How to say “No” to good deals?

It’s getting increasingly hard not to step outside and see the perfect ad, touting exactly the product or service you want—not to mention, on sale! The temptation is simply too great not to give in. But if you want to save money, you need to start learning how to say no to deals and promotions.

In an increasingly globalised world, where products come from all parts of the planet, it is harder to escape from all the ads and promotions, since they’re not limited to temporary deals or one-day sales over the course of the year. It’s not uncommon to see supermarkets flashing 2+1 free signs, or travel agencies you’ve used in the past filling up your inbox with amazing offers.

Do I need this? The 72-hour trick

So you walk by a store window and there it is: the one product you need—and at half price! Great, right? But if you take the time to think about it rationally, you might realise that you just want it—but you don’t actually need it. It won’t solve any problems, and all it will help you do is save less money.

But faced with the deal, the temptation is quite intense. If you go into the store and pick up that item, you might end up buying something that you don’t need. Here’s where the 72-hour trick comes into play.

The rule says: Once you happen upon one of those incredible deals that you just can’t pass up, wait at least 72 hours (three days) before buying it. For this to have the desired effect, put a note in your wallet with the name of the item or service as well as the price. Many times less than two days will go by before you get rid of the note, realising (rationally) that you don’t need it.

Doing your research

Those 2+1 free sales, so common in supermarkets, tend to cloud your judgement, causing you to throw food into your cart leading to more waste than savings. Checking how much the same product costs in another store helps a lot.

When you want to save on the price of a video game, for example, it’s an easier purchase, since the price tends to stay pretty much the same regardless of where or when you buy it. But the supermarket can turn into a maze of prices. In these cases, your best tools are mobile apps like prixing. This application allows you, for example, to scan an item’s barcode and show you the prices in nearby stores.

Limited-time offers and other deals

“This deal expires in two hours!”
“Five people are looking at the same hotel room as you!”
“Only one seat left at this price!”

Sound familiar? These “hook” offers prey on a sense of urgency so that you buy on impulse without thinking about the points just mentioned: You don’t think about whether you really need it, nor do you give yourself time to check into the market. So you’re rushed into the purchase defenceless.

Likewise, in certain stores, when you buy something a limited-time offer will be generated for you. For example, by spending €30 today, you then get €5 to spend on a purchase of €20 or more within two months. This creates a sense of urgency and a false sense of need.

Practise saying NO

Practising saying no to salespeople or to deals gives you more time to evaluate whether you really need something or not.

This practise of saying no to needless deals is a key if you want to turn off the spending tap. But aside from those little tricks, here are several specific tips to help you avoid this type of unnecessary purchase:

  1. Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry (when you shop while hungry, you buy junk)
  2. 1.99 is basically 2, and 599 is basically 600 (the “9” effect)
  3. Ads try to sell, not help (the ad trap)
  4. Why our brains lie to us when we make economic decisions (the rewards versus risk scenario)
  5. Be careful with percentages !

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