Anna V. Haotanto
Even thoughtful shoppers can overspend. You may come home from a doozy of a retail excursion at a luxurious mall, put your feet up and wallow in the pleasure of all those new purchases.
Then you pull the shopping receipts out of bags and boxes and realize, oh-oh. Not only this month's shopping budget got blown, but you've dipped into next month's as well.
Your next credit card statement will demand payment with money you don't have. Now's the time to reflect on the traps that snagged you, causing you to overspend your shopping budget, and how to avoid these mistakes next time.
Getting Sucked into "Sales"
When people see the word "sale" advertised in a store, they believe that they're going to get a great deal. This is not always the case. Just because something is on sale does not mean that you must buy it, no matter how much you feel you need to.
Over time, the buying-on-sale habit will see you consistently overspending, eventually leaving you high and dry when you can't keep up with your credit card payments.
Spending More to "Save" More
Stores sometimes offer coupons and discounts for their products if you spend a certain total of money. In reality, you will actually buy more items just to get that discount. When all is said and done, you haven't really saved money, and in fact, you've spent more than you would have if you hadn't been so intent on getting a discount.
Many people are unknowingly impacted by this bad little habit. Impulse buying most commonly happens at the grocery store because people pick up small items without realizing how much they add up as a sum total. Incidentally, it's also dangerous if you go grocery shopping when you're hungry. You will buy more food than you would originally need or want; seeing so many appetizing foods will tempt you even more due to your hunger pangs.
If you have an important gift to buy for a big occasion, it's best to shop for it as far in advance as possible. This will keep you from spending a higher amount of money as a result of stressful last-minute shopping when you might pick something that is closest to the front of the store or the first thing that you see.
Such behavior can end up being more expensive than actually sitting down in advance, thinking about what you want to buy, and then going out and making a considered purchase well before the big event.
Not Making a Plan
Whether it is grocery shopping or clothes shopping, the lack of a plan outlining your shopping wants and needs can really set you back when you get to the store. You might forget to buy certain items, or think you need particular things when you actually don't need them at all.
This routine of willy-nilly shopping will see a build-up of unconsidered purchases and add up to a larger bill when you check out. Making a list will narrow your focus to concentrate on exactly what you need to buy and nothing more.
Shopping Too Early in the Retail Cycle
Many people think that when something is launched for sale, they need to buy it right away because the item will sell out. But this perception is not necessarily correct and does your wallet no favors. In some cases, products will be cheaper following initial on-sale and a period where you'll just have to wait. It's worth mentioning too, that being afraid of missing one of the big retail highlights may cause you to overspend on one item, whereas you could spend less on a few different items instead.
Not Focusing on What You Need
A lot of times, shoppers forget that just because something is on sale doesn't mean that they absolutely need it. Buying unnecessary sale items can cause you to overspend and sometimes end up with irrelevant purchases.
If you can buy a lot of items at a discount and think you'll use them later as gifts, your thought is most likely wrong. Chances are good that you'll forget you have those items and you will have wasted your money. When you go shopping, focus on exactly what gift items or necessary things you need at that time only.
Being a smart consumer will give you the financial leg-up in the long run. When you can keep yourself from making mistakes or falling into traps when shopping, you'll not only curb your bad habits now but will also save money in future. It is never too late to start shopping smarter.
Anna Haotanto is the CEO of
The New Savvy
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