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My Frugal Life: Beware of Sales!

At this time of year all the shops are blazoned with seductive notices of enormous reductions: "fifty percent off", "eighty percent off". Who wouldn't be excited at the prospect of picking up a new toaster or food mixer or winter coat at a fraction of its original price?

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But it's been my experience that the thrifty shopper should approach the "sales" with caution. It's all too easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment, dazzled by the enormous mark-downs, and come home with something inferior or just plain unnessecary as a result. I have a blue velvet dress (worn once and badly-fitting) now sitting in the children's dressing-up box as a constant reminder of a trip to the sales where I was persuaded to believe it was something I'd needed all my life.

Many shops get things in just to sell in the sales. I was once a sales assistant in an expensive homeware shop and every January they would ship in cheap and badly-made goods that they would sell off as "marked down".

Nowadays I try to avoid the sales unless I know exactly what I need to buy - and I march straight ahead to that department, not looking at anything else. Look closely at that unusual flurorescent orange coat that you-can't-imagine-wearing-right-now but-one-day-might and you'll find a very good reason why it's being sold off at eighty percent off its original price.

I head for clothing staples like tights, socks and underwear which are usually genuinely marked down and always useful. Homeware - such as storage jars and saucepans - are another useful buy if you need new ones. You can also stock up on Christmas decorations, crackers, napkins and tableware as they will be very cheap. The same applies for things like bubble bath and hand cream - or anything that was being sold as a "gift" over Christmas. Be careful about electrical goods as the knock-down bargains are often of inferior quality - check online to see reviews of them.

The sales can be a source of thrifty triumph or a whirlpool of over-spending and mistakes. Be prepared!

By Lucy from Oxford, UK

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February 3, 20120 found this helpful

I enjoyed reading this! I love the point you made here. You are so right!

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February 3, 20120 found this helpful

I have gotten nice things on sale - $30 items down to $10 or even $7 - Just try things on.

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