By: Genna Jenkin
The Your Smart Money Moves Mom
Hello, my name is Genna and I am a sales-a-holic. I am in recovery, but everyday is a struggle. I believe my addiction is congenital as I come from a long line of bargain boasters and I am hoping it doesn’t present itself in any of my children. You know the types, they share legendary tales of high-end purchases made for next to nothing, often on items they didn’t really need. Our current culture totally feeds into this type of mentality. We are constantly bombarded by flash sales, daily deals and reality television showing us all of the ways we can beat the system and get what we want (and more) for a rock-bottom price. This, combined with wanting to provide our kids with all the things we didn’t have can make for a financial nightmare.
The operative word here is “want”. We have all heard the much debated argument of wants versus needs and the subjectivity of the terms. These are very complicated issues for grown-ups to grasp and trying to explain it to our children can be just as challenging. However, I believe it is human nature (or at least my nature) to make purchases based purely on desire rather than just basic necessity. Here is the missing link with this process. By delaying that gratification, even for just a day, you can spend your money much more wisely and still end up with your heart’s desire. It’s also a great lesson for your kids. If you can get them onboard to put in a little time upfront it will make it much easier to balance your budget with their seemingly endless requests.
- Go sampling, not shopping. Head out to the mall with a plan. Focus on a few of your/their favorite retailers and plan on spending a substantial amount of time trying on anything and everything, but DON’T MAKE ANY PURCHASES. This spree of sorts will give you a good idea of how the clothes/shoes fit, what size you need and the quality of the merchandise. I know its been recommended to develop a relationship with salespeople in hopes of getting advanced notice of sales, but there’s an easier way.
- Do your homework. This needn’t take a lot of time or effort, just make a mental note (or a literal one) of what you/they really loved and what worked and get on your computer/tablet/phone. By going online and placing these must-have items in the shopping cart you now just need to wait for the savings to start. Often by having a full-cart the savings offers will begin generating. Other times a holiday weekend or a slight change of season will prompt a sale online before it will in the store. Of course opening a credit card will always offer you some immediate savings, but it is the residual benefits that will really make sense if it is a store you frequent often. i.e. advance notice of sales, special promotions for card holders and points which can add up to rewards.
- Was it love or just lust? As with many things in life, sometimes that initial “rush” can subside and even totally fade. (Another great lesson to share with kids, especially the older ones!) This can be especially true when we are in the midst of changing seasons and we are so sick of our tees and flip-flops that we drool over sweaters and boots even though we don’t really need them yet. Remind kids that when they return to school in August they will still be sporting their summer wardrobe and there is plenty of time to purchase those cooler weather items. So give it some time and go back and visit your items online to see if they still have that wow-factor that initially attracted you or if was it just the novelty and desire for something new. Continue to check in not only for sales and/or free shipping and returns, but to see if any reviews have been written to give you a better idea of how the merchandise may wash and wear which is vital to parents when buying for their kids.
Remember the goal of getting a discount should be to marry a good price with a smart purchase, so give the waiting game a try and see if it works for you and your kids.