It’s True: I Only Shop On Sale

sale cloud
Now I KNOW some of you are with me on this one ;) I only just realized this the other day but MAN is it dead on.  I really truly only buy things that are on sale – excluding items that never get discounted like lottery tickets and for some reason bananas.

I don’t think I mean to do this, it’s just that not many things are truly WORTH the money to me. It’s actually pretty annoying…  Sometimes I wish I didn’t have that “bargain gene” that’s been passed down through generations and generations of thrift shoppers in my family.  I love getting good deals, don’t get me wrong, but my goodness is it hard to pull that cash away from me at times! (Like during my birthdays when family gives me money to do just that – SPEND. On me. The worst is having to make something up whenever my grandmother asks what I treated myself to with her money.  “It’s in the bank” just isn’t as exciting to her as it is me.  But I digress…)

My name is J$, and I only shop on sale. And as I’m sure you’re aware, there are some pros and some cons when it comes to this.  Let’s discuss a little, shall we?

The Pros of Only Sale Shopping

  • You get items at discount!
  • You can get MORE items because of the discount.
  • You feel that your hard work of sorting & picking pays off.
  • You have fewer places to pick through since sales sections are only a portion of the store ;)
  • If there’s no sale, there’s no spending!

The Cons of Only Sale Shopping

  • Way less variety.
  • You usually have to act quick.
  • Rarely are the newest styles/products on sale.
  • And as we’ve discussed, sometimes there is NOTHING on sale
  • You have to sort through the crap to find the golden nuggets!
  • You *sometimes* buy something BECAUSE it is on sale, not because you actually want it.  (well, I don’t do this all that much but I know $hit tons of friends who do.  The whole “well it WAS $600 and I got it for only $400!”)
  • You may or may not feel cheap brushing through all the “good stuff” in order to get to the sales stuff way in the back ;)

Now, it’s not to say I don’t ever slip up and go a little overboard at times (*ahem* on my $500+ bling watch, or my $40 bling water), but in general if it’s not on sale I ain’t buyin’. I don’t know if that makes me cheap, or frugal, but it does make me ME.  And that’s how I’m rollin’ these days…

(photo by Ivan Walsh)

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  1. Jeff @ sustainablelifeblog May 11, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    I am sure that some people have never heard the saying that I’ve heard, but it goes something like
    “Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need it”

    I also only usually buy things on sale, unless I know i’m going to need an item in the future.

  2. Karmella May 11, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    I’m pretty good about only buying on sale (and banking birthday cash!!) – I just have to watch what I’m buying and keep myself in check, because sometimes I do use “oh, it’s on *sale*!” to rationalize… :)

  3. Impulse Magazine May 11, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    I always a purchase a good sale especially buy one get one free. When I see that, it is a definite go to buy the product

  4. Young Mogul May 11, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    I shop mainly when things are on sale because I shop mostly on the internet when I get sales in my email. Otherwise, I only shop when I need something. Then, I shop mainly at discount places, like Burlington Coat Factory. I vowed that I willl stop shopping during the season and start waiting until the end of season sales, then rack up for the next season in advance.

  5. Sense May 11, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    I only buy on sale, too. Like you, sometimes even a sale isn’t enough to get me to part ways with my money; there always seems to be a great reason to NOT buy it. Even if I genuinely need it! It is a sickness. I now keep a list of things that I want/need, and if it goes on sale, I feel ok about buying it. If it made the list, it’s because I’ve been thinking about it for a looonnng time.

    We have almost the same watch. ExBF gave me mine for Christmas one year; I picked it out off of Amazon. It was like $175 back then…

    good taste!

  6. Brandi May 11, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    No judgement from me! I think that makes you smart and financially saavy.

    Who wants to spend $50 on a pair of jeans only to find that had they waited 2 weeks they would have gone on sale and only been $25?

    I mean really :)

  7. Jenna May 11, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    I do the same thing, and I do have to make sure I’m focused enough to ask myself if I really want/need the item aside from the fact that it’s on sale, especially when it comes to clothing. (I still have some items in my closet that I bought on sale and have yet to be worn…) However, I mostly shop at outlet stores for clothes and even then usually buy from their sale section…with a coupon. I also take the same “sale” philosophy at the grocery store. I plan our meals around what items are on sale that week and use coupons (or buy store brand) whenever I can to get the lowest price. Unless I have an immediate need for something, chances are I can stand to wait for it to go on sale before I buy. My patience is usually rewarded!

  8. philip May 11, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    My problem with that is that I do not go into stores often enough to “shop” for the sale items. I just avoid the stores 99% of the time then I find out I need something even if I have looked the last couple times and not had it. I don’t feel like going to 20 stores trying to find the $10 item on sale for $8 and think I got a good deal.

    Guess if you are shopping often enough to find the deals it works. This is not to say that the first place I go is the sale/clearance area in the store, but usually don’t find anything I want.

  9. J. Money May 11, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    Oh yeah, forgot about online shopping….although now that I think about it almost every single thing I buy online is at some discount too ;) Esp since it’s so easy to Google our way to coupon codes and the like.

    @Sense – HOTNESS! That is exactly the same watch but for a young lady – we are accessory twins ;) And MAN do I sound metro right now…

  10. corrin May 11, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    I’m with you. I only shop when there’s a sale. My in-laws made a comment about what my husband and I have/are able to do, and my husband finally broke the news to them…we rarely pay full price for anything.

  11. FinEngr May 11, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    If its not on sale, you’ve got to make it on sale yourself!

    Online its easy with sites like retailmenot, couponcabin, and the likes

    In person its a little harder – but don’t rule out bartering or even simply asking!

