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Impulse Buying: The Secret Hole in Your Wallet
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Ian D.
Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor
Posted May 3, 2018
Do you find yourself regretting purchases made in the heat of the moment? Do you ponder other things the money could have been used for instead? Impulse buying can be the death of budgets and account balances alike. Here are four impulse traps to avoid:
1. Grocery gambit
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The layouts of grocery stores are designed to increase sales. Stores want you to stroll through aisles of products in search of items on your grocery list. They hope that you’ll spot something new and intriguing and end up adding it to your cart (and your bill). Limit yourself to one or two new items per trip to minimize unplanned costs.
2. The “now or never” myth
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Sales and product labels that use phrases such as limited edition, exclusive, or this won’t last are tapping into impulse buying tendencies. They create the illusion that if you don’t buy something now, you’ll never have the chance. If the item wasn’t already on your radar, skip the sale and save the cash. Buying something you don’t really need, even if the price is a steal, is still wasted money.
3. Checkout offers and upselling
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Cashiers are often trained to sell products by suggesting extra items at the register. They may also inform you that you’ll save additional money by adding just a few more dollars in merchandise. Although it might seem like a good deal, if you weren’t already considering buying the extra item, skip it. The money saved is a better deal than paying for something you don’t want or need. It’s also a safe bet that you weren’t planning to buy that magazine or candy bar while standing in line. Skipping these temptations during checkout can cut costs as well.
4. Avoiding shipping costs
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There’s a swimsuit available online for $24.99, but you need a $25.00 minimum purchase to qualify for free shipping. Sound familiar? Online retailers’ most successful strategy for encouraging impulse buying is to have a purchase threshold to avoid shipping costs. If you have to search for extra items to qualify, it’s probably best to just pay the shipping fee. You’ll save money and avoid buying extra junk. Additionally, if you’re buying online because it’s cheaper, don’t negate the savings by adding unwanted items to avoid paying for the delivery.
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