Originally posted (11/6/08)

As we rapidly approach the holiday season, I thought it would be a good time to bring up some of the retailers favorite tricks that are used to get you to spend more. Retailers are professionals at selling and they have spent millions in research to determine how to sell as much as possible. Here are a few tricks and techniques to watch out for this holiday season:

1. Limited-time-only bargains. Regret is one of our most disliked feelings and people naturally do what they can to avoid feeling regret. Marketers know this and use it to their advantage with limited-time offers and bargains. By making you feel that you have to act now or risk losing
out on a great sale or product, retailers force you into a split second decision that often results in a purchase. Another way this fear is used is when retailers purposely limit quantities of merchandise. Once a shopper returns to buy something, only to find out that item is no longer in stock, that person will be less likely to pass up on something he or she wants in the future.

2. Buying in bulk is cheap, right? This is one that I have found Wal-Mart to be especially good at taking advantage of. We have been trained to believe that when we buy items in bulk, we pay less per item than buying in smaller quantities. Retailers take advantage of this in a couple of ways. One is that the larger size product is not always cheaper on a per unit basis. This often happens when the smaller size is on sale, but the larger is not. Be sure to always check the actual per unit cost of the product is to make sure you are really saving.

The other way this often works against us is that most of us hate to pass up what we view as a good deal. Think of McDonald’s when they brought out the super-size option. Getting all those extra fries and that giant drink for $0.29 more seemed like such a great deal. That is until you are half way through the fries and realize that you can’;t eat any more. Before buying the larger size item to save money, make sure that you will actually use it.

3. Make sure the purchase can’t wait until later. It is very rare that you will come across an amazing deal that you’ll never see again. In fact, quite the opposite is usually true. When was the last time that you went to the craft store and they didn’t have a 1/2 off sale? It seems that some items are on sale more often than not. Before buying a sale item because it seems like a good value, make sure it is something that you need and will use in the near future. If you already have 3 large jugs of laundry detergent, don’t buy another because it’s on sale.

Be smart with your money and only buy items that you actually need, not items that you might need a month down the road.

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