purifier.

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