As though you don’t have a hard enough time spending less money, retailers fill their store with tactics meant to make you spend more.
Before your next shopping trip — to buy anything from gifts to groceries — familiarize yourself with common retailer tricks, as well as tips for resisting them.
1. Retailers play on your senses
What’s the store’s mood when you walk through the door? Colorful? Fragrant? Filled with the soothing sounds of relaxing music? If it puts you in a good mood, it’s with good reason. The better your feel inside a store, the better you’ll feel about the store’s products.
Tip to spend less: Make a habit of noting how the store makes you feel as soon as you enter. The more aware you are of how the environment is making you feel, the less likely it is that you’ll attribute those good vibes to the merchandise.
2. The staff is overly friendly or overly rude
In clothing stores in particular, we all know what it’s like to be greeted (or ignored) by sales staff when you walk through the door. When staff is warm and inviting, it can feel like you’re talking to an old friend; someone who knows what you want, and knows what looks good on you.
But confusingly, snobby staff can boost sales, too. The ruder salespeople are, the more you want to win them over. To prove that you belong, you might purchase something you don’t really need just to make a point.
Tip to spend less: Remember that retail workers are neither friends nor enemies. They are salespeople doing a job. They’re not your friends, and it doesn’t matter what they think.
3. Stores are organized for optimal spending, not ease of navigation
How often do you walk into a store and feel like you can’t find anything you’re looking for? It’s not that they’ve done a poor job organizing — it’s by design. The more time you spend in a store, the more likely you are to spend more money.
Common organizational tactics include:
- Greeting you with a display of lower-priced items at the entrance, aiming to immediately break any resistance you have to buying things that aren’t on your list.
- Displaying higher-priced items at eye-level in hopes you won’t look higher or lower for a better deal.
- Making sale items hard to find and putting clearance racks at the back of the store so you can stumble across higher-priced items before you get there.
- Changing the layout of the store to make everything hard to find, forcing you to walk the entire store and discover things you don’t normally see or buy.
- Displaying impulse buys at the checkout line.
Tips to spend less: Bring a list and stick to it. Look at eye-level shelves last, and spend your time in the checkout line doing what comes naturally (and free) — looking at your phone.
4. They create the illusion of a good deal
As committed as you are to sticking to your list, a good deal can be too tempting to pass up. It doesn’t help that retailers go to great lengths to create the impression of a better deal than you’re really getting. Some of these tricks include:
- Pricing products one cent under a whole dollar amount (say, $9.99 as opposed to $10) creates the illusion that you’re spending a lot less for something than you really are. It’s only a penny difference, but it sure feels like a lot more.
- Making bulk buy offers that would cost the same whether you buy the advertised amount or not. For instance, you may not have to buy 10 items for $10 — you could pay a dollar for just one.
- Displaying a high-priced item next to an even higher-priced item, creating the illusion that buying the cheaper of the two means you’re getting a good deal.
- Using a “limited time” offer to create a sense of urgency.
- Limiting the number of items you can buy, creating the illusion that inventory is limited so you better stock up.
Tips to spend less: At the grocery store, compare products by the price per unit (which is listed on the tag). This will tell you which one is really the best deal. For high-dollar items, compare deals online before you walk into a store — you’ll know beforehand whether it’s a good deal or not.
5. Stores give away free samples
Yes, giving away free samples is a good way for retailers to introduce you to new products — but it’s also a good way to guilt you into buying them.
You might feel bad every time you walk away from the person handing out samples, like you’re hurting their feelings or jeopardizing their job. But don’t be fooled: They don’t care if you buy the product or not.
Tip to spend less: Shop on a full stomach to avoid the temptation of food samples. For samples of perfume, lotion, or similar items, a simple “Thanks, but no thanks” will do. You can’t feel guilty if you don’t try the product in the first place!
6. They offer free shipping with a minimum purchase
How many times have you bought more than you planned from an online retailer just so you could take advantage of the free shipping offer? While it can be a good way to get a good deal, you can also end up buying more than you need.
Do the math and make sure you’re coming out ahead. It never makes sense to buy an unnecessary $20 item to save $5 on shipping.
Tip to spend less: Don’t make the purchase right away. Keep everything in your shopping cart and revisit it 24 hours later to see if you change your mind.
Resisting every retailer trick won’t always be easy. In fact, you’ll fail miserably sometimes — and that’s okay. Save your receipts and return items later if you decide you really don’t need them.
What matters most is educating yourself about what’s really influencing your purchase decisions. It’s not always a reflection of how disciplined you are about sticking to a budget. It’s also all of these strategies retailers have been perfecting for decades.
But one thing is certain: The more informed of a shopper you are, the less money you’ll spend over time.
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.23% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
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