How 20% Off can cost you 100%.
If you purchase an item that you would not have purchased if it wasn't "20% off," then you really have not saved any money at all.
Instead, you will have spent 100% more on the item than you otherwise would have.
Time and time again I hear people trying to justify their purchases to others by telling them how much they saved. In most cases it sounds as if they are trying to convince themselves more than the person they are speaking to -- which leads me to believe they are simply trying to fight off the buyer's remorse that comes from reacting to sales hype instead of intentionally acting in the best interest of themselves and their families.
What most of us fail to realize is that the end value of a purchase is not measured by the amount of money we might have "saved," but by the impact it will have on our future happiness relative to how else we might have spent (invested) the money used for the purchase.
What Else Could You Buy With the "Sales Price?"
In my experience, the biggest reason we fall victim to sales hype is because we don't have a written, prioritized list that contains wants and wishes that we have carefully predetermined to provide us with the greatest emotional return.
For example, suppose you had such a list, and #1 on your list was "Find a flexible job that is less stressful and allows for creative self-expression."
If that were the actual case I would guess that you are spending a lot of your time stressed out about your present job. And of course, one of the ways to temporarily escape that feeling is to do something nice for yourself -- like buy a new inanimate object.
However, because you have a prioritized list you quickly recognize that, while the new inanimate object might offer a temporary escape from the discomfort created by your present job, it does nothing to eliminate the root cause of the discomfort. Therefore, you say "no" to the purchase of the inanimate object and direct those time and financial savings toward discovering and pursuing a less stressful, more self-fulfilling career.
Unfortunately, most people don't have such a list, leaving corporate America free to make billions of dollars off of people who are forgoing what would truly make them happy, for the sake of small temporary escapes from what is making them the most unhappy.
What Are Your Top Three Financial Life Changers?
If you are having difficulty cutting out wasteful spending I encourage you to take some time to develop a list of things and/or life changes that you believe would lead to the greatest net-increase in your day-to-day happiness. Then prioritize the list from most important to least important.
If it helps, the top three things on my initial list were as follows:
- Discover and pursue an income source that allows for creative self-expression.
- Become debt free.
- Reduce household expenses so I can accelerate debt payoff and be able to live within whatever means my newfound income source provides.
In my case it took 5-years to achieve my number one priority, but once I did the rest began to fall into place almost automatically. After all, once you find a work that you enjoy and that helps others to solve a problem that's important to you, there's no longer much need for temporary escapes.