We see malls go on sale several times a year, and this much-awaited event go by different names too! There’s a Back to School Sale, Black Friday Sale, pre- and post-Christmas Sale, Inventory Sale, Clearance, Valentines Day Sale, and even a Rainy Day Sale. And it’s not hard to tell when there’s one going on because it’s often characterized by heavy traffic near the area. Though not a huge fan of going through the long queues at the counter just to enjoy a big discount, I probably would go if it meant buying something I really need or would need soon. However, I prefer to take shopping more responsibly, especially now that, as a wife and parent, I have a lot of financial priorities to consider.
Definitely, many people shop on impulse, especially when items are on sale. Just the sight of 20% to 50% markdowns can really make any ordinary individual with a soft heart for discounts forego albeit temporarily with their preset savings plan. For those who can afford to splurge cash on a designer bag or a new collection, I believe it is perfectly fine. But if you cannot afford it and instead would still have to borrow cash at interest to purchase something, I think there is a need to restrain oneself and make it a habit to pause and conscientiously ask if getting a particular purchase would be a wise thing to do.
I often look back on my youth and I could still remember how my mother have been so frugal. A Barbie is something that every girl probably wishes for, but in those days, my mother never gave in to my whims because life was hard and she wanted to save more for my future than for a toy that I will just outgrow eventually. I know I could never compare life then and now, because today our little boy easily gets his Legos just by doing a few good deeds and generally just by being a good boy. Back in the day, no amount of being a good girl could ever make Mom buy me a Barbie.
Yet, I don’t speak about this piece of memory out of hurt or spite. Thank God for grandmothers who spoil their grandkids! But really, in retrospect, I cannot say enough how much I appreciate my mom for instilling in me the value of delayed gratification. I remember how important it was then to work hard in school because I know that at the end of the year, I could pick whatever I want as a prize; and in parent-child relations, it was leverage. But because the sky was not the limit, I had to make sure it was really the best thing I wanted. It wasn’t like I had a budget to spend and I could choose anything that fit the bill. Rather I only got to choose one prize – a book, a CD, or a camera – and that’s it. Clearly, as parents, we are major influences to our kids, and the example we set potentially has a significant lifelong effect on them. If we care about them and how they manage on their own in the future, one way to show that is by being mindful of our shopping decisions.
As a grownup now, yes, there’s the mortgage, the utility bills, and the kids. Our family regularly sets aside something for our investments, and we also spend for financial protection. Definitely our cash flow is a bit crazy, yet we do travel regularly and spend good quality time with family. Any expense beyond that is discretionary, at best. Even though you get to enjoy a discount during a sale, you are still spending money. True, you get 25% discount, but you are actually shelling out the remaining 75%, which otherwise would have been savings. So, if something is not on your list, better hold your horses!