Stop Impulse Buying This Holiday
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Our lives are seriously lacking spontaneity. Everything is plannedfrom our busy workdays to the kid's soccer practice to what we're eating for dinner.
The thing is, our brains are hardwired to seek novelty and excitement. Most of our day-to-day activity just doesn't do it for us. But shopping does. Particularly impulse shopping.
According to a survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education, two-thirds of us admit to making impulse purchases in any given month. One of my most memorable -- and costly -- impulse purchases was a trip to Antarctica. Apparently I'm not alone the same study found that vacations account for about 7% of impulse spending. Of course, I may be on my own in wanting to chill with penguins.
The problem is, buyer's remorse follows that shopping high 71% of the time. This is especially pertinent during the holidays, when overspending is the norm.
So before you head out in search of holiday deals, we've got the top 5 ways retailers will try to get you to spend more, and what you can do to resist.
1. Limited Time Only Sales
Sales are the main catalyst for impulse purchases. The only thing worse than a sale is a "limited time only" sale. Feeling a sense of urgency makes us even more likely to buy.
Next time you're tempted to place a sale item in your cart, give your brain 10 to 15 minutes to cool down. If you still want the item after that, go ahead and buy it. Just hold on to your receipt in case buyer's remorse kicks in once you get home.
2. Displays/Visual Cues
Stores use displays, which they call "strike zones" to force us to notice and consider purchasing a product. The best way to survive the strike zones is to arm yourself with a shopping list and a spending target. For holiday shopping, you can use a fun app like Santa's Bag to keep track of both.
3. Anchor Pricing Strategies
We're pretty bad at figuring out how much something should cost, so we usually look at nearby products to get a sense of relative pricing. Stores exploit this with a technique called anchoring, and it's very effective.
Rather than compare items in one store, use an app like Red Laser to comparison shop across many stores and websites. You can also access reviews to see if an item is a good buy or not.
4. Last Minute and/or Inexpensive Additions
It's no mistake that retailers place small, inexpensive items near the cash register. If we're already spending $100, what's an extra $1 for a candy bar?
To avoid the temptation, read the news on your smart phone while you're in line. Make conversation with the person behind you. Just don't start throwing last-minute items into your cart.