Budget Basics: Wait for a Sale


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Written by: Anne-Marie Hays | Best Company Editorial Team

Last Updated: February 24th, 2020

A row of people holding shopping bagsThis holiday season, most consumers say that when compared to last year, their household finances have improved or held steady, while 26% say that their finances have worsened.

Only 22% plan to spend less than they did last holiday season, according to the Deloitte 2018 Holiday Retail Survey

If retail therapy is your favorite sport, living within the confines of a budget, even one that you set for yourself, can feel draining. It can also take away the one thing releases your stress. If you are already worried about money, trying to find the best deal on everyday items like groceries or pharmacy goods, or a one-time purchase such as a birthday or holiday gift is very important.

Remember your plan

Keep in mind that you have a “higher purpose.” While you may grow weary of living within your budget boundaries, remember your motivation. Whether that is to get out of debt, save for school, or enjoy a fun vacation next summer, you made your goals for a reason. Don’t let an unexpected expense get in your way.

If you need help remembering your plan, print it out and put it on the mirror. Also, consider using a budgeting app like Mint or YNAB (You Need a Budget). These will let you quickly check on your monthly progress and visualize your savings goals.


While you can opt to shop for the high and then return your items a few days later, you can also wait for the items you need to go on sale. If it feels daunting to be constantly searching for deals, make sure your friends and family know what you are looking for so they can let you know if they see a sale.

Use technology to help lighten the load. Sign up for promotional emails from the store or brand in question. You can also sign up for alerts about a product or company. Slickdeals.net offers deal alerts. You can sign up for items and brands that you are interested in and then you get alerts when they go on sale. Slickdeals is a crowdsourced deal website, so users up-vote the best deals, making it a good resource to help decide where to buy a certain item as well. 

Another great tool to help you stay within your budget when grocery shopping is mygrocerydeals.com. Just type in your zip code and you’ll see which grocery store near you has the items you want on sale this week. This free service compiles the weekly ads for you.

There are a variety of apps and websites dedicated to helping consumers find a coupon or a deal. Make sure you check them out before you make a purchase. 

Everybody makes mistakes

While 65% of Americans set a holiday spending budget, a whopping 77% of those readily expect to exceed the budget they have set, according to Coinstar's 2017 holiday survey

What if you make a mistake and purchase something that you hadn’t budgeted for? Ask yourself, is this a once in a lifetime deal? How often would I use this? If you aren’t going to use it in the next month, then see if you can return it. If you can’t return it, check to see if the retailer has a price matching policy. If you can find it for a cheaper price with a competitor, then you can ask for a partial refund.

Above all, if you make a mistake, don’t give up on your budgeting goals. Treat every week (or month) of your budget as a blank slate. A periodical fresh start will keep your will to save as strong as possible.

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