It’s no secret. We love getting a deal. We’ve always loved getting a good deal. From trading cattle and grain, to buying electronics or dinner; we just can’t pass up a great deal.
Why is that?
Well, let’s first look at this question from a sociological and evolutionary perspective.
The world is tough. The mere fact that you were born and made it to whatever age you are right at this moment reading this sentence is just short of a miracle. As humans, we’re able to look at things from a scientific and historical perspective and understand that the probability that we even exist is just nearly unfathomable. All it would have taken is for your 9th great grandfather to have eaten that not-quite-completely-cooked pork, or get knocked about in a war, or he got caught by famine or disease, and you wouldn’t be here. This is something we all know and our very DNA knows this.
What’s interesting here is that while you might not recognize on a cognitive level the dangers lurking around you all the time, your subconscious mind does recognize them and hides it all from you so you’re not paralyzed all day on your bed in abject fear of the certain death that’s just beyond the edges of the bed. It’s a smart system… your own brain hides from you anything that might inhibit you from being an active participant in your community. So you DO get out of bed and go to work and stop by the grocery store, driving in a car along with countless other people doing the same thing.
So that’s great, but why do we like to get deals, you ask?
Well, the same crazy mind that hides the terrifying world from you, also rewards you for participating in anything that might increase the chance of continuing your lineage. Going out with other people for dinner, or socializing with a group in any sort of setting increases your overall well-being (and your chances of finding a mate!). Going to dinner also maneuvers your mind into the idea that you’re sharing resources with a community… another trick to survival.
Getting anything at a great discount has the effect of allowing you to maintain a higher portion of your net worth as a stockpile. Having a stockpile is a good survival technique as it allows you to outlive and outmaneuver your competition. So any time you save money when shopping, that little guy in your brain views this as stockpiling your assets for the future, or for survival, or the survival of your children. The fact that you spent any money or part of your stockpile at all is overlooked as long as you were able to come out of a trade with the upper hand; because having the upper hand is necessary to survival.
So when we get a good deal, we in effect make a trade in our favor and the brain simply says “Great job, there, buddy!” and inundates you with a sense of well-being and happiness, because that crazy guy driving the brain thinks, “Nice… we are totally beating out that competition!”