We were brought up believing that Christmas is the time for giving. My wife and I were considering this fact these last few weeks and we came to the conclusion that, yes it is true when we give, yet it is the retailers that receive, as prices escalate astronomically this time of year.
We were considering the prices of a favourite brand of cat food and a brand of butter. Both had escalated in price by more than 30% during this year and recent priced specials were still 10% dearer than a year ago. This makes it increasingly more difficult to use this time of giving for the intended people, the ones we love.
It is like a conspiracy when the prices jump up in the third quarter of each year. We later believe that we are receiving great value when prices return to slightly lower levels, believing that we are getting a real special – a bargain.
A few years ago we visited family in the USA and we had so much stuff to bring back that we realised we needed more bags to carry it all. The family advised us to wait till after Christmas and get things at real bargain prices. We bought branded sport bags for 5 dollars (R65) that cost 15 dollars for Christmas. This is common in the USA when at the end of season great specials are offered, true clearance sales.
Heaters sell for over 50% discounts at the end of winter, bathing costumes for less 60% at the end of summer. Not in RSA. Here we see no more heaters at the end of winter. They are taken directly to storage and held over until next year to be sold at the 20% escalated prices. You cannot even get cheap Christmas decorations; they are stacked away by the 26th.
Should we blame retail? No, we the consumers are to blame. We buy at any price regardless. My wife and I wait for specials and will only buy one offs until specials come around. On Sunday my wife came across our butter brand on special for R32, rather than the ruling R43 selling price, still dearer by R4 than the R28 selling price at the beginning of the year, but a special under ruling conditions.
Also over the weekend the cat food brand was on special. The particular chain store group only had two packets on the shelf, the rest was empty. This time we secured the two packets for R39, R16 cheaper than current price, yet R4 more than a year ago.
Both these products are brands that we prefer. Yet a time must come soon that we may have to move away from these brands. Brands are generally harmful to the purse and many equivalents are available and much cheaper prices. Real dairy butter is now cheaper than the brand we use and this brand is becoming increasingly unattractive even if not as spreadable as our brand. Sometimes pain brings gain.
Why am I rambling on about this today? Because the power of brands and ever increasing prices are clearing our wallets and leaving nothing for one day. We do not save and blame it on the ‘I can’t save’ and ‘have you seen prices lately’ syndromes. The money is ours to give and that gives us power if we do not relinquish it from habit. Look around and buy at best prices.
We need to become aware in our quest on how to make sense of our money to change our behaviour. We now have the information but need application to bring about transformation in our budgets; transformation that can save us money and put us in a position to create wealth from the savings.
Then there is the gaming console that is advertised at the special price of R6999.90 claiming a savings of R2 000. This prompts us to buy, yet shopping around has revealed that it is offered by a large chain retailer for R5 900 (another R1100 cheaper – R3 100 in total), and R 5 200 when bought online (yet another R700 lower). Do not believe all you see and always look for the best price before buying.
We all have this quest of working smarter at our jobs not harder, meaning that we can achieve more by doing less. We should rather become smarter in the spending of our money, with us working harder in finding best deals so that we can spend less on what we buy.