MythTip: The Best Deal of All

Black Friday!

It probably comes as no surprise to you that I love a good deal. And what’s the best day of the year to get a great deal? Black Friday of course! I love Black Friday shopping. It’s fun to get out and absorb the eager excitement of the kick-off of the Christmas season.

But I noticed something very frightening in the stores this year, and it wasn’t (just) shopper’s frenzy. It was within myself. The impulse to buy something simply because it was cheap was frighteningly strong. The desire to get a great deal can be very strong. Whenever I face this temptation, I have a method that I follow to help me make sure that I don’t make an unwise purchases of any cost.

The Method

  1. Will I really use this? Sometimes we are tempted to buy something because it is a good deal and we might need it in the future. Do yourself a favor: unless you are absolutely certain that you will need it in the future, don’t buy it. If you don’t use what you buy, then it is too expensive, no matter what the actual cost. Remember, free is better than any discount any retailer may offer (even on Black Friday!). 100% off is the best deal!
  2. How much will I use this? If I determined that I would actually use the item in question, I then consider how much I would use it. Some things I might only use a few times (like a movie that I like but not enough to watch all that much, or a board game that is only fun the first time). If it will have only very little use, then it probably is not worth it.
  3. Is it quality? This question can be hard to answer in-store. If you are shopping online, then you can often find reviews of the product to help you get an idea of the quality of the product. Just remember that you usually get what you pay for. An example: a friend of mine purchased a cheap, $10 mouse for his laptop. It died a month later, so he bought another. This one also died within weeks. So he bought another. Guess what? It didn’t last. Finally, he consented to buy a high quality mouse for $25. It’s been working great for many months now. If he had just purchased a quality item in the first place, it would have been cheaper overall. There are times to buy cheap, and times to buy quality, and you must decide with every purchase whether it ought to be a frugal or a quality purchase.

My Philosophy

My personal philosophy regarding personal finance is that it is all about getting what you really want. The problem is, we decide in the moment what we want, and forget that the decisions of every moment take us either closer or further from our ultimate goals. Budgeting and conservative spending habits are not about denying ourselves what we want, it’s about getting what we want the most out of our money.

A quick example. My wife and I are currently saving for a car. We gave considerable thought to buying a TV this Black Friday because they are so cheap. Eventually, though, we decided not to. Why? Well, our current TV works just fine. An upgrade would be nice, but this one works great for us. Even more importantly, we decided that we would rather have the cash for our future car than the TV. Could we afford the TV? Sure. Was it a good deal? You bet! But do we want it more than we want the car? Nope. So we decided to save the money for what we wanted the most, and not spend it on what we wanted at the moment.

That’s why I write this blog. Because I believe that many people are wasting money without even realizing it. The principles of finance can reveal the unnecessary costs and expenses that we expose ourselves to; they can reveal the path to achieving out greatest financial hopes and dreams. We all have the capacity to be financially successful. We all have enough income. The question is: what do you want the most? Focus on that and avoid frittering away your wealth on impulse purchases and excessive financial drains, and you will one day find yourself with all that you truly want. There may be a price of frugality to pay now, but if you get what you want in the end, is it truly worth it? I believe so.

Posted on 29 Nov 2008