Smart Sale Strategy: Save your savings

I’ve always had issues with the word save whose dictionary definition includes “To spend less by (save 25 percent).” You see, I’ve always thought that advertisers were just being clever when they tell you that you can “save big money” by buying their products. In fact, “you can’t save money at a sale” is one of my go-to soundbites. Thankfully, a recent article in Self magazine taught me how you actually can save money at a sale. From the November issue:

Make your virtual savings real
If you buy a $100 jacket on sale at 50 percent off and pay $50, have you saved $50? Of course not. (But you already knew that, didn’t you?) Yet many people succumb to the notion that “a bargain ain’t a bargain unless you buy it,” as if the savings from a discount were as tangible as money spent, says Peter Tufano, Ph.D., professor of financial management at Harvard Business School in Boston. To make your savings concrete, jot down the amount of the discount—$25 off your new Flip cam, for instance—then transfer that money directly into your savings account. This time, you’ve truly saved $25.

I wish I had thought of that! (Actually, that is how I feel every time I read the work of MP Dunleavey.)

I read a lot of magazine articles about money saving tips, but this tip stood out for a number of reasons:

-You’ll think before you buy. It seems as though things look better when they’re on sale. A dress you would never consider for $100 might look very attractive at $30. (70% off seems to be my breaking point—I lose all perspective!) With this new savings strategy, you are still committing to $100, so you’re likely to view things more realistically.

-You’re rewarded twice. Getting a great deal on something you love can be rewarding, but the comfort of knowing that you have something set aside for emergencies is valuable too. By stashing your savings, you’ll get the best of both worlds.

-The New Year will be off to a great start. There is a sale for every occasion and the upcoming holiday season is no exception. By making your virtual savings real, shoppers won’t be able to help saving. If you have trouble sticking to your stashing, try imagining how great it will be to start the New Year with savings instead of debt.

Speaking of debt, I should mention that this savings strategy only works if you’ve got the money to spend and save. As a general rule, charges should not be put on a credit card unless the balance can be paid in full when the monthly statement comes in. Remember, financing purchases—even if they’re on sale—is rarely a bargain.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.