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How to tell if an online sale is really saving you money

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The rise of e-commerce has brought about opportunities for constant sales and pitches to customers. Think about Black Friday—an event which used to be concentrated to the day after Thanksgiving now boasts sales beginning as early as October.

Swimming in a sea of never ending “deals”, how can consumers actually know if they are getting a bargain or if they’re being scammed? For many, it’s not easy to discern, and with shopping opportunities readily available at our fingertips, it can be easy to spend more money than you have if you don’t keep your habits in check.

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Are you saving money when you shop sales?

In this article, we will uncover some of the ways you can tell if you are saving money through a sale with online retailers, and some tools you can use to find deals. So, when confronted with a sale, the best guideline is to ask yourself the following three questions:

Was I going to buy this anyway?

If you were looking for an item and had planned to buy it anyway, it's definitely better to find it on sale, as you will be saving a percentage of the money you'd planned to spend. However, it’s important to avoid an impulsive buy, where you see an item on sale that you wouldn’t have bought at full price, and then decide to buy it because of the perceived opportunity of the sale. This behavior can lead to overspending, especially in a world full of endless sales.

Can I pay for it in full?

If you need to finance the item or charge it to a credit card, and don’t plan to pay the bill in full and on time, then you shouldn’t be making the purchase. In this situation, if you are taking on debt, the purchase is actively harming your financial well-being and you should instead just wait until you have more money saved up in the future or skip it altogether.

Am I using money that I have available to freely spend?

If you are spending a portion of your extra money, that is usually not harmful. Avoid using savings for a spontaneous sales purchase, or spending money that you had planned to put aside into a savings, retirement, or investment fund which would better serve you in the long term.

How to find better sales and avoid scams

Once you have answered the above questions, or if you are looking for a specific item you need and want to find the best deal out there, you can use the following tools in your search.

  • To find sales: Use a price tracker like slickdeals.net or Honey which allow you to pool from various discount sources to find the best price online.
  • To avoid scams: Verify deals and items you find online using FakeSpot, a Chrome extension that uses AI to weed out bad sellers and help you save money.

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Kim Miller

About the author

Kim Miller is the Head of Consumer Marketing at Mulberry. She is passionate about building products and brands that make consumers happy, save them money and make their lives easier. Have an innovative idea for Mulberry you'd like to share? Give her a shout! She'd love to chat about anything from fintech and UX to gardening and antiquing.

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