Sometimes, spending money to save money works. It worked for my husband, who recently became an AAA member and then proceeded to enjoy discounts when booking travel – discounts that have already paid back the membership and then some.
It can work when you’re serious about couponing and are buying the Sunday paper mostly for the coupons, or when you invest in energy or water saving tools such as a low-flow shower head.
I’m sure there are other cases where you can spend money in order to ultimately save more than you had spent, but this is not one of them:
While the offer from Coach is to get a 33% discount, no doubt a nice discount, the catch is that I must spend at least $300 to get that discount. So, essentially, the offer translates to, “Come to our store and spend $200 on something that you absolutely don’t need.”
Um, I think I’ll pass.
Now, if I needed a handbag right now, that would have been an intriguing offer for me. But I don’t need a handbag, and as these offers are always very limited in time, the idea is not to give you a nice discount when you’ll eventually need to buy something. Rather, the idea is to get you to the store and get you spending NOW.
David’s Note: Some people may even end up spending more EVEN IF they happen to be shopping for a handbag. For example, let’s say I’m shopping for a handbag for my wife, and my budget is $150. Now, I see this invitation on the kitchen counter, and I jump in joy because the timing was perfect. 33% off for a Coach bag! I head to the store and buy that $300 bag, and with the discount, pay only $200. I leave happy, but I totally forget that I just spent $50 more than I thought I would have…
Look. Especially when it comes to fashion, you often get what you pay for because higher priced items tend to be trendier, made with higher quality material and with higher quality workmanship. But on the other hand, spending $200 isn’t the same as $150 either. What you end up deciding is completely at your discretion, but do make a conscious choice by deciding whether it’s worth your hard earned money.
This offer is a powerful example because of the amounts we’re talking here ($300 is a lot of money), but there are lots of other cases where brands try to lure you into spending on something you don’t need with the promise of a discount or a gift. One example is the gift card I received from Bloomingdale’s during my birthday month. My excitement at a $100 gift card quickly turned into disappointment when I read the fine print: “Valid toward almost any fine jewelry purchase of $500 or more on your Bloomingdale’s card.”
Another example is the “Gift with Purchase” offered by cosmetics brands. For years I was a sucker for these offers – colorful cosmetics bags filled with tiny samples of makeup, lotions and potions – it doesn’t get much better than that! BUT to get the gift you usually need to spend $35 on products that you don’t necessarily need, and of course, even if you do have a product of that company that you would buy anyway, you almost always have to buy 2 to actually qualify for the gift, since one is just under the minimum purchase required, so you end up paying well over the minimum needed to get the gift.
Then, when you open the gift, you realize that all the samples are the wrong color or completely wrong for your complexion, and you end up tossing most of them. Some deal, huh?
As a recovering shopaholic, I’m hardly immune to these sales tactics. In fact I find them extremely alluring, so much so that I actually considered, albeit briefly, the offer from Coach. But I am determined to stop falling for these pitches, and I am proud to say that it’s been a while since I have – at least a year.
How do you feel about the concept of spending money to save money?