Making the Case for Paying Full Price
Today we have a guest post by Dave from Minimalism and Your Money who argues that by becoming more willing to pay full price and through being more intentional about spending, it’s possible to save much more money compared to chasing sales and cheaper products.
Pay full price? Avoid sales? Wait, doesn’t this go against every key belief of personal finance experts? Shouldn’t we be seeking deals and coupons?
In order to save, we must spend. While sales and great deals can save money, and sometimes great offers come along offering huge discounts, the fact remains that money must be spent regardless.
Maybe, by becoming more willing to pay full price and through being more intentional about our spending, we can save much more money than we would by chasing sales and cheaper products.
Reason # 1 – We Spend More When Following Sales
We are bombarded by advertisements on billboards, television, and social media. Everywhere we look we see them:
Buy one get one free!
Clearance! 40% off!
Hurry, sale ends soon!
Have you ever been wandering around the mall and found a sale? You felt good about finding those jeans for 50% off. Or you couldn’t believe your luck at getting a pair of sneakers along with that pair of boots because there was a buy one get one free sale.
Sure, sometimes these are great deals and sometimes you will save money. But, at the same time, saving $40 on a $100 shirt still means you spent $60 on a shirt. Instead, try to avoid impulse purchases altogether and move toward a more mindful approach to spending.
The average American spends nearly $150 per month on clothing.
In 2012, J.C. Penney attempted to do away with all gimmicky sales, instead opting for “fair and square” pricing.
The results were disastrous.
The company almost went bankrupt because they were trying to be honest with their shoppers.
Commercials and advertisements are created in a way that draws us to purchase items, many of which we don’t really need.
Reason #2 – We Get Tricked Into Buying Inferior Products
Additionally, how many times have we all bought something because it was a few bucks cheaper? We settle for product X, but product Y is a superior item and would have only cost us five extra dollars.
I remember going to the outlet mall a few years ago to search for winter boots. I definitely needed them; my other boots had a massive hole.
I stumbled across this great deal for a pair of heavy, waterproof boots. I tried them on and they felt pretty heavy and clunky, but the price was so much more affordable than some of the other boots I had been looking at.
I’m sure you can see where this story is going. I bought the mammoth-sized boots and felt pretty proud of myself for getting what I needed at a very good price.
The happiness wore off pretty quickly, though, during that next snowstorm. The boots were a pain to put on, weren’t all that comfortable, and felt like they weighed even more than in the store now that I was traipsing through the snow with them.
Moral of the story: I would have been much happier in the long run if I had just spent an extra $30 or so on boots that fit me well.
There are, of course, times when buying a cheaper product makes the most sense. Feel free to buy the cheapest brand of cotton swabs, aluminum foil or aspirin.
But just as often, we end up purchasing a product simply because it saves us a couple of bucks instead of thinking about the long-term ramifications of this product.
Sometimes that product can even be free, yet still rob us of our time and money.
Or we jump for that pair of jeans that cost $30 instead of the pair that cost $50, knowing full well that the $30 pair may have holes in them within the first six months.
Or we buy the $8 towel instead of the $20 towel, but it feels scratchy and gross from the first time you take a shower. Before we know it, we end up going and buying a new cheap towel and the cycle repeats itself.
Consider Cost Per Use
Cost Per Use (CPU) is a popular idea in the personal finance community. Using this formula, items are valued based not on the overall cost, but on the cost divided by how many times you will use the item.
Using the CPU method, those $75 jeans don’t look so expensive if they are worn all of the time. Compare that to a great deal on those $30 jeans that never really fit correctly or weren’t really the right style.
Wear those $75 jeans 75 times and the CPU is $1.
Wear those $30 jeans twice and then throw them in the back of the closet, and the CPU is $15.
What’s the better deal? The answer seems pretty simple.
Always Pay Full Price?
So, does this mean that every item bought should be a full-price purchase? Of course not.
There are plenty of times when it makes all the sense in the world to pay less for an item.
When grocery shopping, stick to a list instead of aimlessly wandering up and down the aisles. Instead of going to the mall to see what you might find, go with a specific plan in mind and only when you need or really want an item.
The key is to be intentional and mindful of what is necessary and avoid impulse purchases.
There are two messages here:
First, don’t be afraid to pay full price if it’s something that you really need.
Second, don’t be afraid to spend good money on high-quality items if you need them.
When I go shopping, it’s because it’s something I know I need. I started off this school year and realized that I had literally one pair of dress pants. I needed a few more, so that weekend I went shopping.
I had a specific item that I needed and that was all I shopped for. If the pants were on sale, then that’s great! Bonus! But, if not, that was okay, too, because I was buying something that I needed, not simply for the fact that it was on sale.
Buying it was a conscious decision. This is an important distinction. Try shopping with a plan to avoid impulse purchases.
In the end, most people will save more money by avoiding the lure of sales and cheaper items. Be mindful that 25% off is still 75% on. BOGO still requires that you buy one.
An intentional mindset to all purchases is the best way to avoid impulse purchases and save money. Shop because that item is necessary, and buy quality items.
If it happens to be on sale or you decide that the cheaper alternative provides good value, that’s just a nice bonus — but often our minds are tricked into thinking that sales and bargain items are saving us money in the long run.
Find more articles by Dave over at Minimalism and Your Money.