With everybody interested in saving a buck (or 20) these days, "bargains," "sales," and "special money saving offers" are popping up everywhere.
Check your newspaper, smartphone, computer screen, or even the advertisements for cut-rate car insurance plastered on the toll booths on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I just saw those for the first time this past weekend.
Sure, there are a lot of true bargains out there. But the consumer landscape during these tough times is also rife with "deals" that can actually be false economies. Here's my Top 5 List of "bargains" to avoid.
1. Coupons for things you don't normally buy or need. "But I have a coupon..." If that's the number one reason you're putting something in your grocery cart that's not on your shopping list, you're probably wasting your money. There are plenty of simple ways to save money by using coupons without going overboard, like those discussed here.
2. Buying in bulk and then letting stuff go to waste. Buying jumbo-packs can often save you some serious money, but not if things spoil or go to waste. And I'm not just talking about perishable food items; remember that even things like batteries have a limited shelf life and your savings will turn into a loss if you keep them around too long. Check out these other tips for shopping in bulk at warehouse membership stores.
3. Confusing "price" with "value." Smart shoppers know that it's a mistake to shop based on price alone. Think of "Value" as "Price" divided by "Durability." So, if one new suit costs $100 (you can tell my fashion standards!) but is poorly made and will only last a couple of years, a suit costing $150 that will last twice as long is a better value... provided your waistline doesn't expand in the meantime.
4. Anything that "only costs a buck" is a good deal. Don't get me wrong: I think there are a lot of great values to be had at most "dollar stores," but that doesn't mean that everything you'll find there is true bargain. Check out these tips for dollar store deals/no deals.
5. Skimping on your health. "If you have your health, you have everything." We've heard it all our lives and it's true, both in terms of quality of life and your finances. Forsaking preventative measures, health check-ups, etc. to save a few dollars today is likely to cost you a lot more down the line. The good news is, it doesn't need to cost a lot to stay fit and eat healthy.
And always remember the wise words of writer Franklin Jones: "A bargain is something you can't use at a price you can't resist." Amen.
Photo by thejustifiedsinner via Flickr Creative Commons