“They are better at this game than you are!”
I read that line in a book about finance. It was referring to marketers. If you read my budgeting blog HERE, you know I’m a sucker for sales, but participating is said sales always blows my budget. What’s a girl to do?
When I read the above line, I think a light bulb turned on in my head. I saw the light. Halleluia!
Marketers are a smart bunch. They know me emotionally, psychologically, and financially. They’ve studied me and my spending habits. They actually have a degree in ME. And what do I have? A desire to get the best deal possible. If they can manipulate the numbers to make it look like I’m getting the best deal, and I fall prey to their shenanigans, they win every time.
I’m not only talking about shopping, stores, and budgets. I’m talking about big things too, like car leases and home equity loans. Coupons, convenient ATMs, cash back, loans, refinancing, etc. are all a shell game. The deck is stacked against you and the house always wins. The only way to win is to NOT play. I’m not saying don’t clip that coupon for Tide Laundry Detergent, but maybe I am. You have to investigate FIRST and not take a sale at face value, and who the hell has the time to do this?
Tide Laundry Detergent 50 oz size (32 loads)
Drug store $11.99. Target $10.99. Kroger $7.99. Walmart $7.49. We don’t need a special deal, a minimum purchase, or a coupon for any of these prices.
I regularly shop at Kroger so it would probably cost me an extra $0.50 in gas to drive a couple miles down the road to Walmart just to pick up laundry soap, although I’ve been known to do things like that for a sale. But what is that extra twenty minutes of my time worth?
The local drug store’s price included a sale – buy one, get one 50% off. That means if you buy two, you’re not paying $11.99 each. You’re paying closer to the price at the other stores. The total price would be $17.89 for 100 oz. Of course you’re going to use it eventually and you’re already here, right? 100 oz at Target would be $21.89, so this must be a great deal.
Target has a sign on the shelf that says you can save $1.00 AND get free shipping if you buy it online. $9.99? Good deal! Who wouldn’t want laundry soap delivered directly to their house? Once you look at the website, however, you find the deal is “with a $50 purchase.” Ugh. I can spend $50 to save $1. Really?
I don’t want to drive down to Walmart, I don’t need two bottles from the drug store, and I’m not buying $50 worth of crap from Target, so I opted for the Kroger price. I googled “Tide coupons” and found a printable $0.75 coupon. My laundry soap costed me $7.24 with no hassles. If you would have chosen the drug store’s sale at $17.89 for two, you would have been screwed. You could have bought two bottles with two coupons at Kroger for $14.58 or at Walmart for $13.58.
Anyway, the bottom line (pun intended) is that it’s all a game to the marketers. You’re going to lose unless you invest hours and hours deciphering the real price of a sale compared with other real prices of other sales. I know some people are coupon crazy and can rock this, but I just don’t have that kind of time. Keep in mind, the people who can rock this are stockpiling, not budgeting. They are two different things.
I needed Tide and my budget was $10. I got it for $7.24. Good for me! Once I realized the marketers are so much better at this game than I am, I refuse to play anymore!