Leaving the Sale Behind

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I am a sucker for sales. I’m the kind of person that will buy something that is deeply discounted even though I don’t really need it. I’ve come to realize that no matter how good of a deal it is, it’s not a deal for me if I don’t need it. However, that knowledge does not make it easier for me to walk away from an item that’s on sale. I don’t have a problem walking away from an item of clothing I’ll never wear or an item I’ll never use, but the hesitation lies with something I would wear or use, but don’t need right now. Or even worse, it’s something similar to what I want, but not exactly what I was looking for. Either it doesn’t fit right or it doesn’t have a feature that I was looking for.

I had this experience recently at a store and I had to wrestle with the sale lover in me to not buy what I didn’t need. Upon walking in the door, I was given a coupon for $3 off any clearance apparel item of $5 or more. Immediately I thought about the possibility of getting something for $2. So I headed straight for the clothing section. Mind you, I was not there to shop for clothing, but rather only to pick up prescription. I found the clearance racks and began going through them. I found a really nice brown quilted jacket for only $7 — or $4 with my coupon.

I tried it on because I actually need a brown jacket. It was a medium, but it was too big. I wasn’t swimming in it, but it wasn’t very flattering. I tried rationalizing to myself that it was only $4 and that I needed a brown jacket. But when I looked at myself wearing it in the mirror, I wasn’t extremely happy with the way it looked and I began thinking about the 5 or so jackets I currently have in my closet that I always pass by when I’m choosing a coat to wear because I don’t like the way they look on me. I realized that I really didn’t want any more clutter in that closet and I knew that if I bought this coat, it would join the ranks of those other 5 coats. But it’s only $4!

Have you ever found yourself in this same argument with yourself? I have many times and this time I was able to walk away from a purchase that wasn’t smart because I’ve learned a few things along the way to help me do just that. Here are some suggestions to help you walk away from a great deal that you don’t really need or that isn’t in the budget right now (which was the case for me).

Stay on track: My first mistake on this recent shopping trip was to let myself get veered away from what I actually came into the store for. I admit that I am a wanderer when I go to any store. My husband gets frustrated at me sometimes because he likes to go into a store, get exactly what he needs and leave. I, on the other hand, like to browse through everything the store carries, just to see.

This is how I pick up extra items I don’t need. When I am being very disciplined, I don’t even go into areas of the store when I don’t need anything from there. This helps eliminate the temptation to buy things because you don’t even see that they are there. Sometime I think it would be helpful for me to have a pair of those blinders that horses wear when they are giving people rides on a busy street — the ones that only let the horses look ahead and not to the side in order to keep them focused on where they are going and not get distracted by the things around them.

Think rational: I was actually proud of myself for realizing that that coat would end up in the back of my closet like the others because I really didn’t like the way it fit. I tried to talk myself into buying it because of the low price, but I knew it wasn’t smart. When you stop and really think about whether you need or want the item you are looking at, it can help you realize when it’s not the smartest decision. Luckily I thought beyond the price and actually mentally placed the item in my possession at home and saw how it wouldn’t be a rational choice after all.

Ask someone else’s opinion: Even though my husband doesn’t necessarily enjoy shopping with me because of my browsing habits, I always enjoy having him with me because he gives me needed input. If I find a piece of clothing on sale and try it on and it doesn’t look flattering on me, my husband will be honest and tell me when I ask him. He does it in a nice way and I don’t get mad at him for it because I appreciate the fact that he’s honest and will help keep me from buying something that simply doesn’t look good on me. In the past when he’s not been with me when I’m shopping, I’ve purchased certain clothes, taken them home and tried them on for him and have ended up taking them back because they didn’t look the greatest on me.

It can help a lot to have someone you trust with you when you shop and be able to ask for their opinion on whether or not they think you should buy what you’re looking at. It’s very helpful when it’s someone who knows you well. My husband can easily tell me that I already own a shirt that looks exactly like the one I’m thinking of purchasing. Oops!

Leave it and come back: It can be so hard to think rationally in the moment. Sometimes you can help yourself think clearly by setting the item down and leaving the store to think about the purchase telling yourself you can come back and buy it if you really want it. This is the hardest part, but most often it is what will keep you from buying the item. You have to REALLY want that item to go through all the trouble of going back to the store to buy it once you’ve left. If thats the case, great. You realize that you really wanted that item and that it’s worth the money to you. If you decide it’s not worth it, you just saved yourself an unnecessary purchase. The thing about impulse shopping is that it’s so easy to buy something when you are already there and will be standing in line anyhow. But when you have to make an extra trip to that store and stand in line again, it becomes a different story.

So I’m proud of myself for walking away from that jacket that I didn’t need. However, I’m not going to pretend that I got out of that store without buying any clothes. I went into the dressing room with 4 articles of clothing and only ended up buying 2. I ended up buying a shirt that cost $3 that I knew I could wear to work paired with a couple different outfits and a down snowboarding coat for $10. These happen to be good deals on two things I know I would wear and I liked how they fit. So I still impulse shopped and I’m still working on that habit, but I at least give myself kudos for leaving half of the items behind.

Image courtesy of Cosmic Kitty

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3 Responses to Leaving the Sale Behind

  1. Miranda says:

    I’ll bet plenty of people have had this experience. 30% of our purchases are impulse buys. It can be hard to resist the impulses because we’re raised to look for deals. But, as my mom once said, “Spending money is spending money. It doesn’t matter if it’s a ‘good deal.'”

  2. Hilary says:

    I struggle with this all the time (who doesn’t, right?). The worst for me are the times when I do walk away, and then I totally regret it. I still remember this wonderful goat’s milk soap that was on clearance for $1 a bar, and I only bought two bars (when there were like 10 available). I haven’t found it since…

    But now, when I find something on clearance, I recall the soap and think “Oh, it’ll be like that soap and I’ll regret not buying the entire stock!” Then I walk away with waaay too much of what I don’t really need. I have like four Burt’s Bees lotions on my shelf just waiting to be used unenthusiastically by me because they were 50% off.

    The struggles continue…

  3. tehnyit says:

    One way that I have tried, with various degree of success, is to make it difficult for me to pay for it. Eg, carry no cash or card with me when I go to the shops. My wife carries all the cash or the cards.

    It kinda work until I went to the shop by myself.

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