Firstly… when was the last time you read ‘uncouth’ being used in a sentence? Sometimes those old-fashioned style words are the ones that fit, so let’s go with it.
On to the subject at hand: money saving. Now, admittedly, it’s not the most glamorous of ways to spend your time. There seems to be a certain expectation that not only should we all be happy to pay the full price, but we should outright shun the idea of getting a discount. Ever. In fact, every so often the tabloid press seem to delight themselves in writing a “point and laugh” article about discount shopping as if the people who do it should be put into a zoo so we can all marvel at the less well-off.
It’s such a strange attitude, really. It’s inescapable, no matter what your income level is. If you don’t make much, then you’re judged for needing to use discounts and be savvy with your pennies. If you’re doing okay, then there’s an expectation that you don’t want to be grouped with the less-well-off, so obviously, you should be happy to pay full price. Finally, if you’re wealthy, well – why should you need a discount? Why would you want one if you can pay the asking price many times over? (This is despite the fact that many people reach high levels of wealth because they are tight with their money!)
Discounts, getting things for free, lowering the cost of your expenditure – there’s no doubt there’s a certain section of society who looks down on the whole idea.
“Well,” you might think, “they can do whatever they want – but me? I don’t care. If I can find a discount code then I’m going to use it and I don’t mind buying second hand if it’s what I need, and the item is in good condition.”
Is that true though?
The problem with the attitude that penny pinching is somehow to be looked down upon is that it infects us all. For one thing, we have cultural references that judge people for their attitude to money. If someone likes to save rather than spend, they are running the risk of being labelled a Scrooge. It doesn’t matter if they’re being cautious with their expenditure for all the right reasons; it still happens. And no matter how confident you are in your money-saving ways, it’s a simple truth that no one wants to be labelled as being tight-fisted with money. It’s almost always portrayed, in pop culture, as being a negative character trait; synonymous with the idea of general meanness, something that only unpleasant people do.
Secondly, sometimes, the voice comes from inside our head. It’s the voice that tells us we shouldn’t haggle, because it’s impolite or some other justification. It’s one thing to have a scan of DontPayFull.com prior to making an online purchase, safe in the privacy of your own home, where no one but the computer processing system knows that you used a discount code. It’s quite another – for most of us – to say to another person’s face that we want to pay less than the price they are asking for.
This is quite troubling and it’s surprising how much it impacts all aspects of life. For example, as FastCompany.com details, 49% of job candidates don’t negotiate the offer that a company makes them on salary. This is fair enough if the job has an advertised wage, but if it doesn’t, and specifically is advertised as being ‘negotiable’ – would you negotiate? Or would you take their first offer, because of some silent pressure from yourself – fuelled by years of societal values infecting your thoughts – to accept what they’re offered?
There are a few reserves where we’re comfortable negotiating; buying a house is probably the most obvious one. How much are we comfortable with that, though, because we make the offer through a solicitor rather than having to be so direct with the people we’re negotiating with? There’s no doubt it helps.
The simple fact is, a huge amount of people are truly terrible with money. This is made worse by the fact they don’t negotiate, ignore discount codes, don’t wait for sales to come around, don’t bother trying to get the best deal – because they think these are traits that say something about their wider character. Realistically, shouldn’t we be more concerned about our financial future for our family rather than what other people think of us? Or is the problem more what we think about ourselves? Penny for your thoughts on the issue!