With all the focus of getting “great deals” on all kinds of things over the Black Friday weekend, I’ve been thinking about one of the most important tenets of frugality: No matter how great of a deal something was, you still spent money. You used to have that money, and now it is gone forever. The most frugal action is to not spend ANY money.
Here is my example: I really really really really want The Sims 3: Pets game. (I know, I’m a nerd.) I was thrilled to see that this game was 50% off today through EA’s Origin, making it $19.99 (regular $39.99). Wow, that is a great deal, I’m thinking. I'm going to buy it! Then I’m thinking some more... in my budget this month, I certainly did NOT include $20 for a new video game for myself. As a matter of fact, I’m more than $30 over my grocery budget for the month, and besides that, Mr. Townie and I are taking our belated honeymoon trip in January and need to put any extra funds we’ve got towards that.
Sooo... even though finding the game that I have been wanting for months at half off is a great stroke of luck and it is a great deal, I made the most frugal choice and spent $0.00. This is not to say that I will forever be a martyr and never ever get a video game again. I’m looking at this as delayed gratification- maybe I will get this game for Christmas. Maybe I will get a giftcard for Christmas and buy the game. Maybe if I don’t get this game for Christmas, one of my friends will and I can borrow it. Maybe if I still haven’t gotten my hands on this game after we get home from our trip in January, I can use money we have leftover to buy it.
Here’s the thing- I don’t have to buy that game today. That game will be available for years to come- why don’t I wait to buy it until I have extra money (and time to play it, for that matter?) I’ll just let Origin hold on to my game for me until I’m ready. Maybe it won’t be on sale then- but here’s another thought: video games and many other electronic toys continually go down in price the older they get. It could very well be that by the time I buy this game, it will have come down in price to the “sale price” of today. Or maybe by then I can find a used copy for much less than the price of a new copy.
If I would have bought this game today, you might think I would have "saved" $20 because that's how much it was marked down. But really, I would have saved $0.00 and spent $19.99 that I could have kept. So today, I saved $19.99 and spent $0.00
Photo from http://www.sxc.hu/