Sales, 2-for-1 offers, large discounts, bulk purchases, and low sale prices excite us because it appears a good way to get more for our budget dollars. After all, we are buying items that we use. Right? So where is the harm? We need to be cautious because sales are only a good deal if we buy something that we truly value. A value purchase is something that fulfills an immediate and pressing need with an item that has a high confidence of success to fully meet that need.
Follow these five steps to learn how to differentiate if it is just a sale or something we value.
1. Is There Value in The Sale – What Is My Frequency of Use? Frequency of use is a good initial way to evaluate a sale’s value. Simply put, how much of a given product or service do you use in a week or a month? 30 rolls of toilet paper for a household of one or 30 rolls for a household of six. If it is going to take you 6+ months to use your purchase or you are adding a 3rd black ski jacket, then there are probably better uses for your money than this purchase.
2. Is There Value in the Sale – Is This a Respected Company and Product? A good company is well-run, honest to deal with, consistent in business practices, fair, and has great products that are fairly priced. We can easily point to great technology, computers, and recreational items that we know and admire. We all can also point to products and services that do not meet those high standards. Sales, large discounts, and special offers can potentially sway us to purchase items that are less high quality. Be sure to evaluate the quality of the company and product against the discount.
3. Is There Value in the Sale – Can I Return for a Full Refund? One of the easily identified hot buttons of a sale is if you cannot return the item for a full refund. Companies that do not have consistent return policies with lots of requirements, or different return policies for sales need to have extra caution exercised. What seems like a deal in the store may not seem like a deal once you get home and start to use the item. A simple, clear, and consistent return policy makes a sale purchase easier.
4. Is There Value in the Sale – Should I Put the Money to Other Use? Before a new purchase, it is always good to ask if I should use this money to pay down a debt or place it into a retirement or savings account. Long term, paying down debt, saving, and investing are by far your best long term steps to financial well-being, far better than any “deal” at a sale.
5. Is There Value in the Sale – When Is the Next Sale? Some sales are only offered one time a year. Other companies have sales every month. If the sale is offered frequently, then the deal or special price offered may not be the best “deal ever!” as advertised. Keep an eye out on prices, terms, and conditions of discounted and sales items to be sure that the offered sale price and items are really the great deals they state.
Sales, 2-for-1 offers, large discounts, bulk purchases, and low sale prices are a great benefit that many businesses offer, but select the business based on their quality, reputation, ethics, and the value they deliver. Do not be swayed by a sale that does not deliver the personal value you expect and make sure that purchase fits your long-term financial plans and is not just another purchase that does not lead to long-term value.
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Chad Storlie is the author of two books: Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and Battlefield to Business Success. Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. An adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University and Bellevue University in Omaha, NE. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces officer with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.
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