The Good Deal Dilemma

by Marianne Giullian

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Valentine cards are on sale for 10 cents a box. It's such a good price that I could buy 10 boxes for the price of one! The good deal dilemma forces us to choose what to do in the face of a great bargain. Do I really need 10 boxes? Do I want them cluttering up my home? Will my kids want them three years from now? The key to avoiding the good deal dilemma is to buy only what you need.

There are pros and cons to buying things on sale for a great price. When finding good deals, it is easy to overbuy. When you buy more, you are not necessarily saving money. You are just getting more things for the amount you would have spent anyway. By buying more than you need, you may eat more or use more than necessary. If things went on sale this year, chances are they will next year. By buying only what you need or enough for next season, you aren't limiting your future choices. Plus, you are saving money by spending less to get what you need.

Another reason not to buy more than you need is the amount of time it takes to care for the things you have. How much is your time really worth? The amount of clothing you have is a good example. How many clothes do you really need? By going through our clothes and cutting back, I spend less time doing laundry. By having fewer clothes, you not only save money, you also save time.

I am a strong believer in bargain shopping. I like to buy premium quality Christmas paper every year in January when it goes 75% off. Even though I could save more by buying the superstore Christmas paper at a bargain price, it is worth it to me to get the nice paper and I am happy with my decision. Think carefully before buying. Don't shop impulsively. I decide beforehand how many rolls of Christmas paper I need. I consider whether the paper can be used for other holidays or occasions. (For example, plain red for Valentine's Day, plain green for St. Patrick's Day, gold for weddings, etc.)

I bought 10 sets of Christmas china that were marked at 75 percent off plus an additional 10 percent. It was a fabulous deal. When I got them home, I found they took half a closet to store. I already have nice china that we can use at Christmas. I decided it wasn't worth it to me to use that much space for something that I would only use a couple of times in the year. I took them back and now I have more money in my checking account as well as some luxury towels I have wanted for a long time. I would have saved myself the time of taking the china back if I had figured out beforehand what I really wanted, but it is sometimes hard to decide at the moment. This experience helped me to realize that you can actually save time and money by passing up bargains.

Going to garage sales can save you a lot of money. Have you ever gone to garage sales and come home with more than you were looking for? Were the good deals what you really wanted? What could you have done with your time if you hadn't gone? Could you have bought one thing you really wanted instead? Is it worth it to sacrifice what you really want for lots of inexpensive stuff? Most people don't realize how much they really spend getting good deals. Keep track of it and you may be surprised.

With items that you use regularly, stocking up when it is on sale is a good idea. Be careful not to buy more than you can use, especially if it has an expiration date. One year we bought four extra turkeys for a great price before Thanksgiving. I was tired of turkey after we cooked the second one. Good deal or not, I like chicken better. We now limit ourselves to one extra turkey.

The main advantage of getting things on sale is that you can afford luxuries that you couldn't afford at regular price. My Christmas tree is covered with beautiful, white and gold handmade Santa Claus ornaments. I found them at a store about 15 months ago and fell in love with them. I imagined how beautiful they would look on my tree. I wanted to buy some, but they were $13.95 each. It didn't fit into our Christmas budget, so I gave up the idea. Through the next few months, the price kept dropping until it went down to $2.95. When I saw that price, I bought 25 of them right away. I waited another nine months to put them on my tree, but in the end, I got exactly what I wanted for an excellent price. Instead of paying around $350, I ended up paying around $75. Patience paid off.

As you go bargain hunting, you can avoid the good deal dilemma by asking yourself the following questions before making a purchase:

  1. Do I really like it?
  2. Do I really need it or will I really use it?
  3. How many do I really need or how many will I really use?
  4. What could I do with that money if I didn't buy it?
  5. Do I want to have this clutter up my home and be responsible for it?

See if you have something that will work now instead of adding more to what you have. More stuff means more clutter, more to clean and more to be responsible for. By being wise about purchases, your money can be used to invest in your future or live more comfortable on your income.

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