Posted by Joani
Okay my deal seeking friends, it is time for a personal post. Something I do not do often and am going to make an effort to indulge in more. I've come to believe it's important for you to get to know the people behind the keyboard and our thought process. In the past I've called these Freak-out Friday posts and that seems appropriate for this one. So like it, or leave it, here's my food for thought for the day.
Last week I read a comment, on a deal blog posting, of an extremely popular money saving website. The reader stated that she had just made her 3rd purchase that day and she needed to get off the site because she was spending too much. The conversation continued with others agreeing, chuckling about it and thanking the blogger, by name, for the great deal find. To which the blogger offered her the standard “you're very welcome” and continued with the next deal posting.
Being in the deal blog business (more here), I have come to know a few of the blog owners personally and, I happen to know, that over 80% off the time, the posts on this particular blog, are written by someone other than the perceived blogger. One only need to visit their official feed to tell. Does it matter? I guess that depends on the perspective of the customer; who, did after all, make 3 purchases that day and, by her own admission, was spending too much because of the blogs recommendation. Or, was the post meant as information? Once again, it's the readers perspective.
It was this one innocent comment, from a blog reader, who thought she was thanking someone, by name, someone that probably never saw her comment; that left me considering, are deal blogs really helping people save money or, is the reverse more accurate? Are we encouraging them to spend money for our personal gain, under the disguise of being helpful? Being a deal blog, I found this question unsettling.
My personal goal has always been to help families live better with the money they have. I'm sure there are many deal bloggers out there that have the same heart felt mission. Heck, I know a couple of them. Are we trying to accomplish our goal the wrong way?
Run!… Hurry!… Go Now!…
Are you the type to impulse buy? A survey done by CreditCards.com says that 3 out of 4 of us are. And, that we are likely to buy impulsively when we are excited, bored, angry, sad and, interestingly, drunk. Do you get excited when you see a blogger, one that you feel you know, post a hot deal with the words “Run!, Hurry!, Go Now!?” Do you read deal blogs when you are bored? Perhaps after the kids go to bed while sipping a glass of wine? Have you made a purchase, that you would not have otherwise, while reading one? Do you feel like you know the blogger and you are shopping with a friend?
I have; from the above mentioned blogger in fact, and I rarely make an unplanned purchase. This is probably the reason I began to question the helpfulness of all deal blogs, including Coupons4Utah, irregardless of the bloggers intentions.
If you've been with me long, you know this website was not started for the typical reasons we often hear deal bloggers give. I don't have a spending problem, I'm not striving to be a stay at home mom, I had no need to become accountable for my spending, my husband did not lose his job.
In fact, all are quite the opposite, I started the website for a selfish reason, to bond and connect with my adult, tech minded son while recovering from a rather serious injury. I thought that helping Utah families find bargains, relative to our population, was a good subject and one I know a little something about and the distraction of the keyboard gave me something to do while healing.
Over six years ago, at it's beginning, I never imagined this website would last for more than a few months. When my boy no longer had time to, “play with his mom's little website” and I was healed, I thought I would end it and I did, with some regret. It was reader emails that brought it back (more here).
Those very emails and many that have followed are what compelled me to make it my mission to help families save money. But, as the bargain and deal sites have gotten bigger, more competitive, with less emphasis on saving and more emphasis on spending it, I question if the website has lost it's value. It's a question I've wrestled with often since my mother's passing. Quite frankly, if it has outgrown it's usefulness, I'd rather be exploring our great state, than tap, tap tapping away on my keyboard, in the wee hours of the morning.
Are you spending money impulsively because it's a bargain? You are not alone, most of us have been there. So today, I've decided to offer a little frugal wisdom that has helped me over the years. Hopefully it will help someone else from having buyers remorse. Whenever I feel I might be making an impulsive purchase, before I hit “complete purchase” I ask myself some simple questions.
#1 – Do I need this right now? The keyword is now. If the answer is no, then, write down what the item is, or save it to your favorites and start watching for a better price, challenge yourself to find one. Chances are, when do, you'll wonder why you wanted it in the first place.
#2 – Am I buying this with a sense of urgency? It's an easy trap for bargain hunters to fall into. We pride ourselves in the bargain, like a hunter in the woods waiting for that one perfect shot. Are you putting to much emphasis on getting the deal rather than purchasing something you need? Have you researched that it is a great price? Had you considered buying it before it was suggested by the deal blogger? If not, you're likely going to feel regret.
#3 – Will I get use out of it? If it's clothing ask yourself if it goes with things you already have. If it's a household item consider if you have a place for it, what are the reviews? Will you really use it? Do you really want it?
#4 – How will I pay for it? This is the most important question, especially if you are breaking out a credit card. Are you going to give up something else to have it? Eating out or entertainment money are options. Have you saved for it. Or, is it going to create debt? If you're going into debt for a deal, you could end up paying double or more for the item. Um, paying double, that's not a deal to brag about.
Right after Labor Day, online stores are going to start their “Better than Black Friday” deals and this will be the BEST time to get your Christmas shopping done and DONE. But, these next few months can also stimulate a lot of impulsive buying and, just like the merchants that pay them, deal bloggers know this.
My intention is not to stop you from buying the items you need and are looking for. Many deal bloggers are very good at spotting a bargain. But, if you feel yourself feeling hesitant or rushed, before you “Run.. Hurry… and Go Now…, take the time to consider the questions above. A little secret… we deal bloggers have a saying:
“There's always a deal for that”.
Yes, I'm aware, this is a deal blog … ironic isn't it?
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”
—Will Rogers 1879-1935
Impulse buying related articles:
12 Ways to Avoid Impulse Buying – AARP
Debt addiction: Red is not the new black – CNBC
Shopping Addiction – You're kidding right? – KSL.com
Confessions of a spendaholic – and how I turned my life around – The Guardian