Smart Shopping: The Pros and Cons of Sales

Do you practice smart shopping? Who doesn’t love a good sale? I try to wait for sales before I buy clothes or big items, like luggage. Sometimes, though, the cutest outfit shows up on an email in my inbox and I just have to have it. Not smart, I know, because it will be on sale in a month. THAT’S when sales can save you money.

However, smart shopping means there are times to avoid sales, like when you don’t really need anything but that darn sale is so good you just can’t pass it up! (Hello, Black Friday! Am I right?)

Luckily, I’m getting better and better at buying clothes and other things strategically so I can save money. Let’s take a look at smart shopping and the pros and cons of sales.

Mannequins with sale signs

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When Shopping Sales Is a Good Idea

For the most part, you should only shop with a list, purchase what you planned and avoid last-minute purchases. That’s what a smart plus size nerd does, right?

Quilt square of Mrs. WeasleyHowever, sometimes special offers come along that blindside you and you’re not exactly prepared. If so, it’s okay to make that last-minute purchase for the special offer IF you can justify it realistically. There are several instances when stocking up during a sale makes total sense.

You Always Wanted That

This is my favorite reason to shop a sale. I highly encourage you to snag something that’s marked down if you’ve always wanted it, but you normally wouldn’t buy it. You’ll get the double high of wearing something you love and knowing you didn’t pay full price. But only buy this treasure if it’s not going to put you into debt and/or it’s on a super-special offer that will never happen again, like a last chance clearance.

You Have Cash

One key to big sales is to ensure that you have the cash to pay for it. That way you won’t be tempted to put your purchase on a high-interest credit card. You won’t have to worry about making a payment in 30 days, and it won’t hurt you if the money isn’t earmarked for something more important, like groceries or rent.

You Can Pay It Off in Six Months

This is the next best situation to having the cash for something. Buy something on sale if you have a credit card or credit line that offers six months with no interest. That way, when you end up seeing a special offer for something that’s on your wish list, and you are positive that you can pay those six payments on time without paying interest, go for it.

Smart shopping means you should be able to make your first payment on the day you make the purchase. If you can’t, ask yourself whether you can really make that first payment in 30 days.

It’s on Your List

Let’s say there’s something on your list that you’re actively saving money for and you’ve been looking high and low for it. Then you suddenly find that item on sale at a fantastic price, go ahead and make that purchase. You can always put something else off until later. And you’ll be satisfied knowing you didn’t pay full price.

Here are other kinds of purchases that you should snap up when they’re on sale.

Planned Last-Minute Trips

That might sound like an oxymoron, but you can plan for last-minute trips. Set a budget, and then the day before you plan to leave, look for last-minute deals. I know people who block out time for a trip without knowing where they’re going. Then, when they find a deal that’s almost too good to be true, they book it and they’re off on an adventure.

Map, laptop, cameras and someone's hands Look for deals on last-minute trips.


If any item that you normally use goes on an amazing sale, say 50% or more off, and you know you’re going to be buying it every month or so anyway, a big sale is the perfect time to stock up. Of course, you’ll pay more in one go than you would monthly, so you need to make sure the deal is worth it. Add up the approximate savings you’ll get and weight it against making one big purchase.

For instance, let’s say I buy shampoo that’s normally $10 a bottle and I use one bottle a month. Then I spot my shampoo on sale, buy one at full price, get one %50 off. If I buy six bottles at once, I’m paying $45 up front instead of just $10. BUT I’m saving $15, because six bottles would normally be $60. That’s three mochas! You bet I’m buying six bottles!

If the sale item is something you just use all the time, like toilet paper, just buy it. You know you’ll save money in the long run.

Your Freezer Has Space

When it comes to food, you can save a lot of money if you take advantage of sales. But you have space in your freezer, because no way can you stockpile food and use it up before the expiration date. When you decide to stock up during a sale, make sure you can eat everything within the time frame it will last in the freezer (about six months for most items). You might also be able to borrow space in a friend’s freezer.

Now, if you have a big family and/or you tear through whatever it is you’re buying, just go for it.

You Like Canning

Yes, some people can food! In fact, I’d say it’s an old-fashioned technique of storing food that’s on it’s way back. Even if you did not plan to can pickles today but you got that amazing special offer on those cucumbers, cancel your plans and make the pickles.

If you’re not charging it on a credit card or you’re new to canning, it will be worth it to spend the money now to save money on it tomorrow. The key here is whether you were going to buy it anyway. If it’s something you already eat, get to canning!

When Not to Shop a Sale

The only time you should ignore a big sale is if the item is something that wasn’t even on your radar before. That’s not smart shopping. If you’ve never wanted it or thought of it before you saw the deal, keep walking. Retail stores are very, very good at making everything look like you need it when you really don’t.

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