Let’s push pause for a minute, okay?
Every other post you read on this blog today is going to be filled with deals. Great deals. In many cases, the best deals I’ve seen on a particular item in a year or longer — and quite possibly even ever.
Finding those deals is a big part of what I do here at KOAB. It’s kind of my job – as weird of a job as that is!
I realize that it’s NOT my job to manage your personal finances, but if I could just put on another hat for a second and say this aloud: You all know that no matter how great the deal is, it’s never a bargain if you can’t afford it, right?
The blog has been hopping lately and the pace is only going to increase over the next week. There are going to be dozens of deals posted everyday.
But just because they’re posted doesn’t mean you have to do them! Heck, you probably shouldn’t even open 90% of them! KOAB has 100,000+ people reading the blog every month (isn’t that nuts?).
I have all of those readers in mind when I’m deal sleuthing. I’ve gotten over 150 requests in the last month to find deals on particular items – and some of those may be relevant to your life, but many of them won’t speak to you at all!
That said, I know how intoxicating all these deals can be. It can mess with your brain chemistry (seriously, I’m sure there are studies on this – it’s why stores make big, flashing signs and put together pretty end caps.)
When the sheer volume of GREAT DEAL alerts gets overwhelming, can I share a recommendation taken from my own personal playbook? Take a deep breath and ask yourself my FOUR QUESTIONS FOR KEEPING MY BUDGET IN CHECK. (Not for nothing, the following four questions are one of the keys to my husband and me staying out of debt for the past seven years!)
#1. Was I planning to purchase this item anyway?
Impulse purchases aren’t necessarily wrong. I may not have been planning to buy something, but when I see it, I remember — oh yeah, we’re out of ____, and this is a great price, so I’d better pick it up. But impulse shopping can often be a red flag to something else going on — and it’s a good thing to be in touch with that BEFORE the credit card comes out.
#2. Do I have the money in my budget to pay for it?
Whether a purchase was planned or not (#1), I still need to make sure I have the money to pay for it. And not just that the money is in my bank account, but that it’s BUDGETED. You see, just because I have $2000 in my checking account, doesn’t mean I have $2000 to blow on a big screen TV. That two grand may have already been budgeted for other purposes (in fact, it probably was) – since we spend & save all of our money on paper at the beginning of each month.
#3. Can I make do or do without?
Even if there’s a real need, that doesn’t mean I *have* to make a purchase to fill that need. Sometimes I can make do with what we already have, or even do without for a while — especially when money is tight.
#4. If I decide to make the purchase, am I getting the very best price I can?
#4 is where I come in. And this time of the year? No doubt about it – there are some of the very best prices we’ll see all year. But these aren’t the only deals we’ll see all year; long-time readers of KOAB know that there are still plenty of bargains in February and May and September. So if the money isn’t there right now, it’s okay to wait – when the money IS there, you’ll still be able to find a deal. And then that purchase will be blessing rather than a curse.
By the way, in case you’re wondering, I don’t ask myself these questions with every purchase. If I’m out picking up a gallon of milk or a pound of ground beef, I just assume it’s a need, that I can’t make do or do without — and yes, the money has been budgeted. But if/when I feel an impulse purchase coming on, these four questions keep me honest!
And if all else fails, it also helps to remind myself that while THINGS can make our lives better, easier, prettier or even more fun, it’s the people we love and experiences we share with them that are truly the best “deals” around!