  12. Jenn May 11, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    There is very little anyone needs that cannot be predicted in advance or that cannot wait a little longer. Either way you can get most of the real necessities of life on sale.

    I meal plan around the sales and what’s already on hand. When I am starting to run low on something I’ll add it to the grocery list with NU beside it – not urgent. This way if I find an unadvertised sale I’ll pick it up, otherwise it will remain on the list for the next week. If there is no sale by the time we actually run out I’ll even stall a couple of weeks longer if possible. I rarely have to resort to full price. This process works well for things that run out slowly (that big jar of peanut butter or giant can of coffee) but also works well for those who stockpile and notice an item is getting a little low.

    When my kids need an item replaced we go in order to: hand me downs from cousins, thrift store, consignment, and if all else fails eventually we resort to new but on sale. The only things we always buy new are underwear and shoes and we start looking for the sale well ahead of the item completely falling apart or getting too small. I figure paying full price for something is like a penalty for being disorganized or impatient.

    Every dollar I spend feels like a dollar taken from the travel budget. I’d give up most other things to fund the next adventure. Having a clear plan for every available dollar lets you see what that higher price is actually costing you. It’s easy to skip an assembly line fast food meal if you picture those dollars going instead to something you find more memorable or rewarding.

  13. craig May 11, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    What if it’s a good value? Just cause it’s full price doesn’t make it a bad value. I think it’s more about value than the actual price.

  14. myfinancialobjectives May 11, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    First of all, that watch is NICE, and I love buying watches. Watches and cologne, I could buy those two things every week.

    More on topic, I’m like 80% the same. Usually I will ONLY buy stuff when it is on sale. For instance, the only time I shop at GNC is during the first week of the month when Gold card members get 20% off everything they buy. Also, when I DO have to buy stuff that is not on sale, it’s usually by necessity only. I need something and I just happen to need it immediately meaning I can’t wait for it to go on sale.

  15. Favor May 11, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    I’m bad! I hardly never buy sale stuff…. unless I’m buying jeans. Since they generally start at $150+, getting them under 100 is good enough for me.

    But shirts/dresses…I buy what I see that I like. Maybe I do need to sale shop only. My mom does! And she’s always at Macy’s because they’re always sending her a sale coupon! I think it makes her shop more………hmmmm….

    I do shop on luxury sample sale sites…like,, etc… Does getting the Burberry boots for 100 instead of 200 count as a sale? I’m really not that bad, I only buy the items that I need from those sites. or that I’ve wanted for a long long time :)

  16. Donna Freedman May 11, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    A real frugalist just hates to pay retail. That’s why we scope out the “everyday low price” of things we need. Example: As you note, bananas never go on sale — but I know I can get them at the QFC supermarket or at the Asian market a couple of blocks away for 59 cents a pound.
    I don’t buy off-season fruit unless there’s a real loss-leader price. I just dried fruit or canned fruit. Or bananas.
    I never buy toiletries at retail; I wait for the sale-plus-rebate weeks and stock up.
    I’ve just started using cashback sites and am liking them a LOT.
    I rarely buy clothes but when I do they’re either from a clearance rack or a thrift store (think designer-label silk blouse for $3.99).
    And never would I buy something *just* because it’s on sale. If I don’t need it, why would I buy it?

  17. Stephan May 11, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    while i have no rules regarding purchasing only when there is a sale, i have found myself regularly goign through the sunday paper and looking for sales on items that i NEED, not want.

  18. Stella May 11, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    I do the same thing–as soon as I walk into a store, I make a beeline for the sale section. Especially when it comes to clothing, more often than not an item will get marked down mere weeks after it first comes on the sales floor, so why would anyone pay full price?

    I do have to remind myself that it’s not a good deal unless I actually get a good amount of use out of it.

  19. Donna May 12, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    I just have to say I always buy on sale because I waited for it! I no longer go “shopping” without a purpose (a real need). Retail therapy is dangerous for me. My name is Donna and I have a sale problem. So, I limit my trips, don’t shop to shop and buy only when needed at the best price I can get without wearing me out in the process.

  20. Mara May 12, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    i rarely shop anymore for things other than food or household necessities. when i do go into a decent clothing store, i head for the clearance rack in both the women’s and men’s departments. i love white shirts–tees and button-downs–fitted or oversized–and they do need replacing every now and again. a men’s small or medium often fits better than a women’s medium or large (i’ve got long arms) and is usually made better.

  21. Abigail May 12, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    First of all, bananas go on sale around me all the time. Must be a DC thing.

    But seriously, I am all for the sale shopping, but it’s really impossible to only ever shop sales. And impractical at times, as you’ve pointed out. You have less of a choice and you may make a rushed decision that you’ll regret.

    I think the big thing is also making sure you aren’t lured in by a “sale.” If you check the prices, a lot of “sales” are (on a big ticket item) $5-10 off. It’s not worth worrying about if I need to make a big purchase decision.

  22. J. Money May 14, 2010 at 11:06 PM

    I think you guys are smarter than me ;) I should probably bookmark this for future reference! haha…

  23. Broke by Choice May 17, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    Something I learned from my job in strategic sourcing…

    If it is on sale and it wasn’t something you intended to buy then it wasn’t a deal.
    It is only a deal if you it is something you were in the market to buy and it happen to be on sale.

  24. singsonn May 18, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    Sometimes, stores raise the price of items before they put them on sale… I saw that for sport shoes. They were usually around $100, when they did a sale, the regular price went up to $190 with a 50% rebate… Well, I don’t like that kind of business, and you better be careful when only shopping goods on sale. Businesses might start to figure out a lot of people are more incline to spend when SALE is on price tags…