Q1 2021 ends much like last year's Q1 ended in the middle of a pandemic. One full year of the corona pandemic; crazy to think a year ago, it all started. Now with the first quarter of 2021 finished, it's time to take another look at my portfolio and see how it faired during these challenging times. Did my portfolio continue to rocket to the moon, or did it orbit a bit and crash back down?
Last Updated on March 16, 2021 by Mr. FightToFIRE
In Belgium, the shopping season is in full swing during two periods:
- December – January
- July- August
These always dominate the main street till the end of their respective period (and sometimes even beyond that).
For all of January (and again in August) shops and online stores try to tempt you with “amazing deals”, “huge discounts”, “super sales”, etc. It’s the perfect time for us looking to reach FIRE to make purchases we held off, right?
This should be an excellent opportunity to get good deals on goods that are otherwise more expensive. While this makes sense, you should be careful before you consider buying anything.
Whether it’s online or in a physical store, sellers apply various tricks which might end up making you pay or buy more than you originally foresaw.
Here are some of these tricks you should look out for before thinking you scored the most amazing deal ever during sales.
These tips and tricks also work great on other commercial shopping crazes such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, boxing day, etc.
Watch out for attention-grabbing statements
- “Up to -60%”: That “to” is key here. What you can find in the shop, is not necessarily discounted at 60%. Usually most of the items are even only priced down to -20% or -30%.
- “Be quick!”: Don’t be rushed and wonder if you would like the item if it wasn’t discounted. Eventhough this might be tempting on days like Black Friday where you only see crazy rushes.
- “Round prices”: Both in percentages (“-70%!”) and in absolute figures (“All at €10!”). The latter would have the strongest effect on buyers.
Raising prices before the sale period
Shops dare to raise the price shortly before the sales so that the price difference seems larger. But usually, the difference isn’t all that big. Sellers just take the discounts into account when they calculate their (original) full price, so they don’t lose at the end of the ride.
Be wary of low quality goods
Do you see a huge pile of stuff with a 60% discount? You should question the quality of these products then.
These items could’ve been specially made for the sales, or it are goods that the seller isn’t able to sell due to being found undesirable by people who already bought it.
It’s very possible that there is nothing wrong with them and they are discontinued items that must be cleared to make room for a new version.
Know what you want
Want the most choice? Then go in the first week of the sales before others already took the size you need or that one color you really like.
Do you want the lowest prices? Then it’s better not to go on a bargain hunt until the last week. This holds especially true if you aren’t tied down by size or color and need a certain product regardless of specific needs.
To the shop or just online?
The most import thing here: compare. One is not necessarily more expensive or cheaper than the other.
Online shopping can be more expensive you might first think. Online shops have shipping costs, and they try to cover these with higher prices. Moreover, the manufacturer or brand owner determines the selling price, and they won’t want to compete with their real stores. Physical stores have other costs to compensate, such as the rent of the store building and more personal.
Last but not least, since many web shops operate from abroad, you can just as easily participate in the foreign bargains.
There are also outlet webshops, which offer discounts all year round. So why wait for our sales?
The blocking period no longer exists
The blocking period is the month before the sales in which sellers are not allowed to communicate sales.
The tie-in sale (where you only get a discount when you buy another certain product) is already applied everywhere. At the end of the day, such a tie-in is also a form of selling making the blackout period a hollow concept. So don’t hesitate to already search for deals the month before the sales.
In the end, you can definitely get an amazing deal, but you should be extra careful as well during (these) sales. I actually made use of this period to get some things I put off for quite some time. I finally got myself:
- A decent U-lock (Abus Granit X Plus ), my Axa defender Ring Lock came with a cable lock but besides showing lots of rust, it’s inherently worthless against the most basic of tools, i.e., a simple pair of cutters, so I decided to up the game for my bike(s’) security and get a decent though still affordable U-lock.
- 2 1.8m micro-USB nylon cables (Anker), nylon cables last a lot longer because it can’t experience rubber fatigue.
- A power bank (Xtorm al421 ), quality power bank for my daily commutes since I use my smartphone a lot. Will also be very convenient during (holiday) trips.
- Scratchable world map (Luckies scratch map deluxe ), really cool map that allows you to make the parts visible that you visited (on a budget of course 😉 )
These purchases will have a clear impact on my savings rate. While the month isn’t over yet, my Savings Rate up until today (21/01/2019) sits at about 74%. Be sure to keep an eye out for my update at the end of this month.