- Personal Finance»
- Frugal Living
How to Use Discounts Effectively. Making the most of deals and sales.
It can be really hard to know whether a bargain is, in fact, a bargain. Different shops sell the same items at different prices, and it can be hard to tell what the product is actually worth. More so, when a shop declares 25% off this, and 1/3 off that. How do you know when you're getting the best deal? And, how do you ensure that you save as much as possible, using the discount effectively? Confused? Read on...
Basically, you need to research. Look up the product online- obviously this means that you need to know what you want to buy first! Ensure that you base your research on genuine products, so try to avoid quotes from the middle of the sahara and things like that, otherwise your findings will be skewed.
Take an average NON SALE price- to do this, add all of the examples together and divide by the number of examples. Then, when you see the product "on sale" you will be able to use your average price as an indicator as to whether it is a genuine saving, or simply a reduction to RRP. I usually research a variety of different sites for most purchases, even just CDs and DVDs, it's amazing how different the prices can be for the same item at the same time of year!
While you are researching online, look to see if you can buy the product direct from the manufacturer. This is possible on sites like ebay for certain items, particularly jewelry and clothes from China and Thailand. You will find that buying direct from dispatch can save you so much more! For example, I recently bought a silver charm bracelet for £2 online, direct from dispatch- a couple of weeks later I saw the same bracelet in a boutique shop for £10- an £8 markup! Even in a 50% sale at the boutique, the store still makes £3 profit!
Now, if it was you, unknowing and naïve, and you bought the bracelet from the boutique, then discovered that you could have bought it direct for 1/5th of the price, would you be disappointed?
As a bargain hunter, I would be gutted!
I love the feeling of getting a bargain, getting as much from my hard earned cash as i possibly can. In saying that, I also love shopping, and sometimes I do buy things JUST BECAUSE they're on offer!
This is another little retail trap you must look out for. Just because it's on offer, doesn't mean it's a saving. It certainly isn't a saving if you weren't going to buy the product anyway! This is something I have learned the hard way!
For years, I was a sucker for those "spend X to get 10% off" vouchers. I would go to that shop to spend X amount, just to get the discount! Not realising that I would have saved even more just by binning the voucher!
I used to be the type of customer that the shops targeted. The type that was conned into spending double the amount that I intended, simply because there was a big red sign telling me I was saving.
Don't get me wrong, not all of these offers are bad!! If you get a money off voucher for a shop you frequent, or a free postage voucher for an online store that you wanted an order with, then USE THEM.
But, just don't be conned into "saving money" by making random impulse buys or increasing your spend limit dramatically in order to get pennies worth of discounts particularly those that are redeemable on another day, thus ensuring your return business.
Please, recognise marketing ploys when you see them!
If you are able to do this, as well as research your items in advance, you will have the advantage. You will be less likely to rush to buy an item at 75% off, because you know you can get it at a fraction of the cost! You will have more control over your spending. And, you will be able to identify and use genuine discounts effectively.