My mom has passed down an interesting trait – the absolute love of a good deal. One of my favourite things about buying my mom a gift is being able to tell her how great the deal was – it’s almost better than the gift itself. Over the years she has given me some great advice on how to spend wisely. The first tip she’s given me sounds counter-intuitive but isn’t.
1. Shop – but don’t necessarily spend
I was shocked when she said this too – then she reminded me shopping doesn’t necessarily mean spending (insert eye roll here).
What it really means is to browse. Become familiar with where to find the best regular prices, where the real sales are, when to buy seasonal items (like winter coats or swimwear), and in general where to find items you like or may need. This has helped me find my staple stores and has also taught me that a sale is not always a sale. I also know to never pay full price at stores that seem to always have promotions.
This lesson was exceptionally helpful when I was planning my wedding. For the items I was DIY-ing I knew where to shop and I knew that they regularly had 50% off coupons. It also taught me that specialty stores are sometimes expensive just for the sake of it and similar items can often be found for less elsewhere.
I took her advice to another level and taught her something in return: online browsing. I know the quality at my favourite stores, so I subscribed to their emails. Some may say that this increases unnecessary spending and creates a sense of urgency – so beware. Willpower is a requirement but will be rewarded.
2. A deal is not always a deal
Who doesn’t need a new [insert item here] every now and then? But do you need two? Buy one and get the second for 50% off sounds like a good deal, right? Maybe. You’re only actually saving 25%, and you’re spending more than you otherwise would have.
Don’t buy more just because it seems like a good deal. I sometimes felt I was missing out with a BOGO deal – I’d always try to find a second item. And then my husband shocked me when he only purchased one item during a BOGO sale. I tried to convince him otherwise and he responded with “I only need one”. SHOCK. HORROR. Realization.
3. Take your time finding the perfect item
If you need something take the time to look for exactly what you want and what you need. I love shoes, and I do my best to control the size of my collection. But there are times when such a purchase has a purpose, and I give myself time to look for exactly what I want, ideally for a good price. There is no sense of urgency. Taking your time will help you find something you’ll really enjoy and for a price you’re comfortable with.
Time can sometimes result in spending more money – which flies in the face of what I’ve just said. When I needed a new winter coat, I had a list of needs and wants and began researching. Not only do I live in Canada, but I have a dog which means going outside is a must. After some research, I invested in a high-end coat knowing I may experience some sticker shock, but the price would be worth it over time.
4. Invest in quality
This is not a new one. A quality item is worth every penny – but I’m also talking about quality of life. Invest in your passions; skimping on what you truly enjoy now may seem better for your bottom line, but what will it cost you in the long run? I not only love sleep, I tend to need it daily – so when we were in the market for a new mattress, we considered purchasing a budget friendly option. However, we decided that spending more for a quality mattress would prove to be financially and emotionally beneficial, and we were right. Find what really brings you pleasure and invest in it; even if you have a small budget, find a way to do the things you love.
Rewarding yourself now and planning for the future are not mutually exclusive. Moderation, or balance, is the key.