Today I saved $1700 when I was shopping at Neiman Marcus for a pair of Christian Louboutin heels to wear this weekend on a trip my husband and I are taking to New York City, as well as a gorgeous new dress. I mean, seriously; aren’t you about as green as you can possibly get with envy right now? I hate to brag and sound so rude and so, well, braggy, but I just cannot stop myself. Want to know my savings secret on this particular high-end designer purchase?
I put the dress back on the rack and told the salesperson that I would not be needing the shoes.
Then I walked out of the store and bought myself a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks (okay, so I saved $1697) because I’m in denial that fall is not actually here and that it’s 98 degrees outside in Florida even though I put my fall décor out on the first in hopes that it would summon my favorite season (it did not, in case you were wondering). The only way to actually save money is not to spend it. Now, I’m a big lover of a sale. I do love my designers, and I do own many of them, but I never pay full price on anything that does go on sale. It’s a waste.
And while it might not be much of a waste to buy something on sale when you are already buying it in the first place, sales are not always what they are cracked up to be. I die a little on the inside every single time someone tells me that they got this or that because it was on sale. My response is always, “You bought it on sale because you were out specifically looking for that item because you do need it for something, or you bought it because it was on sale and you did not actually need it in the first place?”
Their response is almost always, “I couldn’t pass up a deal like this!”
Newsflash – many sales are not all that good. Some are, sure. Like that one time I bought a pair of gorgeous Jimmy Choo black close-toed heels for $250 marked down from $695; that was a good deal. Why? What makes that a good deal? What makes that a good sale and a huge savings, friends, is that I was looking for a pair of shoes just like that to wear for church and other events. I was in the market for those specific shoes, and I shopped around until I found them on sale. And that is a win. The time I bought a pair of fuschia Manolo Blahniks for $199 on sale from $595? Not a deal – not a money saver. I wasn’t in the market for those shoes. I did not need them. I bought the because they were on sale. I would have actually saved if I did not buy them.
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about shopping is that a sale means you are saving money. It does not. Allow me to repeat that sales do not always mean you are saving money, even if you need the item in the first place. This is why I have such a problem with coupons – and the people that use them. For the most part, I’ve tried to coupon. I cannot find coupons for things I actually use. I’m not about to change my eating habits from buying fresh seafood to buying packaged seafood with all kinds of additives and other crap in them so that I can save a dollar on two packages.
I’m not about to start eating dinosaur chicken nuggets from the freezer section because I can buy one get one free sometimes at Publix. I’m going to buy fresh chicken, uncooked, packaged and ready for me to turn into a healthy meal. And I’m certainly not going to start filing my body with Oreos just because they are on sale for half off (except during our annual Halloween party when I make creepy eyeball Oreo balls – then I will buy them on sale because I need them).
Another thing that people seem to forget is that stores often manufacture sales to make them look good. For example, I just got an email from Old Navy telling me I can use my Super Cash right now. At first I was like, “YES!” and then as I was looking at jeans for my kids for the (hopefully) upcoming cool season, I realized that when I bought a couple pair for my oldest daughter a week ago, they were $7 per pair less expensive at full price last week. Now I can use my Super Cash and the ‘regular’ price is much higher than it was back then. It seems to me that in order for them to make money on this ‘sale’ they have increased the prices on everything else to make up for the ‘sale’ that they are offering.
My friends, if you want to save money, just don’t spend it. It is the only surefire way that I can make you understand that sales are not worth the price that you will pay all the time. Sure, sometimes sales are amazing. My kids, after all, eat Pepperidge Farm goldfish like they’re going extinct, so when they are 5 for $5, I snap them up like they are going extinct. Do I need 20 bags at once? No, but I will need them over the course of the next two months, and I might as well get them while they are on sale, right? Right.
A good rule of thumb is that if you need something, you use it regularly and you know it is something you always need, buy it when it’s on sale. Cleaning products you use around the house all the time, baby formula, diapers; things that you will certainly use are always worth buying on sale. But if you don’t drink chocolate milk, why buy it when it’s BOGO?
Photo by Getty Images