The Last Great Deal


I feel like I’ve come a long way as a bargain shopper. Once upon a time, I’d happily snap up ill-fitting clothing in colors I didn’t like and styles I’d never wear simply because they were such fantastic deals. How could I pass up an $8 sweater at J.Crew? Even if it was a shade of chartreuse that made me look like a flu victim. How could I leave that $12 silk skirt behind on the Banana Republic sale rack? Perhaps because it made me look like a family of otters had settled in my nether regions. I am more discerning now, and shop knowing my needs, my wants, and my favorite styles. But the lure of stupendous bargains still beckons on occasion, and I am forced to pull out this mantra:


Know who taught me that one? Husband Mike. And not because he monitors MY shopping habits, but because he is prone to flights of bargain-shopping fancy himself. He learned the hard way that cheap items are not always great deals, and that buyer’s remorse hits hardest on final sale clearance items. So he has taught me to be present and mindful when I peruse the racks.

Because our instincts tell us that what we’re holding in our hot little hands IS the last great deal in the world! By gum, if we don’t snap up this amazing deal, someone else will and there will NEVER AGAIN be a deal so sweet! We will rue the day we passed it up, dream endlessly about the sweater that got away, kick ourselves again and again. This deal must be ours. MUST.

And non-buyer’s remorse is a real phenomenon. We can all name the got-aways, and we all rue the days we passed on them. But those items can generally be counted on one hand, while most of us have a shelf or two brimming with “last great deal in the world” items … many of them unworn. So next time you find yourself scouring the sale offerings for anything under $10, next time you decide you absolutely cannot pass up such a mind-blowing bargain, try reminding yourself: This is not the last great deal in the world.

Image courtesy Daniel E. O’Neil

Originally posted 2010-05-26 05:27:00.

Next Post
Previous Post

32 Responses to “The Last Great Deal”

  1. poodletail

    It works for me with everything except Dries van Noten.

  2. Michael McGraw Photography

    Rue The Day is my next imaginary band name.

    I have to use the Last Great Deal concept often. For me it comes in the form of buying two get one for 30% off and things like that. A great deal, maybe, but, I have to question whether or not I need 3 of something.

  3. Miss Peregrin

    I have to do this alot actually, since I'm prone to ending up with a wardrobe full of cheap, but virtually unwearable clothing. But you know, I got it cheap. I'm trying to be a bit more sensible, and repeating something like this really helps.

  4. Cynthia

    My equivalent is "this is not the last cute little shirt Anthropologie will ever make/not the last awesome summer dress that Boden will ever put on sale" etc. Sometimes it works.

  5. Couture Allure Vintage Fashion

    I admit, I can get blinded by price too. I've started to tell myself, "There is a reason this is marked down so much." If it didn't sell at full price, 25% or even 50% off, It's probably ugly, ill-fitting or unappealing. I more often kick myself for not paying full price for something that I immediately love. When I wait for something like that to go on sale, I am usually disappointed, as it has sold out. This happens more frequently now, as retailers are carrying less stock after the crash of a couple of years ago.

  6. Anonymous

    Yes, this is my mantra, and I teach it to others as often as I can do so without being annoying. The day discount culture dies in the US, it'll be the result of something so cataclysmic that we'll all have bigger things to worry about than cute shoes.

  7. Peter

    This "Last Great Deal" mentality is so ubiquitous and retailers know it and price accordingly. They factor in that only "X" percentage of sales will be at full price, then "Y" @ 20% off, "Z" @ 40% off and so on. So you while you may be paying less than full price, even at 50% off somebody's making a profit. But then I guess that's how they stay in business!

  8. Future Lint

    I try to ask myself "If this was full price, would I still want it?" and while I NEVER pay full price for anything, that question helps put the cheapness vs. unflattering argument into perspective for me!

  9. La Belette Rouge

    The same is true with food. If there is one last piece of cake I some how imagine it is the LAST piece of cake that will ever exist and so I must eat it. If I remind myself that there will be other cakes then I don't need to eat that last piece.

  10. Anonymous

    I am getting better. Interestingly enough, it is easier for me to say 'no' in person than it is to resist online deals. There must be a reason for that. Maybe my resolve to be more frugal weakens after midnight!

