How to: Side Step Sales Traps and Stay on Your Holiday Budget

How to side step sales traps and stay on holiday budget - A Side of Fabulous Blog

This week is all about getting organized for the holidays. Today we're talking about navigating Black Friday and other holiday sales.

The Schedule:

This time of year we're all INUNDATED with sales. Some of them will indeed be fabulous.

Others, not so much.

Before you worry that I'm about to tell you to never shop a sale or ever again, that's not what's happening. That's not realistic.

Instead, I want to make you aware of certain practices (in case you didn't already know) and bring in some thoughtful awareness so that you'll feel good about the money you spend.

So many people tell me they shop to feel better (#retailtherapy), but then end up feeling worse because they overspent or thought they got a good deal when really they didn't. This season is about love, sparkle, and giving - all things that make you feel good! Let's make sure you feel good while you're shopping too!

Before buying an item for yourself ask:

  • Do I need this? How will I use it? Will it fabulously accomplish the task or just kinda work? Do I luuurve it? Where will it live? If you can answer these questions positively, then go for it! If not, step away. #youllthankmelater.
  • If the item is on sale, would you buy the item at normal price? Yes? SCOOOOOOOOORE! No? Why not? Is it because the item is overpriced or is it because you're only in it for the "rush of the sale." If you're only buying because it's on sale then you're only spending money and saving nothing. Walk away.

Before buying a gift For someone else ask:

  • Will the person need, use, and/or really love it? Do they have a place to put it? Yes, you need to think about these things for others too because: 1) It's easy to buy for others what we really want for ourselves (in which case get two if they'd love it as well, or treat yo self and get them what they'd really want whether you dig it or not.) and 2) "Gift Guilt" is real, and many of my clients have had it. Unwanted gifts often turn into dusty clutter. Please don't make this person feel bad about your kind gesture all because you didn't take a few extra moments to think about it first.
  • Unsure what they want? Ask them. It may not seem as fun as a surprise, but if it's something that they really want or need, who cares about the small lack of surprise. The sentiment is still just as wonderful. If you really don't want to ask, take them out for a lovely meal or movie or skydiving or something they'd love but wouldn't pay for themselves. Gifing experiences are just as, if not more, valuable overall than things and don’t muss up the house. #makesomememories 

Sales practices to be aware of:

  • Sales are for the business, not the consumer. Stores aren't being considerate or thinking up ways to save you money. They're looking for ways to drive traffic and get you in the door in the hopes that once there, you'll buy more than just the sale items. Even for the most ethical and sincere businesses, having a sale isn't 100% altruistic. NOTE: I don't say this to be negative in any way. It's merely to arm you with the facts when you walk in. #gimmeallthefacts 
  • End caps - displays at the end of the aisle - are paid product placement. They are meant to catch your attention in the hopes you'll purchase whatever is there instead of - or in addition to - what you originally intended to purchase. Before I studied marketing and advertising I thought they were there to be helpful - think chips, dips and beer together during the Super Bowl. I now know these end caps are paid for (at a premium no less) by the manufacturer to sell more of their product. 
  • Stands in the middle of aisles are paid product placement too. You know when you're walking down the aisle of a store and find a stand of products that isn't usually there? Paid for. They are psychological placement for you to "bump" into and hopefully purchase from. 
  • If the display is messy, like a big box with all the product tossed in haphazardly, double and triple read the sale offer. These types of displays are purposely set up because studies show that messy displays make people think that they're getting a better deal than if the store is neater. Maybe the items in the bin are a fabulous deal. Maybe not. Double-check first before you purchase to ensure you aren't duped. 
  • Read the fine print on sales for multiple items. Whatever offer it is - BOGO, buy three for, etc. - do you need all of them? If so, fabulous. Go for it. If not, will you get a discount for purchasing just the one you need? If not, it's still theoretically a discount because you aren't wasting money on what you don't need.
  • Just because it's the "hot" new item that can't seem to stay on shelves doesn't mean it's truly popular and you should buy it too. Sometimes the appearance of extreme mass desire is manufactured to create more desire among the public. If you're a Mad Men fan, I'll remind you of the episode "Public Relations." (couldn't find the video -drats!) In it, Peggy decides to pay two women to fight over a Sugarberry Ham. People suddenly want Sugarberry Hams for Thanksgiving and the client is pleased. (Even if Don isn't.) They don't call it a "PR stunt" for nuthin.


And being a small business owner (solopreneur if you will) here's my "buy local" tip for the post:

When possible, buy from a locally owned store.

More of your money stays in the local economy, and you're helping a fellow member of your community directly. The Saturday after Thanksgiving is "Small Business Saturday." If you want to take real action in supporting and building the economy, this is a way you can do it.

Everything goes on sale this time of year but sometimes the savings are only perceived. Don't fall into the trap and spend money just because it's the holiday and it's on sale. However, when you find something on sale that you would normally purchase, sales are fabulous.

Do you have a hard time resisting a sale? How do you handle it? Share with us in the comments!

Melinda Massie - A Side of Fabulous

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