Every now and then, many of us like to bargain hunt. Sometimes, when presented with an opportunity to buy something for a really low price, the temptation to buy can be overwhelming. Even if we don’t truly need the item, or it’s not a smart purchase overall, we jump all over it.
Yep, the allure of getting a deal can sometimes get the better of us!
I saw this in practice at the grocery store recently, where some guy was getting caught up in buying clearance items in the frozen foods section. Yes, it was food that was actually marked down big time.
In this case, there was a “clearance” area where an entire freezer section was devoted to items that the store had at very reduced prices. Taking a closer look, there were some frozen meals that were on sale for as little as 50 cents! In this day and age, one could apparently buy a meal for that little money.
So this guy was loading up his grocery cart with these meals. There must have been at least 20 in his cart, and he just had this look of excitement about him. I could tell he was thinking something along the lines of “WOW! I’m probably saving $1 per meal right here, and I could eat 3 meals for the price of one at these bargain prices. I’ve got to buy as many as I can…this is awesome!”
Frankly, I can totally appreciate that thinking. There is something exciting about getting a great deal, and it’s a first-reaction weakness that I have had at times too.
But the thing is, I’ve learned that deals are better when they are involving things that you actually want to buy and would otherwise normally buy.
For example, many of those frozen meals are not the most nutritious of items, and quite often have sodium levels that greatly exceed what would be found in more freshly prepared food at home. Not to mention other aspects of the nutritional profile. You can’t get something for nothing!
So, would this guy ordinarily buy these meals, and he was just saving on something he would normally buy? Or, would he normally shop for something different (and healthier), but simply became captivated by the deals he saw at the store?
Who knows, but I’m guessing that there was a little bit of infatuation he had by the extreme deals. At that price, people can be persuaded to buy something they don’t need, or maybe even something that isn’t a good choice. All in the name of scoring a deal.
I’m certainly not perfect, and have made those decisions too. Been there, done that. But this was a good reminder that we should always stop and think before getting caught up in purchasing something just because it’s at a deep discount.
We can ask questions such as:
- Would I normally buy this?
- If not, is it a really sensible substitute for something I normally buy?
- Will I actually use this, or is it something I’m only buying because it’s at deep discount?
- Is this something that will actually benefit me?
This can apply to a variety of situations, beyond just the food example. Perhaps it could involve a new pair of shoes that look nice and are on sale. They may look nice, but at some point we have to ask ourselves how many shoes do we need? It can also apply to clothing, technology, an upscale car (here is an example of someone rationalizing buying an expensive car), and many other things.
If the potential purchase is a great deal but doesn’t really fit with the above questions, then it’s incremental spending. Then, the deal actually turns into money that could have been used for paying down debt, saving for retirement, or even progressing toward financial freedom.
Okay, maybe I’m getting a bit dramatic with the opportunity costs. But the bottom line is that spending money on things that are a great deal may or may not be worth it, and it just might be good to pause and ask ourselves a few questions first before parting with our hard-earned money!
My Questions for You
Do you ever get tempted to buy things because they’re on sale, or seem like a great deal?
How do you manage the temptation to buy in these situations?