Why You Shouldn’t Shop Sales

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shop sales

Picture this: You walk into your favorite store in the mall, and there it is…a massive SALE sign. Everything is 50% off! It’s like angels are singing, and forces beyond your control are pushing you towards the back of the store. Suddenly, it’s as if you’ve won the lottery. Shirts for $2! Designer shoes for $10!

You start to wonder how you got so lucky to choose that very day to go to the mall. You can practically buy a whole new wardrobe for pennies on the dollar, and just think of how fashionable you will look when the day is done! It’s time for a cold glass of water to the face as this really isn’t a good dream. It’s actually more representative of a momentary lapse of judgement brought on by the almighty SALE sign.

If you shop sales like this regularly, you might be more familiar with regret than you’d care to admit. You might even have to return some things to come in under budget for that month. When we shop sales, what is it that makes us so darn vulnerable?

I for one try not to get sucked into them. Keep in mind that I’m a big advocate for shopping for the best price of an item so what I’m talking about in this post is the “sale sneak attack,” the one that draws you in when you weren’t intending to spend money to begin with. Here’s why I loathe them:

1. When You Shop Sales They Make You Want to Buy, Buy, Buy

When things are cheap, you’re going to want to buy more of them! It’s really quite simple, and it gets us every time. We might not need or even want what’s on sale, but we’re lured into this false sense of urgency that the items we’re seeing will never drop to prices that low ever again.

This is especially true on Black Friday, but as many wise bloggers have already pointed out, you can get often get better deals during other times of the year. (Editor’s note – As someone who works in the advertising industry, this is SO true! In many cases, there are better times to get a “deal” so be informed with your purchasing.)

2. You’re More Likely to Buy Something That’s Not Quite Right

I’ve made this mistake before, and I really try not to. Basically, you see something on sale, try it on, and even though it doesn’t fit all that well, you still convince yourself that you should buy it. Maybe it’s just a tad too short or maybe it would fit better at a different weight. Either way, I can’t count how many times I bought something just because it was on sale, even though it might not have been a good buy for me.

These days, I only buy clothes if I really love them, and this often leads to spending a bit more on my wardrobe than I have in the past.

3. You Have a Harder Time Returning Bad Purchases

Sometimes you can return sale items and sometimes you can’t. It really depends on the store, but a lot of the biggest blowout sales come with the understanding that you cannot return the item. That’s part of the gamble. These days, I’d much rather have some flexibility in terms of my shopping, and I enjoy shopping at stores that have generous and lenient return policies. I know that not all sales are evil, but they sure aren’t helpful to those who are trying to get their finances on track.

What do you think – Are you for or against massive sales? Do you find it easy to get sucked into them?


Photo Credit: Mark Hillary

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for parents who want to better their finances and take on a more active financial role in their families. Check out her award winning blog,


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