Just the other day I was at the store with my four little ones glancing through some baby clothes on clearance. I was really struggling! There were some great deals on some really cute baby girl clothes, but I was having a hard time deciding if I should buy some.
Did my little girl need any clothes? Was this the way I wanted to spend the money from our clothing budget? If I did buy something, how could I decide between all the cute options? Which would be the most useful and versatile? Which would last the longest?
My three older kids were getting impatient as I stood there hemming and hawing over a purchase of less than $5 (or less than $10 if I got two…).
Hmmm… who’s having a baby soon? These would make great gifts!
Ahh! I could not believe I was having such a hard time making this decision. Several years ago, the decision would have been easy– buy several outfits in different sizes for us and several more to save as baby shower gifts.
After all, it was a great deal! Or so I thought!
Is it a good deal?
I like a good deal as much as the next gal (well, probably more), but now I am more careful about defining a good deal. I have learned that there is a difference between a good price and a good deal. In most cases, it’s a personal question. It depends on our needs, our taste, and our budget. There’s a lot more to a good deal than just the price.
Seeing something at a great price is not enough to get it in my cart. The purchase has to go through a more rigorous mental analysis.
Here are some guidelines I use to determine if something is a good deal for me. My husband will assure you that I am still learning to follow them.
- If I don’t have the money for it, it’s not a good deal. Of course I’m talking about cash money, not available credit. With very few exceptions, if you can’t pay cash, then it’s not a good deal. If it’s something we really want or need, we can make it a high enough priority to save up for it.
- If I don’t need it, it’s not a good deal. Most of us have plenty of stuff. Striking when every good price comes along will just fill our houses with things that we don’t need.
- If I don’t have a current use for it, it’s not a good deal. I don’t want to store things away for some unknown future date just because they were a good price today. I’m learning more and more the value of uncluttered space. Not only does it look better, it feels better too.
- If I have to think of how to justify a purchase (to myself or to my husband), it’s not a good deal. Good choices don’t usually require justification. When we find ourselves trying to justify buying something just because it’s a good price, we probably shouldn’t buy it.
Clues that something IS a good deal:
In addition to the price being “right,” there are some other standards that your purchase should meet before you can call it a good deal.
- It’s in the budget. Just because the price of an item is good, doesn’t mean that it’s worth spending your money on. With the way we budget, it’s fine to “splurge” on things as long as it’s accounted for in the budget. If your priorities change, you can move money from “eating out” to “clothes” so that you can buy those sandals you’ve been eyeing that just went on sale.
- It’s something you need or were planning to buy anyway. One time I was making a costume for my daughter and I needed some white satin. I was at some yard sales on Saturday morning and I found a yard of white satin folded neatly on a table in someone’s garage with a $1 price tag. I was thrilled! It was a great deal because it was something I was already planning to buy.
- It’s something that you are sure you will use. I would put a time frame on it. Say, something you’re going to use in the next year (or sonner). If you aren’t absolutely sure you will use it (and reasonably soon), then you are just exchanging your money for something that will take up space and provide neither use nor enjoyment.
It’s not easy!
As someone who is always looking for a good deal, I can assure you that passing up something with a great price is hard. Learning to make a distinction between a good price and a good deal takes practice and willpower. Lots of willpower!
Learning to distinguish between something that is just a good price and something that is a great deal for you is well worth the self-discipline it requires. Your wallet will be fuller and your space will be cleaner.
How about you?
- Have you struggled to decide if something was a great deal for you, or just a great price?
- How do you decide if something is a great deal for you?