Sometimes a deal truly is too good to pass up. Most of the time though, that deal you’re looking it is the last line between you living within your means and you crushing your budget on a purchase you don’t really need. Retailers have spend decades refining their methods of how to sell stuff to you using prices, colors, advertising, and psychology and they know how to get you to part with your hard earned cash. You may not even know you’re falling for a deal until after you’ve already made your purchase. Here are the top 5 ways that retailers try and trick you into spending more money on your shopping trips that cause you to bust your budget. Once you know their tricks of the trade you can shop knowing when to walk away from a deal that is too good to be true.
- Vacation Purchases
The whole point of going on a vacation is to relax and unwind, so you’re already more likely to spend more money on things than you would at home. However, you still need to be vigilant even while on vacation for deceptive pricing and impulse buying. If you are going to a tourist destination you’ll start to be sold on things from the moment you land. There will be ads for tours and experiences, restaurants and hotels, and ads for stores selling all kinds of treasures for you to take home. If you don’t show up to your vacation prepared you can quickly sink yourself by doing too many things that cost too much money. The best way to avoid overspending on vacation is to save money beforehand and build a budget that includes everything you are going to do while you’re there.
- Need vs. Want
The new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus just came out a few weeks ago so this is the perfect example to use for need vs. want. Do you need the new iPhone because your current phone is broken? Do you need it because it has a feature that will dramatically improve your life? Most likely the answer to the second question is no and if you’re like me the answer to the first question is, “well my phone isn’t broke, but it’s just not working as well as it used to I guess.” It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking you need a new product simply because it’s new and cool and not because it’s something that you are replacing or that you need to use regularly. The next time you’re looking at something brand new and think that you need it, stop for a moment and consider whether it is replacing something broken, filling a gap in the things you own that should be filled, or is just something cool. If it’s just something cool, then walk away if it doesn’t fit in your budget.
- The Deal
The deal can take many forms, but common ones are buy one get one free, very limited time frames to redeem a discount, and seasonal specials. The key to taking advantage of sales to only buy things that fit within your overall budget. For examples, say you’re looking for a new couch and the one you’ve been looking at is full price but a fancier model is on sale for 30% off which brings it down to only a few hundred dollars more than the couch you’re looking at. It may seem at first blush that you’re getting a better product for a good price, but you’re actually busting your budget to spend more money on a different couch altogether. Stores know they can entice you into upgrades like this by carefully developing the prices and sales they offer you so be sure you know your top dollar you’re willing to spend on a purchase before you head to the store. Going into credit card debt or spending more than you have to get an upgrade almost never makes sense.
- Treating Yourself
If you’re new to setting and sticking to budgets it can be tough to get into a good habit of tracking spending and living within your means and not using credit cards. You may slip up a few times along the way but eventually you get good at sticking to making methodical choices about your purchase and you find that you have developed a nice little pool of money by saving from each paycheck. This is where you can be tempted to treat yourself for doing such a great job and you head off to the mall and end up buying something that you really shouldn’t have. Just like dieting, it’s a slippery slope when you go off budget and you can quickly lose control of your purchasing and ruin the months of hard work you’ve put in. The best way to get around this sabotaging habit is to build a treat yourself savings line into your budget. Pick an item or experience you really want and then each paycheck you put money away into that pool of cash. Make sure you are saving money elsewhere that you know you aren’t going to touch unless you have an emergency and then when you reach your goal amount for your treat yourself savings go ahead and splurge on the item you’ve been planning on.
- Celebrations and Gifts
There are so many good reasons to celebrate like weddings, birthdays, baby showers, promotions, graduations and our seasonal holidays. With each of these happy occasions there are opportunities to buy gifts, for you or for other. It can be tempting to spend top dollar on an item you know your loved ones will appreciate because you care about them, but spending too much on gifts can sink your budget. Weddings and graduations tend to cluster up in the same time of year and can be quite costly if you buy gifts for every occasion. Plan well ahead of seasons where you know you will have to give gifts and build that savings into your budget.