How to save when you’re shopping

A young mother was telling me about ‘how much money she had saved’ when she was out on a recent shopping trip. It sounded great. She and a girlfriend had spent several hours in the shopping centre looking for bargains – and they’d found heaps…

The first shop they visited was a well-known clothing store that was having a 50% discount sale on all items. Both of them spent $120 on clothing which, if there hadn’t been a sale at the time they were shopping, would have cost $240. Happily, she told me that they’d been able to buy all the items they wanted for half of the usual price.

Then, they visited a shoe store that was also having a sale and each purchased a new pair of shoes for 25% off the usual price. Of course, no outfit is complete without the right accessories, so the next stop was at the jewellers where they also were offering 10% off all their earrings and bracelets.

By this time, they’d tried on everything they’d looked at, bought their ‘to-die-for’ items at ‘bargain prices’ and were ready for lunch. The local bistro was offering a special price for a glass of wine and a salad and it was the obvious choice for this pair of ‘money-saving queens’.

Of course, I was suitably impressed and asked just exactly how much they’d saved in dollar terms. With a pencil and paper she worked it out for me… $120 saved in the clothing store; $30 from the shoe shop and $12 at the jewellers. Add on the $7 saved on the lunch deal and it came to a grand total of $162 saved.

When I asked which bank account the money was going in to, my young friend looked puzzled. She didn’t understand what I meant. But maybe I didn’t understand what she meant. Because you see, when she told me that she’d saved a heap of money I believed that she’d been able to make all of these purchases and then put the money she’d saved into her savings account.

But that wasn’t the case at all. My friend had only managed to avoid paying the full price for her items. She hadn’t actually saved any money at all.

In fact, the advertising and marketing were so good in making her believe that she was saving money that she spent more than she would have if she’d put the first lot of “savings” into the bank. And all the time she was certain that she was ‘saving money’.

And therein lays a problem…

So many people believe that if they buy an item at a discounted price then they are saving money. But unless they put the actual monetary difference between the usual price and the discount price into a savings account, then they’re not saving anything. They’re just not paying full price.

I guess a lot of this has to do with terminology and the stories that we tell ourselves. With the help of todays’ clever marketing strategies, we can convince ourselves that if we pay $50 less for an item then we are saving money.

This is possibly the reason why todays’ society seems to equate the word saving to mean ‘discount’. And if the word discount means to reduce, then is it any wonder that our savings accounts are dwindling?

And that’s just another reason why our budgets are up the proverbial creek without a paddle!


Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions, you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)



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