Unfortunately, most of us don’t have a money tree in our backyards, so we have a finite amount of money with which we need to pay for our homes and utilities, clothe and feed our family, and then think about luxuries after that. Trying to get a family budget to go further and spread thinner is an artform in itself; but when retailers both online and in the store are trying their hardest to convince you to part with even more money, you can have a real challenge on your hands. With all the best intentions, it’s still far too easy to fall for retailers tricks – they’re smart! Here are a few common mistakes we make when we shop for ourselves and our families and how to avoid them.
How many times have you gone to the grocery store for a gallon of milk and left with $20 worth of snack foods and treats? It’s just far too easy to spend! The first mistake is going to the store without a list and a refusal to stray from it. Build your list up over the week, and never let yourself buy anything that isn’t on it. Not only will you find that your bank balance looks a little bit higher, but you will find it easier to control meal plans and junk food intake as a bonus.
Falling for Retailers Tricks
Retailers pump a whole lot of funding into researching how best to get consumers to part with their money. So shopping is full of tricks and hurdles to get you to spend more. Being wise to their tricks is the best way to avoid this. Store cards are the perfect example–to the innocent eye they look like the retailer wants to thank you for your loyalty with deals and gifts, but does it really save you money? They are designed to get you to impulse buy and spend more than you planned. Now, some people do use them effectively, but you have to ask yourself Am I simply buying this because it is a good deal? Do we need it? Will we use it? Can we afford it?
Heading to the Store Hungry
Grocery shopping when hungry is a terrible move–you’ll leave with armfuls of high-calorie food, and far more than you needed. But even shopping for non-grocery items while hungry isn’t a good idea either. You’re more likely to make ill-informed decisions when you’re a bit peckish and your blood sugar is running low. If you are like me, you tend to keep snacks on hand for your kids, but forget about yourself. Make sure you also have a bite to eat before you head to the store!
The Impulse Buy
Stores have this cunning ability to place items in your eye line which you’re likely to pick up, thinking you’re either getting a bargain, or because all of a sudden you decide you need it. These impulse buys are usually so quick and easy you barely even realize that item has entered your cart, but it really adds up. Keeping a list and refusing to stray from it is the best way to avoid this, but also trying to be mindful of everything you put in your cart helps too. When we leave our list behind, we are more susceptible to product placement and marketing. And when you feel rushed or harassed you’re far less likely to make balanced decisions about purchases.
It also helps many people to keep their budgeted store and grocery money in cash form. For whatever reason, we have a harder time parting with physical cash. Swiping a card doesn’t register the same in our minds. Plus, it helps us keep from overspending when we realize our impulse buys would only leave $20 in our grocery budget for the rest of the month!
These mistakes are all scarily common, and retailers really know how to make the most of human psychology to encourage consumers to spend more. Wise up to their tricks, and you’re guaranteed to make a saving.