Saving 60% is good. Saving 100% is better.

“60% off everything today only!”

That’s one of those emails I know I shouldn’t even open. The Loft (my source for most of my work clothes and much of my normal attire too) regularly has 50 or 60 percent off deals, and I’m on their email list so I know when they happen. Generally, when I have a hole in my wardrobe, like when I recently needed to replace a pilled white t-shirt, I wait until I get one of those sale emails and then go see what’s available.

The danger is when there isn’t anything I need.

I like new clothes as much as the next girl, but right now I’m fairly set. I recently picked up some tank tops for summer, I have enough professional clothes to not wear the same three outfits over and over, I even replaced my bathing suit this summer (sadly, it was time to say goodbye to the one I bought in Europe four years ago).

But 60% off!

There’s a Loft within a few blocks of my work, I could pop over during my lunch break and just see if there was anything I loved. I can always use more cardigans, right? And I could get a $30 blouse for $12!

Companies know that sales and coupons do this to us. Maybe you had no intention of buying new sandals, but then they were buy-one-get-one-free – and who can turn down that deal? Or a coupon comes in the mail for $5 off pizza, and even though you never order pizza you kind of want to just to take advantage of the deal. A deal puts us in a scarcity mindset – “I need to buy this while I can!” – and we end up spending more than we would have otherwise. Corporations take advantage of this psychology (sometimes pricing things high just so they can mark them down) to get us to buy things we don’t need or even really want.

That’s not to say I hate sales. I love sales. I do a Google search for “[restaurant/store/auto shop] coupon code” before I go anywhere. I just hate sales that find me instead of vice versa. I try to use sales to get things I already would be buying for less, rather than to buy things I never would have considered at full price.

Next time you are looking at buying something on sale, ask yourself if you would be willing to pay full price for it (and are just excited that you don’t have to) or if you’re only buying it because it’s too good of a deal to pass up.

Getting a $60 dress for $24 would have been nice, but keeping the $24 in my pocket and wearing the dresses I already own is even better.

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