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Are "spend to save" deals worth it? - The LAMP

Are “spend to save” deals worth it?

By December 14, 2009 News No Comments

Even though we’re already on the third day of Hanukah and there are only ten shopping days left until Christmas, the email offers keep coming in. Ever since the week of Black Friday, my in-box has been filled with special “deals” from just about every online retailer I have ever used. The message is about the same–20% off on this, free shipping on that–and I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t taken advantage of any of them. However, the ones that trip me up are ones like the Sephora offer pictures at left. The email starts off telling me that I’ve got $15 free to spend on anything I want, which sounds good. I enjoy make-up. But then, my marketing/media literacy kicks in and tells me that there has to be a catch; nothing is ever really free. I read a little further, and sure enough, I have to spend $35 in order to save $15.

So, holiday shopping tip number three: Beware of “spend to save” deals. (Missed our earlier posts? Check out holiday shopping tips one and two.) Offers like this are tempting, and can be useful depending on your shopping plans, but they can also bring you to spend more than you may have originally intended in order to pass theĀ  threshold of, for example, $35. You buy what you set out to buy, but then your basket totals only $30, so you throw in something else just to get the deal. Yes, you’re saving money, but you also had to make an extra purchase and are now saddled with some extraneous item, just so you could say you got a bargain.

Again, sometimes “spend to save” offers can be genuinely useful, but think carefully before you buy. Remember that the job of advertisers and marketers is to create need. Before you enter the ring and start shopping, make sure you’ve thought ahead so that you, and not the advertisements, are in control.

–Emily Long