We all have to admit it: we love a great bargain and sale! And why not? We save money and we get something we really want (and hopefully really need) at what we know is a good price. Well, that’s subject to some scrutiny, but the big news is this: if you are buying something that isn’t “on sale”, you’d better have a pretty good reason as to why.
Sale shopping and pricing has become so prevalent and common that there is now a cardinal rule in place about it. But believe it or not, some folks just shop without planning and thought, and that is costing them a small fortune in missed opportunities!
Remember, a huge way to actually have more money is to save more money when you shop. So save it by shopping the sales.
It is pretty clear. There are just some things that you should never, ever, ever buy if they are not on sale!
When Are Sales?
Is that a trick question or does it qualify as a question in the category of “stupid answers” on Jeopardy? The answer is obvious: sales are price reductions and they happen every single day of the year and sometimes even more frequently! Ok, that last remark was sarcastic, but sales are now so frequent that they are literally daily for many items and retailers.
I think I can speak as an expert on this topic since I spent decades in the retail business. I worked on and crafted thousands of sales events and tens of thousands of sale items for them.
We all know about the big sales, the ones for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Memorial Day, etc., but there are also all of the made up ones that only actually exist for the sole purpose of tempting you to come on in and buy, buy, buy! In fact, if you are shopping and buying things that aren’t on sale, you are probably getting fleeced and missing out on a bargain that you could have and should have gotten!
But here’s another thing to think about: You could be getting fleeced even if you buy it “on sale”.
There is a warning when you shop and you seek out the sale items. First, a sale is a very confusing term in itself.
All items for purchase have a free market price that is established by the retailer and sometimes suggested by the manufacturer. In all cases though, its retail price starts out as being based on the cost that a retailer has to pay for it and its own profit margins deemed necessary to make a profit.
In other words, the retailer makes up a price and establishes it and then decides when to lower or mark the price down to a “sale” price. There is no way for you to know the details behind of all of this and that’s why you need to comparison shop if you can find the identical item at different retailers to compare prices.
Comparison shopping is a requirement if you want to be sure you have gotten a real bargain!
What’s With All of the “Percentage Off” Deals?
This one is the ultimate trap that you can fall in when shopping for deals. If you see signs like 40%, 50%, or 75% off on merchandise, you must ask yourself off of what? Those signs are discounts on prices that the stores have made up!
The same item you see at store #1 for 50% off can be less expensive at store #2 at 25% off. The price you will pay for the item is what matters and not the percentage off of the regular price. There are no regular prices because those prices are literally made up. The only thing that keeps any sanity in this entire matter is competition.
When you check the competitive pricing, most of the time you will find comparable prices. That’s a green flag for you to feel comfortable that you are getting a good deal when you make the purchase. If the regular prices do not compare well with each other, consider that a red flag!
Is Everything Going to Be On Sale and If So, When?
That question is a big one, isn’t it? When you go shopping to get the best price, you want to know if it’s on sale now or exactly when it will be. The answer is this: Who actually knows?
Store executives work on a promotional calendar a full year in advance. They decide broadly what they will advertise, promote, reduce, and clear out of inventory well in advance of when you walk through the front door…most of the time.
On occasion though, some items are marked down and sold off that are not planned well in advance and may actually be a spur-of-the-moment decision for many reasons. So to revise my original answer, any item can be on sale any way, day or time under the right circumstances. Sometimes you may just be lucky and stumble upon it.
Can You Get a Sale Price Just by Asking for It?
Believe it or not, the answer is sometimes yes! Look, in some places around the world, cultural behavior is to bargain on every item sold. That practice may have been creeping into our culture over the years too, but when it comes to asking for a better price or negotiating, some items make it easier to do than others. Usually, those items are expensive ones where there is more wiggle room for a retailer to use if they want to sell something.
Think of it this way: If you own a home and want to sell it, you will post an asking price for it. That’s a price you’d like to sell it for, but if you see it sitting there for weeks and weeks, you may be willing to negotiate and reduce the price to sell it. That’s the same way that certain retailers think too.
The one item that falls right in line with that thinking is when you buy a new car.
Number One on My List to Never Ever Buy If It’s Not On Sale Is a Car
First of all, if you watch television even for an hour a day, you will see car commercials featuring discounts, rebates, sales, and all kinds of incentives to get you to buy every name brand car that exists. That sale that lasts only until June 30th quickly becomes a new sale that begins July 1st!
If you are in the market for a new car, you head down to a dealer (or you shop online) and at some point you see prices and begin negotiating. If you wanted to buy, would you even consider paying full price for the car? Of course not. You’d want to negotiate every aspect of it from the dealer and save every penny off you could get. When you are spending $20,000, $30,000, or more for something, you want the best deal humanly possible. So why not use that thinking on everything you buy?
What Are the Other Things Never to Buy If They’re Not On Sale?
To be specific, never buy furniture, mattresses, or appliances if they are not on sale. These items are always promoted and sold at discounts and sale prices every day of the year on a brand rotating basis.
All that means is that if you have something very specific in mind, watch and wait for it and buy it when it’s promoted. You can ask in a store about upcoming sales, but the salespeople may not be well informed on “when” it is coming on the item you want.
I recall once when I managed a big department store getting a complaint from a customer who had purchased a sofa for $600 a year ago and now saw it on sale for $450 while shopping that day. He told me he was upset because when he purchased it, he asked if it was ever going to be on sale and was told no.
Now, eleven months later we were in the process of clearing it off the floor to get new styles. His anger was because “he could have waited for the sale price if he had only known!” Two lessons learned here: 1) sometimes we don’t know the answers to the questions and 2) everything will eventually go on sale!
Either you can wait it out based on some historical timing of the sales (like GE’s annual springtime sales event!), or adjust your choices to a current sale item that is comparable. Sometimes, based on your needs, that works best.
The Bottom Line on Sale Pricing
The same principles for houses, cars, and furniture are in place for many other categories. Home appliances, for sure. Televisions and electronics? Yes, definitely. Even buying your new winter coat, scarf, and gloves are things you should never buy if not on sale!
It’s like any other thing you do to improve your personal finances and it takes a little effort to do it. Just like shopping each week for grocery bargains, using coupons for that and also when you dine out, taking your dry cleaning in on Wednesdays to get that extra 10% off on their slowest day of the week…it’s all part of you trying to protect your money and build your wealth.
I say this all the time. People think that the money they earn from their jobs is their “income”. That’s only part truth. The money you save when you spend is also your “income” earned.
If you save $1,000 extra dollars off your new car when you make that purchase, it’s just like earning $1,000 dollars at work! Every penny saved is a penny earned! Ben Franklin was absolutely correct.
Are you a smart sale shopper? Have you given the right amount of thought to your purchases and save the maximum when you shop? How important is it to you to get a bargain and save? Do you ever buy things when they’re not on sale?