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If You Don’t Need It, It’s Not A Bargain At All.

I don’t know about you, but I am getting kind of tired of watching the news and seeing consumer segments encouraging us to shop just because there are some deals out there. Between the Christmas season starting in mid-November, Black Friday, Black Monday, Black Friday 2 and now these “pundits” still trying to get us to part with our hard-earned money, I am a little burnt out on the “buy this stuff because it is on sale” mantra. If you don’t need something, it doesn’t matter how much it costs – you don’t need to spend the money for it!

Too many people fall for the “gee, that TV is on sale for 10% less than it ever was before – we should go get one before they are all gone” routine…even if they don’t need said TV. If you or your family does not need whatever a store is selling, it is not a bargain – it is an expense. An expense that could reduce the amount of money you have to spend (or even save) on something important. Would you go buy a new car just because it was on sale? The higher the price tag the more difficult it becomes to rationalize the purchase – but those smaller amounts add up.

Retailers have it hard this season, but I don’t feel that bad for them – I mean, do we really need multiple upon multiple versions of the same store, sitting in the same mall, in every city around the country? Same stores, different names. Best Buy and Circuit City. Bed Bath and Beyond & Linens and Things. Add in the department stores and local stores that sell the same items, and it’s really no wonder that some of these stores are going to go under in 2009 – our insipid shopping habits for the last X amount of years is coming back to haunt both us and the stores themselves. We were able to support all of them at once because we just could not stop shopping, but now many people are unable to keep up with that behavior – there is less money for “extra” things. But that doesn’t stop everyone, obviously, as we are continually being marketed to about how these “sales” are going to save us a ton of money. And sure, they might… but only if you need what you are buying. This is not the time to be buying just for the sake of buying, but rather the time to have an emergency fund, to pay off existing debts, and to watch your money closely. This economy won’t allow for big mistakes, as you could find yourself unemployed or with an empty bank account at any time. Don’t let shopping for bargains be your downfall – buy what you need when you need it, and try to avoid being sucked into the “sale” mentality. If you don’t need it, it’s not a bargain at all.

Have you found yourself falling for this ruse? I know I did when I saw a TV on sale for what seemed like mere pennies. But then I remembered that the TV we have works fine, and I definitely didn’t need a new one!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Adam (adamjinj)

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Comments (27)

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  1. [...] If You Don’t Need It, It’s Not A Bargain At All. I don’t know about you, but I am getting kind of tired of watching the news and seeing consumer segments encouraging us to go shopping just because there are some deals out there. My Two Dollars blog post [...]

  2. Nicki says:

    For this reason alone I had to tell my husband NOT to let me even walk into a couple stores when we were Christmas shopping. I’m a sucker for buying a “great deal” for my daughter. I’m proud to say .. it worked. We didn’t overdo, but it’s because I stayed out of the store!

  3. I could not agree more.

    And I cannot stand advertising that aims to tell people that by SPENDING they are SAVING. Ha! Us Americans can be so easy to fool.

  4. This is probably the single best money-saving idea to wrap one’s head around. It took a little while before the concept really “clicked” in my mind. But once it did, there was really no going back. And it progressed from being a just a shield that made me impervious to advertising. The attitude crept into a lot of my routine purchasing at the grocery store and other places too. Once you begin to really ask yourself whether you need something before you spend money on it, you’re well on the road to blackbelt frugality.

    At this point, marketing has approximately zero chance of working on me. I decide – without input from anyone but my husband – what we will buy, and don’t buy anything else.

  5. Studenomics says:

    Yes this is exactly how I feel and in fact I lose my mind sometimes when my girlfriend tells me about how I should buy something just because it’s on sale. This makes absolutely no sense because if you need something then you buy it, not because it costs less than before.

  6. claire says:

    The irony is that, for all the televised ads and discourse about “these tough economic times,” I have not seen *any* tangible deals to be had in my area, even on items I know I will need later this year. For the first time ever, I was planning to go out on black Friday to score a deal on these items. I walked away empty-handed: all the holiday sales from black Friday to the present have been a joke–it’s like business as usual and a measley 5% off the overpriced items. Perhaps this is only true in my area, but I wonder how many retailers are depending soley on “bad news” and media talk of nationwide “sales” to lure customers into believing that they’re actually getting a deal.

  7. Craig says:

    That’s so true. So many people go shopping just because items are on sale. But if you had no intention of getting the items in the first place, you don’t need it.

