So you want to find out where and how to get discounts, because let’s face it, we all love a good bargain. It can be superb to stand at the tills and pay a fraction of the amount of what something normally costs. You could end up feeling really good about your ability to find a great bargain and about how effective your shopping skills are. But are bargains really that challenging to find? Or are they easy to spot? And how much work goes into bargain hunting in the first place?
Shopping For Bargains: Is It Worth Doing?
Let’s ask a few questions and see the benefits as well as the costs of bargain shopping. Is there any justification at all for paying retail, or should you shop for discounts till you drop? Let’s find out when it makes sense to chase down a sale.
Is it always cost effective?
Many times, we don’t think about how cost effective bargain hunting can be. Let’s take the price of gas for example. It would be very tempting to check out all the gas stations in your neighborhood to see which one offers the lowest price. But if you head out to that gas station to fill up, it could be further away than your nearest gas station. This means that you would end up burning more fuel to get there than you would save in filling up at the nearer location, in the first place. In this situation, the bargain is really an empty one, since it has cost you more to go and pursue it, than to go for the closer choice with the higher price per gallon.
What about food?
The same applies to grocery deals. If you are on a strict budget, you probably head out to all kinds of locations to get the cheapest food items and the best deals that are available. This is a good strategy in theory because you can get all your food at the lowest prices. But once again, you have to think about the cost of bargain hunting. You will spend more in gas to get to different locations –- and there is always the possibility that you could be tempted to spend more on items you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
Time is money.
Time is another factor worth considering. Everyone’s time is precious and there comes a point when consuming a lot of this limited resource to look for the best possible bargain you can find becomes counterproductive. Suppose you work for yourself and you value your time at $30 an hour (as an example). Now as a simplified example, let’s say you want to buy something that normally retails for $30. Your research has revealed that there is another store on the other side of town that sells it ten dollars cheaper. The only problem is that by the time you get there, find a parking space, enter the store, buy it and return home again, you will end up spending an hour on the trip.
So to save $10, you have effectively given up $30, because you could have been working during this time. This is a form of opportunity cost. Of course, if you weren’t intending to work anyway, then it may not matter, but you can see how easy it is to let bargain hunting take over your life. It’s certainly a great idea and it can save you a lot of money, but in reality it can also cost you a considerable amount if you aren’t considering other priorities you have or how your activities and tasks fit into your life. It’s pretty important to see the big picture when you are watching your bottom line.
So the next time you head out to get some bargains, remember to keep things in check and to determine whether you can successfully find those deals efficiently and without spending too much time or money in the process. Or if it takes a good amount of time, make sure you planned for it and it was something you expected to do. Because we should not just budget our money but our time as well!
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