The Time I Nearly Impulse Purchased a TV

Earlier this year during Easter I found myself in an electronics store browsing the TV’s and appliances. I didn’t go to the store to buy anything in particular, rather it was just another Saturday morning. Walking back to the car after enjoying a Saturday brunch session at our local.

Yes, even though I go on about how you should cook meals at home, I do go out for the occasional Saturday brunch to catch up with friends. It happens only about once a month, and during the last few months in winter we haven’t gone at all. Partly because the winter menu hasn’t been great- no avocado is a deal-breaker. The millennials are with me on this one! 

It’s only when you go and eat out constantly when it starts to hurt your finances too much.

Anyway, a typical Saturday, with the exception that the Easter sales were on.  We popped into the electronics store for a quick look to see what’s new in the world of tech. After all, I find that stuff quite fascinating.

After a while, I started to notice how cheap TV’s were now.

I have never bought a TV outright. The current TV I own is one that we bought as a flat during university years. We all put in an equal share of $650 and bought a 42 inch TV and cabinet. At the time the purchase was easy for me as I had just been working all summer driving tractors and was flush with cash.

This was back in 2008, and TVs were much more expensive back then. The TV, including extended 5-year insurance- we were naive and thought this was a good idea- came out at $2600.

This got us a 42 inch full HD plasma TV. We were naive in buying the extra 5 year insurance because generally, I believe, if electronics fail badly, they will fail in the first year or so. In which case the manufacturer’s insurance will cover it. Ten years later and this TV still works exactly the same as the day we bought it.

Once we had finished our university studies we all headed to different cities for work prospects. But we had to do something with the TV. We all own an equal share, but couldn’t cut it in four.

Again, because I worked full time over summer I had more cash than the others. Students don’t often have much disposable cash. I decided to buy their shares out. I would want a TV when I move into the new place I thought. So I bought their share of the TV for $200 each.  The TV was 3 years old at this point. So I was in for $1250 total for the TV.

Skip forward to now, and I was standing in front of a 65 inch LED flat screen that was as thick as a piece of paper. The screen had no bezel around it. And it had ultra-high definition with all the bells and whistles, on sale for $1099.

The price was more than half of my current TV and was better in practically every way.

We deserve a new TV. Our one is 10 years old. Think how much better our lives would be with this monstrous 65 inch TV.  I will finally have a TV that is bigger than my friends. Some of the thought that crossed my mind at the time.

I was helped by the staff and had a play to see how the TV functioned. I was at the point where I wanted one. I asked if they had any left. They said yet. We were in. Then he asked what sort of car we had brought. I said we had a small Honda civic outside. He said that the box was unlikely to fit in it.

We went and measured the space in the car and sure enough, it wouldn’t fit. We can cram all sorts of objects into our trusty 2002 Honda civic. But the TV was too big.

He suggested that I pay to get it delivered. For $75 they would deliver it to my door and take away all the packaging. My frugal nature got the better of me at this point. $75 dollars to deliver. We only live 6km away. I wasn’t going to pay that.

So the deal was off. The nice sales assistant wrote the price of the TV and the date the deal ended on a store card. The deal was to end on Tuesday.  So if I still wanted it I would need to figure out a way of picking it up by then.

Skip forward several months, and we are still using our current TV. After letting my impulse decision making settle down we figured that we don’t need a new TV. And a 65 inch would be far too large for our house.

Besides, the new TV wouldn’t be able to do much more than our current one. Sure the screen is larger, and the entire unit is more sleek and modern, but our current one function perfectly.

That store card that he wrote the price and deal end data on still sits on my fridge to this day. To remind me that I shouldn’t give in to impulse purchases.

Impulse purchases

Any good marketer knows that impulse purchases are a gold mine. If you can get a product in front of people and play with their emotions you can get them to purchase impulsively.

It is easier to sell a product to someone who is impulse purchasing over someone who has done research on what they are wanting to buy.

In fact, there are entire stores that rely on impulse purchase to sell items. Think about cheap thrift stores or even electronic stores. Much of what they sell can be bought at a far cheaper price online direct from the manufacturer.

The only difference being is that if you buy it online you have to wait for shipping. It is harder to impulse purchase an item that requires several days to ship.

So if all the items they sell can be bought online, either the customer doesn’t know about it, or they are making impulse purchases.

Sale Sale Sale

Stores having sales is another way of playing with your emotions to try and get you to make an impulse buy.  It plays on our emotion of not missing out on a deal to “save” a certain amount on an item.

When in fact, if something is on sale, you don’t save money when you buy it. You Spend Money! You don’t miss out on saving any money if you don’t buy it. Either way, you are spending money. Most likely on an item, you don’t need.

Don’t let sales trick you into thinking you are saving, when in fact you are spending. The only time you should buy at sales is if you had already been looking to purchase the item and were just waiting for it to go on sale.

I waited several months for a table saw that I wanted to go on sale. I knew that they had sales on them, as I found an archived catalogue from the store with a previous sale. And I knew the sale was a good one, $500 off- bring the table saw done to $700.  So I waited for it to repeat. And sure enough, it did.

Don’t give in to time pressures

This is the thing with sales and special offers these days. They repeat. And this is a good thing if you recognise it.  You don’t need to give in to the time pressure associated with these sales.

Having the offer only be available for a certain period of time plays to our emotions of missing out again. Fueling our impulses to purchase. But if you know the sale is more likely to repeat, then it shouldn’t affect you as much.

Give yourself a cooling-off period

And since you know the sale will repeat, you won’t be inclined to think that you are missing out. You can go home and spend a few days thinking about whether you actually need the item that was on sale.

More often than not, like the TV from earlier, after a few days thinking you will realise that you don’t need to buy whatever it was. You realise that is was just savvy marketing.

Putting the item on a discounted rate for a short period of time plays to our emotions and helps use impulse buy. There are entire shops that use this tactic to operate. There are several retailers that have sales so often in NZ that you would never buy anything at full price. And that makes me think that they could just be overinflating their prices normally to allow for their frequent sales.

Final remarks

Before making a big purchase here are a few things to do.

  1. Sleep on it- give yourself a few days to think it over
  2. Don’t feel time pressure- the sale will more than likely happen again
  3. Remember when something is on sale, you are not saving money, you are just spending less money than it would normally cost.

Have you had any impulse purchases that you now regret?


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