  8. The theory that you can spend to save is true, and I took a look at one specific example on my blog today, but the point is that there are specific instances when this is a viable argument. It has nothing to do with consumer electronics or gadgets, but it does hold true on services that can improve the performance of and extend the life of expensive items such as household appliances and cars. Spending on preventative maintenance is certainly a way to save in the future by spending now. Considering something to be a bargain is relative, since each person has their own standards, but if you do have a need (or even a want for something and can afford it) then finding at at a bargain is just a bonus. I do have to disagree that this isn’t a time to be spending, because not everyone is being as negatively affected by the economy as some are. Each person simply needs to assess their own financial position and do what is best for them.

  9. david says:

    “if you do have a need”

    That was my point exactly. If you don’t need something, then paying even $.50 for it is spending money you didn’t need to spend. And as lucky as you must be to not be impacted by the economic downturn, most people are being affected and are pulling in the reigns – while TV and Radio want us to continue to buy, buy, buy even so.

  10. Believe me, David I’ve certainly been affected, and a lot harder than I thought I would be at that. Even still, I think it is something that needed to happen to wake people up to the reality that they were being irresponsible with their money. Do I wish that people didn’t have to lose their houses or life savings? Of course, but on the other hand if people learn from all of this and adjust their habits, I think it will be beneficial in the long run. The problem is that businesses survive and grow based on consumer spending, so they have to try to get people go spend with them. It may not be the most opportune time to push sales, but then again if businesses continue to fail, it will perpetuate the cycle since more people will be out of work, etc. etc.

  11. Slinky says:

    Oh my goodness, yes! I’m so tired of hearing people that ‘saved’ $150….because they got whatever percent off of their $600 tab. You didn’t save $150! You spent $450!!!! ARgh!

  12. [...] If You Don’t Need It, It’s Not A Bargain At All [...]

  13. [...] the other day when I mentioned that if you don’t need something, it’s not a bargain at all? Well, I have needed a new winter coat for, oh, months now – but I was not willing to spend a [...]

  14. This is SO true!! I try to avoid shopping unless it’s necessary!

  15. I am trying my best to avoid shopping, but my kids and wife seem to have different ideas in their minds so, no respite for my pocket!

  16. rosemarie says:

    Ohmigod, how true this is. I can’t tell you how many times my mom buys things just because they were “on sale.” And I reply, but if you don’t need them, then it’s a waste of money. “But they’re on sale.” It’s a never ending circle.

  17. Travis @ CMM says:

    Not only did I struggle with all the bargains around the holidays. My wife and I probably bought more for ourselves than we usually would just because we were getting good deals. The better deal would’ve been to save that money and pay off some of our debt. I think we’ve learned our lesson, and we’ve gone back into no spending mode.

  18. David says:

    Its a tough battle Travis, I understand!

  19. [...] My Two Dollars says If You Don’t Need It, It’s Not A Bargain At All. [...]

  20. [...] My Two Dollars says If You Don’t Need It, It’s Not A Bargain At All. [...]

  21. Urban Frugal says:

    It is only a bargain if you can keep the money in your pocket.

    If you can get a deal on something that you really wanted or desperately needed, then it is a bargain.

    Otherwise, if this bargain is not affordable, just walk on by! Sometimes SALE is a four-letter, pejorative term!

  22. [...] If You Don’t Need It, It’s Not A Bargain At All. @ My Two Dollars [...]

  23. Daniel Wayne Johnston says:

    I understand the point of being frugal, but recognize that capitalistic competition is not the enemy here. I’m sure you and Karl Marx would have gotten along great. What’s the _deal_ with all these competing institutions honestly? The people have needs and those needs can be met in centralized locations. No need for competition or free market processes. From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs. That does sound awesome doesn’t it! Honestly, bad businesses should fail, but failure of corporations does not mean a similar, yet obviously financially stronger solution should not arise. Prices send signals in a macro-economic story. These sales are necessary, and at some point they are actually are the better purchases after doing a opportunity cost analysis. Don’t undermine the entire system of free markets and America’s capitalistic economy, and more so please never get into politics. Your policies are just the kind that are just crazy enough to get passed into law.

  24. david says:

    You are right. We should just spend our money on crap we don’t need. Now THAT is the American way!

  25. Daniel Wayne Johnston says:

    Plus there are secondary markets. When circuit city closed down you could get a PS3 for under 200 bucks. Not a necessary purchase, but the value of resale is high enough that it is worth it to buy now, and craigslist/ebay later.

  26. [...] @ My Two Dollars wrote a post titled “If You Don’t Need It, It’s Not a Bargain At All“. From this headline alone, readers will have a pretty good idea about what this post is [...]

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