  11. Hello*Pretty

    So true.. and something I really need to incorporate!! I have 3 closets full of clothes.. do I really need more stuff, probably not! Thanks for the inspiration and I am going to do my best to really think about it before pulling the trigger. xo- karrie

  12. Courtney

    I try to remind myself of this when faced with a clearance section, but I struggle. I have gotten better since I unsubscribed from the ton of sales emails I used to get, but buy one get one 50% off is still a struggle for me. Even if I don't need two new pairs of jeans. . . .
    Loving The Reflection

  13. rb

    I have a friend with the mantra "this is not the last restaurant I will ever eat in." She uses it to make herself order something healthy and not the thing with the bechamel sauce or whatever.

    I had not thought of applying that to shopping but it's a good one. I too have bargains unworn, but you know… those things I fall in love with and pay full price for, those things get worn. Sometimes a bargain really isn't a bargain.

  14. Mother of Style

    It's silly but when I find myself struggling not to buy something JUST because it's a great deal I look at it, or hold it, and say in my head: "You are a great deal. But I am not going to buy you. Good luck with someone else." It's corny, but it works 🙂

  15. Eve

    "We can all name the got-aways, and we all rue the days we passed on them."

    I'm as prone to buying cheap-but-unwearable as anyone, but in thinking about this remarkable turn of phrase, which really should be a song lyric, I can't actually recall any specific item that I wish I'd bought and can't get now. Maybe that should be what I remind myself of when the temptation of the $5 not-quite-right item presents itself again.

  16. eek

    I am getting better at not spending $$ on stuff just because it's on sale. Sometimes I just tell myself, would I rather have this cheap item or save for something potentially more expensive but definitely more fabulous. Fabulous wins the majority of the time (but not all!) 🙂

  17. Anonymous

    My catch phrases, learned from a friend, is "the bargain of a lifetime happens once a month" along with "saving by spending can only work for so long" And it's true, while I have, on the rare occasion, regretted not buying something, my life has never been irreparably ruined and something equally wonderful always comes along, generally sooner than later!

  18. Little Sugar Mama

    Best piece of shopping advice my husband ever gave me, as he learned from his mother: It's not a deal if you don't need it.

  19. orchidsinbuttonholes

    I try to keep this in mind at all times. It's part of the reason I rarely go to outlet malls – it's much more difficult to keep this in mind there. There are some things I own and love that I got on sale, but this is a good sentiment to hold on to.

    Thanks for this post!

  20. K.Line

    It totally works! And I remember once how you told me not to buy something online just because it was on sale. Something about online and on sale made me completely lose my perspective. I have remembered that ever since and have been far less tempted to spend unless I need something specific.

  21. Aury

    That is SOO True, and having lived in a place that doesn't have thrift stores for so long, Goodwill has become my ultimate downfall. But if I tell myself that I will come back for it in 24 hours if I can't stop thinking about it, has helped.

  22. Sara

    I have (finally) learned to ask myself "If you go home without this and can never find it again, will you TRULY regret it"? I swear to you, I buy maybe 10% of the crap I would have bought before I started that. AND, I love everything I buy now!

    Sal, I hope I didn't spark that post with my link to you of the Acreas on sale! haha

  23. In

    Oh how I have been suckered into these in the past! Nowadays I am much more wiser.

  24. myedit

    I totally need that mantra… tattooed across my right hand as I pull out the credit card.

  25. Lady Cardigan

    "There's always another sale," I tell myself — and yes, it usually works. I wish I could find a mantra that worked as well on NON sale items that I find myself wanting.

  26. jennine

    best advice ever. however, there are a few times, i passed up a good deal and regretted it. but not as often as bought something and wish i hadn't.

  27. Fashion Court

    absolutely loved this. i get sucked in so many times..and wind up buying it and never wearing it…even if it's the wrong size, etc. i've been getting better as i get older though

  28. Emily Kennedy

    GREAT mantra! Thank you so much for putting this out there!

  29. Shaye

    Reading this saved me $5 at Banana Republic Outlet over the weekend. Granted, it was only $5, but I really did not need that not-particularly-flattering ivory ruffle-sleeved t-shirt. *g*