Bargains Can Make You Poor

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By Kathy Tapley-Milton

Bargains are a double-edged sword. They can save you money, but they can also make you poor. If you are trying to stick to a budget grabbing up bargains can easily blow that budget.

I am experiencing the pinch of the current economic recession, having lost three-quarters of my income. However, I have to confess that I am addicted to bargains at Thrift Stores and yard sales. I actually get an adrenaline rush when I see something that is marked down.

When you are nearly broke, buying up bargains with reckless abandon can take what little bit of money you have and make it vanish. Then when medical expenses or essentials need to be paid, there isn’t any money left and you are in a crisis.

I think the antidote to addictive bargain buying is to ask yourself, “Do I really need this or am I buying it just because it’s marked down?” Also, keep in mind that medications and other essentials have to be paid for. Try to outsmart your bargain-hound self. Don’t keep all of your money in your purse or where it is easily accessible. Keep an emergency reserve somewhere safe. Also, avoid online shopping as this can lead to financial ruin. With just a few clicks of the mouse, you can rack up big bills and shoot yourself in the foot financially. The following systems are time-honoured suggestions for saving money.

PHASE # 1: Save all change and put in the bank.

PHASE #2: Stop spending C$5.00 bills and put in the bank.

PHASE #3: Stop spending $10.00 bills and put in the bank.


If something costs $5.00 you have to use a $10.00 bill; put the $5.00 left over in the bank.


If something costs $10.00 you have to use a $20.00 bill and put the $10.00 left over in the bank.

The Envelope System:
“Paying cash for as many things as you can is a really good way to save money.” It can get confusing though when you get your cash out of the pay period and you have a few hundred dollars in your pocket. Confusing to try to sort through what you need to spend that cash on AND tempting to spend it all right then. The cash envelope system is a great way to get all of that organized.

The first step is to make a plan for your paycheck. Decide how much needs to go towards bills this pay period and how much is for the more adjustable items, such as food, eating out, clothes, medical, toiletries, etc. Once you have figured out how much cash you need to cover the expenses that you can pay cash for, withdraw it from the bank.

Then get an envelope for each category and label them accordingly. Put the amount you have decided on the back at the top. We did this for a couple of years. Then we took Financial Peace University, a class by Dave Ramsey and the kit came with an envelope system that we have used since.

Dave Ramsey has a great program and he details the cash envelope system in his books.”
Whether you use the envelope system or the easy way to save money, remember bargains can make you poor, so spend your money wisely! If you can’t afford it don’t buy it.

Katherine Tapley-Milton is a writer living in New Brunswick. You can find her latest book, Daily Meditations for Cat Lovers at Her book Mind Full of Scorpions can be found on


One Comment on “Bargains Can Make You Poor

  1. I have one rule that works for me and one I use to use, that did not work out.
    I would say to myself before making a purchase. “do you NEED it?” or “do you WANT it”

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