It may seem like a no-brainer to keep going when you come across an item you don’t need (or don’t even want), but a staggering amount of sales happen for no logical reason or reason. Sometimes the most preposterous offers seem like the most logical purchases: why would someone leave “Buy 2, Get 3 Free” out of anything, right?!
Wrong. Advertisers and marketers are masters of using human psychology to take advantage of bargain-hunting consumers looking for a good deal — regardless of whether the purchase is a good deal. for them.
So, let’s sharpen our sales sense by going over some rules of thumb when it comes to optimized buying.
Things are never great deals
Items you don’t need.
Of course, if you don’t have kids, that 100-pack of diaper bundles likely won’t tempt you to fork out the cash. However, there are more subtle, non-essential things that may reach you.
If you live in a warm climate — think California and southern states like Florida — where it’s rarely cold enough to require layers, resist the urge to stock up on winter clothes whenever a sale is on. Sure, buy a nice coat and some jeans, but then keep going when you see offers for some tweed sweaters and turtlenecks.
Items that you will not use.
This includes things you won’t use before their expiration date (like perishable items) and things you won’t use because it’s not in your nature to use them.
Obviously, if you’re lactose intolerant, you’re not going to hoard 3 gallons of milk for the price of one. However, something as useful as vitamins might catch your eye, and that’s usually a good thing! Be wary of the 5,000 pill bottles selling for as low as $100 if you’ve never taken them before. For things like this, start on a smaller scale and only work your way up to full size when you have developed a consistent habit of doing something every day.
Items in Super-Bulk.
Yes, buying items in bulk can save your boatload in the long run. At the same time, optimized purchases packed in ridiculous amounts are one of the easiest ways to throw your hard-earned cash out the window.
You might have one kid, maybe even two or three of them, but what entire class of kids uses 1000’s of Play-Doh packets before they run dry? Along those lines, do you really need 500 blank CD-RWs? Unless you open a recording studio, half of that amount will probably last you a lifetime.
New electronics and expensive office equipment.
While we’re on the subject of technology, it’s best to stay away from new prototypes and warm up to the electronics of the factory conveyor belt. They’ll eventually get sold and/or the company will come out with a newer version that has worked out all the kinks before you’ve even had a chance to get to know all of those great bells and whistles (which almost always come with glitches).
Cheap inkjet printers that use too much ink is another good thing to avoid in general. While you can get ink cartridges and refill them repeatedly for about $15 a pop, if you have to do it every 50 sheets of paper, there’s an underlying problem. A better solution, especially if you mostly use black ink (you don’t print in color very often), might be to buy a good quality laser printer.
Super Huge Items.
If you have space to store tons of paper products – paper towels, toilet paper, etc. – it is a good idea to buy in bulk. Otherwise, please don’t sacrifice functional space that has to be used in completely unrelated ways: oven for cooking, shower for bathing…you get the idea.
Even if things aren’t very big, buying too many “stuff” takes up too much space in your home, garage, and storage space in general.
Basic Best Practices
Whether you ultimately decide to buy or pass, there are some financial foundations to consider that can help make your decision easier:
- Always buy within your means. Whether you pay with cash, a debit card or a credit card that you pay off monthly, only buy what you can afford at the time. Never go into debt to buy something.
- Only buy what you can easily store. If you need to rent a storage unit so you can store at TP, that sale is probably something you have to walk the supermarket aisle for.
- If you have a certain expensive item/brand name that you believe in, pay close attention to it when it goes on sale. At that point, if you have been patient and avoided paying more for them, you can make sure you get the go-ahead when a manufacturer or dealer works together and offers them at a more reasonable price.
What are some of the worst purchases you’ve ever seen? Are you having a hard time leaving even though you know you have to?