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How to tell if your bargain-hunting is getting out of hand

February 12, 2018 11:00 AM
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Everyone loves a good sale. But you can have too much of a good thing, writes Gail Vaz-Oxlade.

Who doesn’t love a good sale? But when bargain hunting, coupon clipping or mastering the deal becomes the objective, you and your budget are likely headed for big trouble.

I can’t tell you the number of people who have said, “But it was such a deal!” Really? You don’t have the money you need to pay off your credit card balance in full, but it was a deal? Hmmm.

If you’re spending money you don’t have – if you’re putting it on credit and not paying it off in full by the end of the month – it’s not a deal. If you’re buying something you don’t need, it’s not a deal. If it takes you three weeks, three months, or never to put what you bought to use, it’s not a deal.

A deal is buying the snowsuit your child is going to wear next winter on sale at the end of this winter at 70 per cent off. A deal is picking up a new book you know your sister is dying to read for half price and stashing it for her birthday.

A deal is getting something you really need or want at a significant savings, and being able to pay for it in cash.

1. Your home is jammed to the rafters with stuff. Chronic bargain shopping is often unconscious spending, so you may not even know you’re doing it. Take a look around. How much of the stuff you bought is sitting unused?

2. Your favourite phrase is “It was on sale?” All of us fall prey to impulse shopping from time to time. The problem for people who can’t curb their desire for immediate gratification is that they’re not prioritizing. They’ve lost (or never had) the ability to figure out if they can do without, so, but for a whopping salary, they’re a centimetre away from destitution.

3. Acquiring something new makes you feel happy. As counterintuitive as it may seem, some people become chronic bargain shoppers out of a fear of poverty. It can be a self-esteem thing too. If you have to have the latest fashions and accessories to feel you’re admired, your self-esteem issues are showing.

Better yet, get yourself a small notebook and promise you’ll never again shop without a list.

In this notebook, keep a list of the things you need and want. If you find a bargain, look at your list to see where that item is. If it’s at or near the top of your list in terms of priority, and you have the cash on hand, buy.

Also read: From iPads to charcuterie, how realtors woo buyers to an open house


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