We all are guilty of it. I get store coupons in the mail and walk around with them in my wallet until my cell phone reminder alerts me that the coupons will expire. Then, I rush into the store and try to find something on the sale rack so that I get an even deeper discount when purchasing my new clothing using my store coupon.
If shopping gives you a rush, and hitting a sale just about gets you high, you’re in good company. THE URGE TO SPLURGE is practically encoded in the American DNA-even in less-than-prosperous times. Those trips to the mall, boutique or outlet are driven by some surprising psychological factors as well as some tricky marketing ploys. The editors at Women’s Health magazine help you analyze your shopping habits and impulses so you can spend smart—consider this free retail therapy.
Cost-Slashing Comparisons: We are more likely to go for a bargain if we can see how much we are saving. Stores usually tell you that everything is 30 percent off which sounds like a bigger bargain than getting $21 dollars off a $70 sweater.
Outsmart the strategy: Think about the implication of the purchase. If you are wavering over an item of clothing, think twice before trying it on. If you try on something that fits perfectly, your brain subconsciously takes possession of them and not buying them then feels like a loss.
“Limited-Time Only” Offers: Sales like these are Pavlovian in nature: they take advantage of our innate curiosity and train us to expect that something great is coming at 3 a.m. on the morning after Thanksgiving or, in the case of Gilt Groupe, at noon EST every day.
Outsmart the strategy: This type of sale plays on the fact that the human brain is more focused on the here and now than on tomorrow. Tell yourself that you have a goal of putting money away and make these goals tangible.
Pushing Back Payment: Ad’s that tell you “no money down and no interest until 2015” convinces your brain that the expenditure won’t hurt, because you don’t have to pay today.
Outsmart the strategy: Research shows that the more “unreal” the form of currency, the likelier you are to spend. To stay in check, leave the credit cards at home and swap the five twenties in your wallet for two fifties; psychologically, they’re tougher to break so you will think twice before spending them.
For more life skills, check out WomensHealthMag.com or pickup the March issue of Women’s Health on newsstands now!