You go for a browse around the shops and come back with stuff you didn't think you wanted, and a depleted bank account. How does this happen?
While part of the problem is caused by your own attitude to shopping, some of the blame lies with advertisers. Here are five of the most common advertising tricks used to trigger impulse buying -- know them and keep your spending under control.
1. Time Limits
Today Only!!! For a Limited Time!!! While Stocks Last!!!
Time limits are one of the most common advertising tricks to trigger spending. This strategy is designed to create feelings of panic, that if you don't buy now, you will miss your chance. This is actually quite unlikely unless the object of your desire is becoming obsolete or going out of style, in which case, you may be better off getting the next model. As long as it is in demand, the price will more likely go down, not up.
Time Limit Tips:
Any time you feel pressurized by a time limit to buy, slow down. Reflect on whether you really want or need it, and whether you already have one at home. Finally, don't buy it unless you can return it if you change your mind.
Advertisers have become so bold that they now dictate what we must have. Really? Ask yourself what will happen if you don't have it. The chances are you already either own or have access to something similar. With this strategy, advertisers are appealing to our sense of wanting to be equipped with the essentials -- yet most of the items advertised this way are far from essential.
Ask yourself if you really need this item, whether something you already own will suffice, or whether you would like to consider other options. Don't just blindly slap down your plastic because someone says you must.
3. Discounts on Multiples
Buy One, Get the Second 50% Off!!! Buy Two, Get the Third Free!!! Buy Four or More at the Special Price of...
These are a real cheat, as they make you think you are spending less, when you are really spending more. Rarely, if ever, do you actually save money. How can that be? Surely the discount on the second, third, fourth or fifth item saves you money? Not so.
Let's say the deal is on shirts for $30 each. You buy one, you spend $30. If you buy one and get one half off, you think you are only spending $15, but you've actually spent $45. And if you need to buy two to get the third free, you've actually spent $60. Did you really want three similar shirts anyway? Chances are, you have plenty of shirts already, and needed one more at the most.
You could have got a better discount waiting until they went on sale for 50% off, and then you wouldn't have to buy more than you need. Of course, by the time they go on sale, they may no longer look quite so enticing, but if you went for a discount on multiples, you might still have one or two hanging in the closet with the tags on. And if you return them, you forfeit the discount. Not such a good deal after all.
Multi-Purchase Discount Tips:
Decide how many you really need, and when you need them. Will you have to store the excess in the meantime? Is there a chance the spares could spoil, deteriorate, or be superceded by a better design over time? Also, make sure the discounted price isn't a miniscule saving compared the the hassle of buying multiples.
Mail-in Rebate!!! Spend $50 Now, Get $25 Off Your Next Purchase!!!
Rebates are potential discounts, that have a built-in time delay -- meaning the seller has your money for the time you are waiting for your rebate. They also have many hidden terms and conditions that may mean you never get the discount at all. Reading the fine print is essential, and really, who has the time when you are trying to get your shopping done?
To collect your rebate, you often have to complete a complicated online or mail in process. You may find that some minute detail -- the date of purchase, your age, your location etc, invalidates the rebate in your particular case. Collecting the rebate may be time consuming, demand personal information you would rather not disclose, and it may require you to spend even more money before you collect your discount. A lot of time and effort, and you may not have even wanted the original purchase, if you were simply chasing the rebate.
Don't buy anything with a rebate unless you wanted that exact item anyway, and were willing to pay full price for it -- which you probably will anyway. Check that the discount off your next purchase doesn't require you to spend such a large amount in such a short period of time that you will never collect on it. And never be fooled into a rebate involving calling a phone number to claim it -- these are a well known scam which you will pay for via your phone bill.
5. Images of Love and Sex
Advertising relies so heavily on the imagery of love and sex that most of us don't even notice it. But starting to notice when this imagery is used will help you to make more objective buying decisions. If an advert implies that you will be loved or that you will be more sexually appealing if you buy a particular product, you can be pretty sure that it is preying on your insecurities. And it will probably not make you any more lovable or sexually attractive.
Love and Sex Imagery Tips:
Try to imagine the product without the adoring couple, blissful family, or semi-clad models. If it has little to no substance without the imagery -- perfume is a good example here -- it probably isn't worth the money.