I was walking home from an appointment when the sign in the window grabbed me: 40 per cent off all wine. The gourmet grocery store was having a going-out-of-business sale, which meant all the items I usually deemed were too expensive for my everyday existence suddenly seemed within reach. Including the wine.
I lingered outside that window for a few minutes, debating whether to pick out a few bottles. The discounts didn’t stop there, either. I could get all sorts of ingredients I wouldn’t normally buy, also for 40% off.
Eventually, I talked myself down from the perfect charcuterie night with one simple question: Would I rather save 40 per cent on wine and cheese, or would I rather save 100 per cent by buying nothing at all?
The imaginary maths was easy: I wanted the money in my wallet more than I wanted the discount groceries.
Sure, you don’t get the thing you’re eyeing when you employ this money saving trick. But that’s actually another benefit of the strategy—it stops you from buying something for the sake of buying and the thrill of getting a discount.
Thinking about 100 per cent rather than whatever the sale tag says has saved my budget several times since that first day in front of the grocery store. When I contemplated buying a trendy top on sale at a boutique, for instance, I asked myself if I’d rather have the discount or have all my money. I wanted the money.
Ever clicked through a website’s sale section just to see if there’s anything good? If you feel compelled to get something because it’s 60 per cent off, thinking about 100 per cent can give you a moment to reset before hitting that “place order” button. “Would I rather save 60 per cent on this item, or save 100 per cent by not buying anything?” can remind you that maybe the reason that item is on sale is because it’s poorly made, or in an ugly colour, or has bad reviews. Or, it may be similar to something you already have. Or, it may, even after the discount, be more expensive than you were planning to spend on an item of its type.
Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need to be a moth getting sucked toward the discount lightbulb. Because at the end of the day, you control 100 per cent of your wallet.