Is a Sale Really Saving You Money? A Minimalism Manifesto: Is a sale really saving you money? Another topic of contention here, folks. How many times have you been to the store, lured by the “opportunity” of something being on “sale”. Did we really step back to think if we needed what was on sale?
Sales are great if they’re something you actually require but how frequently does that really occur?
A sale at its core is meant to entice buyers to buy. This is done by creating an artificial need paired with a finite time span to act on this event. I’m not sure if its cultural conditioning or something more deep seated in human nature that creates the appeal of a sale. The main point is that the concept of sales do something to us internally. Regardless, it seems to be a powerful force that motivates us towards action. What is this motivation? Perhaps it is the fear of missing out?
Do you really need this?
Looking at this situation objectively, let’s examine the temptation. “Buy now”, “Buy today”, “Offer good until____”
Creating a situation where time is fleeting and this opportunity must be seized quickly otherwise you will miss out bypasses our cognitive filters that would stop us most times and say “Wait, I really don’t need another shirt. Who cares if it’s 50% off?” I think an important question to ask yourself the next time this situation occurs is were you thinking of buying this item before you found out it was on sale. What I mean by that is not that you thought of it once 3 years ago and that’s the justfication. No, what I mean is are you going to that retail establishment for that specific item because you need it and it happens to be on sale which conveniently lines up with your needs and your budget? If not, do not purchase it!
Looking further into motivations
It’s my own theory but I feel like people have a subconcious need to acquire things – items, supplies, knick-knacks, etc. I feel like this need to hoard items goes back to a time before we had money and needed to be more self reliant. I’m referencing a time before currency as we know it, when commerce was predominately a barter system. In this hypothetical time for the sake of the theory, having extra items definitely would make sense. It would be good to have extra things when you could trade them with your neighbor for other items that you needed. In this sense, it’s a great survival tool. Not to mention, it also enriches the community as a whole when a variety of goods are shared and everyone benefits.
Where it goes wrong
Collecting/hoarding items in a barter type economy is a logical move, similar to how people collect money in a savings account. All of this potential exchangable wealth could be used in a future date and offers some security in bad times. When you think of collecting items in this way, it is a practical move.
Where does this well intentioned impulse to collect and hoard go awry? Like so many things given to us as an evolutionary advantage – there is always a potential downside when technology or societal structure turns this impulse into something obsolete and in doing so, makes it harmful. What happens when our opportunistic, hunter-gather, survivorialist mentality is now provided with the ability to purchase almost any conceivable item in less than 3 clicks with Prime shipping. Things start to get derailed – fast. You’ve seen Hoarders, right?
I think we need to re-examine our relationships with material items. At what point does this relationship begin to shift from healthy to unhealthy? The most obvious answer is – when it begins to hurt us.
Things/items/stuff begins to harm us when they outlive their usefulness, become redundant or create emotional turbulence when that was not their original purpose.
Customer debt seems to follow a certain sequence. Here’s an example of the typical story:
- Purchasing items you don’t need because “it was a good deal” when you’re already low on cash
- Continued overspending on “good deals”, racking up credit card debt
- Maintaining this behavior until the debt payments become increasingly burdensome
- Unable to pay these debts back and eventually need to restructure the debt (refinance)
Unfortunately, this is just another stop gap measure as refinancing credit card debt to more affordable debt without modifying the primary behavior is just a play for time. Without any changes, the spending level would be maintained and eventually history would repeat itself.
What needs to change?
It is our relationship to material items that needs to change.
Material goods and the stress they cause
How does an inanimate object cause stress?
Stress comes in many forms: worry, doubt, concern
What does this mean? Eventually, The things we own end up owning us.
Your depreciating car -> “You know it’ll be worth less next year. You should just trade it in now for something new and take the hit on depreciation before it gets worse”
Your outdated cell phone -> “You still have an iPhone 6?! That is an antique. You should trade that in for something new. Who cares that the new phones cost $600-1000, they have more features and a better camera now!”
In the end, a car is a car and the phone is a phone. These items maintain 90% of the same function regardless of how they are dolled up and “updated”.
The most improtant thing to remember is everything that is “new” is only new for a few moments before it joins the ranks out the outdated and replaced.
If you want to get ahead financially – The Minimalist Approach
Chasing the elusive dopamine kick of “new” is a fool’s game. You will never have everything new all of the time. Spending yourself into debt never ends well and destroys your ability to create true wealth and freedom.
Freedom isn’t the amount of toys you own, it’s the amount of time you can spend on what you want.
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