The danger with end-of-season sales is precisely that – they are sales. It’s very tempting to buy items on sale simply because they are on sale, we all know that. I can’t quite decide if I love sales or if I hate them. Yes, I love bargains! I love buying things for less than what they normally cost. On the other hand, I don’t like being tempted to buy things which I don’t really need or when I can’t afford to buy them.


But sales come and go, as regular as clockwork. Each end of season has its sales, and every start of a new season has its sales too. We are constantly surrounded by one sale or the other as there always seems to be a reason for sales! Just the other day I noticed a ‘Back to University’ sale probably only about a week after the ‘Back to School’ sale had finished! Next up are Valentine’s Day specials and sales.


We can’t avoid sales. We love them – we hate them – but who doesn’t love a good bargain. I think that’s what’s so attractive about sales: we instinctively want to save money. But, shopping the sales, especially end-of-season sales, can be quite costly if you haven’t planned or budgeted for this sale or if you don’t have specific items on a shopping list.


Before I buy anything on a sale, this is what I ask myself which helps me make an informed decision and one that will indeed save me some cash.


Do I really need more shoes/shirts/socks/jeans, etc.? Or do I have enough?


This is probably the first question that comes to mind if I’ve come across a sale for which I hadn’t planned to shop. It can be hard to resist a good bargain sometimes but then again, knowing when you have enough of an item, for example shoes, should help curb your impulse to buy. Ask yourself: do I really need more or am I buying this item just because it’s on sale? I’ve never been much of a shopper but I have at times bought a bit more than I should have so it’s a familiar feeling.


As a general rule, I like to wait for items to go on sale, and especially end-of-season sales, to buy items which I need or which I know I will need to use next season. The end-of-season sale can sometimes be the best time to buy jerseys or winter pyjamas or sandals to wear to work or the patio set you’ve been saving for. Anything, really. I’m all for taking advantage of sales to buy items that I genuinely need or have planned and budgeted for.


How much does this item ordinarily cost? How much will I really save?


Sometimes an item on sale is not that much cheaper. In that case, are you really saving or spending your money by paying almost as much as the actual retail price? If you find an item for 50% or 60% off, and you genuinely need that item, then I would agree that it is a good bargain. If an item is reduced by 20% or even 30%, and you don’t really need it then it’s not really a bargain, to my mind.


Items which are reduced by very little are very tempting though. Sometimes it’s an item which I know I will need, say in the next couple of months. What do I do in that case? I really think twice before buying it, especially if it’s not budgeted for and I don’t want the purchase to mess up my budget for that month. I also don’t want to fall prey to advertising gimmicks that tend to increase sales and revenue but tempt me to spend my money that could otherwise be put to better use elsewhere.


As a general rule, if I’m thinking about buying an item on sale, I always check the original price on the item, especially a garment. By the same token, I’m generally very suspicious of items that don’t carry the original price, only the reduced price in which case, I’ll generally just put the item back on the shelf straightaway! Otherwise, how would I know for sure how much I’m saving when I can only see how much I’m actually spending?


Do I have spare ‘fun’ money in my budget this month?


We have sales all year round, and end-of-season sales or holiday sales are just as predictable. This means that you can budget for a sale. If you need an item that you think might just come up in the end-of-season sale then plan for it. If you’ve just come across a sale that you haven’t planned for then ask yourself: Can I spend within my budget? If the answer is No then it’s probably best to avoid the shopping malls altogether so you won’t be tempted to buy.


Sales are great if you can afford them. If you’re a bit short of money then ask yourself: Do I really want to use my credit card for this? Even with the best of intentions of ‘paying it off’ in full when you get paid, inevitably, something else will come up and you will more than likely end up using that money to pay bills or some unplanned emergency expense that you can’t avoid. And the balance will then just sit there, accruing interest, and by continuing to pay interest you will have lost the savings you were meant to have made in the first place.


Do you tend to shop the ‘end-of-season’ sales? What tips do you have for making the most of sales? Please leave me a comment below.


If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, please share it with others!

You can also find Frugal in SA

on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or subscribe to my Weekly Newsletter.