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Circuit Breaker

Why I'm a Prime Day Grinch: I hate deals

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I hate deals. I always feel like I’m being tricked into doing something I had no intention of doing previously. If I really needed that toy or gadget or vacation, I would’ve paid for it at full price, right?

Do you like deals? I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong. In fact, we have a roundup of gadgety Prime deals we’ve collected that maybe you’ll find useful! Also Best Buy has some deals, too. See, I'm not here to tell you how to live your life.

Anyway, I think I have a specific childhood memory I can trace my deal aversion to. I was grocery shopping with my mom, and I spotted a two-for-less-than-the-cost-of-two deal on Bacon Bits. I was probably eight or nine years old. My mom? She said, "We don't need two things of Bacon Bits." Impeccable logic. My mind was blown. We walked away with a single jar of Bacon Bits, and my whole life course was changed.

My mom was always frugal and thoughtful with money. On similar trips to the grocery store I learned all about figuring out what's the best deal based on price per ounce, instead of just looking at the basic sticker price. And I'm sure she didn't avoid sales entirely. We just didn't buy what we didn't need.

If you buy something only for the fact that it’s on sale, you didn’t "save money" in the literal sense. You spent money.

Peak Amazon

I guess the second pillar of my deals aversion came years later, in the summer after my senior year of high school. Me and a buddy sold coupon books door-to-door for $10 apiece. The money ostensibly went to a Make-A-Wish-esque organization. You know, it was for the children. But I got a sweet commission, and I remember learning that all the coupons in the book weren't really a loss for the companies offering them, but were actually offered by these companies because, wait for it, coupons are advertising.

Deals aren't about you. They're about improving profits for the store, and the businesses who distribute products through that store. Amazon's Prime Day isn't about giving back to the community. It's about unloading stale inventory and making a killing.

But what about when you decide you really do want / need something, and it just happens to be on sale? Well, lucky you. I guess I've grown too bitter and skeptical. I just assume automatically that if something's on sale AND I want to buy it, I must've messed up in my decision making process somewhere along the way.

I'm not very good with money, if you couldn't tell. This isn't about me being the poster boy for YNAB. I'm also not great with gadgets, and while I do offer the sage advice to anyone who will listen: "Don't ever buy a computer / phone / TV until you can't live without your current one, because there's always something better about to be released and waiting always pays off if you can manage it," I don't always heed my own advice. I bought a MacBook Pro last year when my MacBook Air was still perfectly functional, and I've been sad to discover that for day-to-day tasks (like running Chrome), it's hardly an upgrade.

But for the most part, I'm able to temper my desire for shiny new things, and keep my gear bag minimal and useful.

And then maybe you want to say, "But don't you run a gadget blog? How can you call yourself a gadget blogger if you don't even like to buy random gadgets." And to that I say, "Hey buddy, I love to talk about technology and explore its implications, but I didn't sign up to support consumerism, okay? Buying stuff won't make you happy. Let's not kid ourselves. Sorry if I'm coming across as a little aggressive."

There are a lot of wonderful gadgets that exist in the world, which can make your life easier, more effective, and more fun. And there's also a lot of crap. And deals don't help me decide which is which. I guess that's all I'm saying.

Oh, and don't even get me started on Steam Sales.