Spaving – The Road to Ruin is “Spaved” With Good Intentions

paved in gold

Spave (SPAYV) v. Spending money in order to save money by purchasing items at less than their retail cost. Spaver n.

Spaving means “spending to save.” In other words, you’re spending money now in order to save money in the future. This may be by buying needed items on sale, using a coupon, or submitting a rebate. You may not need the item right this instant, buy you buy it because you can get it cheaper now than when you’ll need it.

Generally, I’m all for spaving. If I can save $2.00 on shampoo if I buy it today I’ll do it, even though I might not need it for a few more weeks. If I know my kid wants a certain toy for Christmas and I see a deal on it in July, I’ll buy it and put it away. The danger comes when people spave on things they don’t need, can’t afford, or that are of poor quality (or all three), just to say they “saved” money.

Spaving happens all year, but it gets worse during the holidays as the lure of the “bargain” tempts people to buy things they don’t need and can’t afford, just because it’s such a great deal. Look at Black Friday. How much of the shopping done that day is because the items are truly needed for gifts or holiday preparations and how much is done to get in on the deals? Spavers get all excited about “saving” money on Christmas decorations, for example, that they have no room or use for but doggone it, they saved money by buying them on sale! Wouldn’t they have been better off not buying them at all and “saving” the money in a high interest account?

I know two people who have just about spaved themselves into financial ruin. Neither can resist a sale price, even if it’s something that they don’t need or particularly want. They say, “Oh, but it’s such a great deal, I know I can find someone to give it to.” Or, “Well, I don’t need it now, but maybe someday.” Someday they’ll entertain more, or cook more, or craft more, or lose twenty pounds and fit into those pants. These spavers are constantly telling anyone who’ll listen how broke they are, how they don’t have money saved for retirement or the kid’s college, and how they don’t have money for the bills this month. They have no money to spare yet, every week, they are reading the sale flyers and trawling the clearance racks at Target looking for a deal on something, convinced they are saving money by buying items on sale. They have huge stockpiles of stuff, representing thousands of dollars, for use “someday” sitting unused in their houses. If they hadn’t bought all that stuff, convinced it was a great deal, those thousands of dollars would be available to pay the bills. They’ve spaved their future right down the drain.

So when does spaving cost you more than it saves? The first indicator that spaving might not be saving you money is if the deal is on something you don’t have a specific purpose for. If you’re not buying it to fill a need, or with a specific recipient and/or occasion in mind, you’re probably better off leaving the item until you can come up with a definitive purpose for it. By the time you decide to take up cooking or crafting, or the kid is old enough to wear that shirt, or there’s a birthday party where a kid wants a particular toy, the item will probably be obsolete and there will be deals on better, newer items. Keep your money until then. Most things bought because they will be needed “someday” are dumped in a spare closet somewhere and only discovered when it’s yard sale time.

Spaving is not saving you money if you can’t afford the item at any price, particularly when the item is a “want.” If you can’t pay your bills or are deeply in debt, then 50% off a television for the addition you plan to build someday is still not a good deal. That TV would only be a good deal if they gave it to you. You need to take care of your needs first, then you can look for deals on the things you want. Spaving only works when you can afford to put your money towards “extra” items, whether they’re wants or needs. If you can’t afford your mortgage, you don’t need to be buying anything beyond the bare minimum necessary to get by until you’re on sounder financial footing.

Spaving doesn’t work if you can’t afford to tie your money up in things you can’t use immediately. If you have a small or unpredictable income, you are likely to need ready cash more than deals. This means you shouldn’t have a lot of money tied up in gifts for occasions that are six months away, clothes that can’t be worn until next summer, or fifty packs of toilet paper. Even it’s a great deal, you need to wait and look for deals closer to when you actually need an item and resist tying up money in future needs and wants. Liquid cash is more important than a stockpile of gifts for people you haven’t even met yet.

Spaving can save you money if you spave wisely, or it can ruin you. If you can afford to buy items on sale, ahead of your needs, you can dodge some price increases and get good deals on the items you use. You can keep a stockpile of items bought at reduced prices to get you through an emergency or to give as last minute gifts. You’ll buy less at full retail price because you have planned ahead wisely and spent money to save money when it made the most sense. Awareness of your true financial picture, how much money you have available to spend on future needs, and a clear idea of those future needs, are the keys to spaving wisely and well.

Image courtesy of Auntie P

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3 Responses to Spaving – The Road to Ruin is “Spaved” With Good Intentions

  1. Tim says:

    This year I spaved several times. I purchased 2 Entertainment book originally for the 5% AA tickets deal, gift cards at 20% discount to locations I frequent weekly, and items on sale that I knew I would be replace in the near future (3 months).

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