We all like sales. That’s a universal for humans as a race. If there’s a way to save money while also getting to scratch that primeval itch of the hunt, then we’re there. Even when it comes to something as simple as groceries, we strategize and plan and try to wring every last cent out of every sale or bargain we can find.
Unfortunately, not every sale is worth it. Sometimes this is intentional on the part of companies to take advantage of us, but sometimes it’s just because certain sales don’t make sense for everybody. But how do you know if a sale isn’t worth it for you, and whether they could actually cost you more money in the long run? Here’s 5 instances where a bargain may not be what it seems.
This is probably the most common way to lose money with sales. It’s what happens when the cart comes before the horse, and you’re more worried about getting a good deal than getting what you actually need. Half off a turkey maybe a great deal, but it’ll just cost you money if you’re vegetarian to begin with. And while not all examples are that extreme, you should always think about whether the sale item you’re about to buy is actually something you’re going to use.
For some reason, toiletries as a category tend to have a deep divide in quality between expensive and cheap brands. No matter how good a sale you find a cheaper shampoo brand at, the bargain brands will invariably contain more chemicals and harmful ingredients, including paraben, sulfates and phthalates. All of these ingredients can strip and damage your follicles, leaving your hair dull and lifeless and you wishing you had spent a little more money for a lot more quality.
This is a really common tactic stores, brands, and companies use to make easy money off you. They’ll put an item on sale for a legitimately discounted sale price to lure people to a retailer, but know that most people once they’re in the store will spend money on other things just by virtue of already being there, and may actually end up forgoing the sale to buy a better version of the item they were looking for. Don’t let this be you.
Buying in bulk can often be a good way of saving money for items you know you’re going to eventually get to. Fruits and vegetables are exceptions to that rule, though. Why? Because unlike many other foods, fruits and vegetables only have a limited window where they’re ripe and at their best. Even if you refrigerate them, it’s just a matter of days before they go bad, and when you’re buying in bulk you may find yourself throwing out more than you eat.
This last point is a little different from the others in that it takes a look at your financial position as a whole. If you’re already in debt or relying on car title loans or other forms of short-term lending to get along, then your first priority should always be paying them back. The interest rate from one of those will always outpace whatever savings you might get from buying in bulk.