I’m a sucker for skincare products. I don’t wear a lot of makeup, and my hair gets cut at First Choice Haircutters three times a year, but I fully admit to having splurged on skin-care impulse buys on many occasions over the year. I’d read a comment somewhere referencing a product, look it up on Sephora and see the hundreds of glowing reviews (does anyone dislike ANYTHING on that site?), and before I could think too hard, I’d have my credit card out and a new tube or vial of something on its way to me in the mail. I’d try it a few times, realize that I, like so many people before me, fell for a snake oil sales pitch, and then it would go into the back of a drawer for months or years.
I went to local spa a couple months and paid for a service that I’m now not 100% sure was really needed, but that’s a different story. Since then, I’ve been getting random emails from them advertising their sales. 10% off this, $25 off that. Then I saw the newest attempt:
Receive 50% off any services you have never tried!
My lizard brain started drooling. I went to their website and started looking through page after page of high-priced treatments that would now be almost affordable! I’d be saving money, so surely that was enough to bypass my newly created month-long wait list for non-essentials.
Thankfully, I’m not entirely an idiot, and I was able to think a little rationally about it. Because, wait- saving money? That’s a marketing gimmick that really doesn’t transfer over to spreadsheet and actual numbers. If I actually save $200, at the end of the month my savings account or investment accounts will be up by $200. Math, pure and simple.
If I ‘save money’ according to marketing professionals, I’ll have spent money. Let’s look at this sale again. Let’s say a facial normally costs $175, and during this promotion I get it for $87.50. At the end of the month, my savings account is
up DOWN $87.50. There was no saving involved anywhere.
Now, let’s say this was something I was going to get anyway. I have $600 budgeted towards food/household supplies. If there was a sale at the grocery store and I was able to get all the perishables I needed for 25% less, that would raise the amount of money I transfer over to my savings account at the end of the month, and I would be actually saving money. But unplanned purchases? That sale is stealing your money without you even realizing it.
The way I see it, if I wasn’t planning on buying something at a regular price, it’s probably something I don’t need. Why do I suddenly need it at a lower price?
These are my rules going forward for sales:
1- Do I have budgeted money set aside that will cover this purchase?
2- Have I already been planning on purchasing this item (i.e. is it on my Want list)?
3- Will this increase my net savings at the end of the month?
If so, I will take advantage of the sale. If not, then I guess I’m just going to have to pass on that one.
Nice try, marketing people, nice try.