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Why is getting a bargain important?

The reason people like getting a bargain differs by age, salary and where they live. But ultimately, saving money means shoppers have more spare cash for those big-ticket purchases: a new car, a vacation or even a new home. The flip side of not saving money, then, are feelings of guilt or remorse—something that seems to influence everyone across the board.

The guilt factor

Here’s the thing: Spending money on expensive items generally makes people feel bad. In fact, when asked if they had ever experienced any feelings of guilt after purchasing an expensive item, 56% of the people we surveyed reported feeling either “extremely guilty” or a “little bit guilty,” a feeling that was particularly prevalent with millennials ages 25 through 34 (73%). Overall, only 28% of people had no regrets.

In this way, using coupons or getting a bargain lets people buy and enjoy their treats or hobbies more fully without feeling as bad.

As Tucker, our consumer psychologist, explains, “the saving reduces the ‘neural pain’—the sense of loss as cash is spent.” And there’s more to coupons than just saving money. They’re also a way to, “defend and justify their purchase against any criticism from friends, partners or family,” which might come their way after spending money. So if scoring a bargain is important, what steps are people taking to make sure they get a good deal?

It’s all in the planning

For some people, sales are an important enough event to get marked on the calendar. For example, 56% of 25- to 34-year-olds know when a sale is due to start at their favorite store. Overall, nearly one in five people (19%) reported feeling just as excited about going on vacation or their own birthday as they do about a sale.


Younger age groups are more likely to get excited about sales starting. We discovered that many 16- to 24-year-olds, in particular, anticipate the start of their favorite store’s sales as much as they do their annual vacation (43%) and even their birthday (39%).

What does finding a bargain actually feel like? It’s clear that getting a bargain triggers emotions: excitement, pride, happiness and a sense of winning or achievement.


Aside from money off, what else do people get out of finding a bargain? For some people, the “win” isn’t just about saving money on something expensive. Although everyone is primarily motivated by getting a good deal, reactions from family and friends are the second most important factor for 16- to 24-year-olds. For low earners, on the other hand, the “win” is more financial; the good feeling comes from not dipping into their savings.