A Bargain is Not Always a Bargain
How to Find a Real Bargain
Michelle Parker Sharrow, MBA
Have you ever wreaked havoc on your budget to take advantage of a bargain? Buy two get two free or buy one get one 50% off is not a bargain when it turns your budget upside down. I’ve fallen into the bargain trap numerous times, enticed by the thought of getting vitamins, food, and even clothes at rock bottom prices
Months later, I ended up tossing the vitamins and the food because the expiration date passed. I’ve also donated many $5 and $10 pieces of clothing after coming to the realization that I really didn’t like them or need them. I could have avoided all of the extra spending by asking myself a few questions each time I decided to add an item to my shopping cart. Here are some questions for you to consider the next time you shop.
Vitamins and Other Perishables
Do you already have stockpiles of these vitamins? If there are 60 caplets and you purchase two bottles, will you use 120 caplets before the expiration date? For food, do you already have stockpiles of ketchup, cookies and potato chips? Will your family be able to eat all of these items? Will they grow tired of them? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you should pass up this offer unless you plan to donate to a food pantry or shelter.
The best way to stay on track with a clothing budget is to create a list. One of the beauties of being an adult is that most adults have wardrobes that they’ve built over time. So for the most part you should only purchase items that you need. Create a list and use it every time you shop. Also, before you purchase something ask yourself whether you would purchase it at regular price. If not, then unless you need it for a special event, you probably shouldn’t purchase it.
It’s just as easy to get carried away buying toys as it is purchasing food. Door busters and buy one get one free deals slowly eat at larger dreams of fully funding college savings plans and retirement funds. Handle toys the same way you handle clothes, with a list. If you aren’t headed to the store to shop for toys, don’t browse the aisles. Also if you need to shop for toys, do it without your kids or talk to them beforehand so that you aren’t overwhelmed and likely to give into constant nagging for toys that you aren’t on the list.
What might seem like a bargain on the surface isn’t always a bargain. If you don’t have an immediate need for something and the financial or physical capacity for it, it probably isn’t a bargain for you. Carefully consider your wants, needs and your long term goals each time you make a trip to the store. Doing so will help you keep your budget on track and reduce the extreme feeling of disappointment you’ll feel when you realize that you’re two hundred dollars over budget.
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