The breakdown of flash sales and how to resist them

One thing making it harder to save money for college students is the rising popularity of flash sales. Flash sales are a marketing technique utilized by companies to increase visibility to their target market or even to make room for new inventory without the accumulation of back inventory costs.

A flash sale is where a company advertises items as varying percentages off for only a limited time. Many of these flash sales include a countdown clock at the top of the website increasing the pressure to buy before it’s too late.

These sales work because they target the group of people that fear they won’t be able to find a deal like the one offered again and people don’t want to miss out on getting the item at such a low cost. They call this ‘Fear of Loss.’ Flash sales also appeal to impulsive buyers.

9 out of 10 millennials admitted to impulse buying, in a poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research, which is why many companies target millennials. Impulse buying is also thought to correlate with seeking instant gratification and risk-taking.

I have found one of the most effective ways to resist a flash sale is to simply unsubscribe from the companies’ mailing list. It is hard to ignore sales when you are getting them inboxed to you as soon as the sale begins and when it is almost over. When you aren’t getting notifications about a sale the company is having, it is harder to know that a sale is even taking place. Also, you won’t be receiving the weekly deals so you won’t have that pressure to spend more money.

Another way to avoid being lured in by a flash sale is to create a shopping list for the items you need to buy, even if you are online shopping. This allows you to focus on the items that you need and not the items you may want because they are on sale.

The best way to save your money is to shop with cash. People tend to be more stingy when they have to hand over paper money instead of swiping credit cards. This also makes you rethink spending extra on items you only want because they are on sale.

Another tip is one that my parents gave to me: never buy something without knowing how long it took to make that money. This makes it harder to be a frivolous shopper because even an item on sale for $20 is still over two hours at work and really puts into perspective how wasteful it is to buy an item that you don’t need because it’s on sale.

Flash sales are incredibly tempting (because you do only have 24 hours before the sale is gone), but it has never been more important to prioritize where our money needs to go with accumulating student loans, the increasing cost of living, and the stagnation of wages.