Technique: Limited time offers, sales and discounts
One of the most obvious and yet also one of the most devious techniques; when a store or salesman uses this, your adrenaline can kick in and suddenly you’re convincing yourself that passing up this deal would be a mistake you regret for the rest of your life.
Response: Stick to your list!
Before you go into the store, mentally prepare yourself for these kinds of offers. Tell yourself in advance that you will buy only the things on your list and nothing more. Even taking just a moment to reiterate this commitment before entering the store can dull the sound of the “limited time” siren song. If you’re trying to save money, it’s very important to refrain from purchasing anything beyond the necessities. There will always be sales and discounts… So don’t bite.
Technique: Candy and magazines at the checkout stand
Speaking of biting, these things are the ultimate impulse buys. Store managers place them at the point just before you pay – knowing that you will have an initial desire to purchase them. Research has shown that this initial desire fades pretty quickly, so they prefer that you pay as soon as that impulse kicks in. Why candy and magazines? Because they are indulgences, and we feel that we deserve a reward after completing our shopping.
Response: Give yourself a different reward
If you find that you always succumb to the checkout stand indulgences, you should fight back. If the candy is what breaks your will, then before you leave the house put a cookie or some crackers in a plastic bag and reward yourself with it right after the checkout. If the magazines are your vice, bring a couple of quarters and buy a newspaper instead. This way, you won’t end up spending $5 on a magazine or a couple candy bars that you don’t need.
Technique: Big stores and soft music… er, muzak
Do you ever find yourself in a daze after entering the grocery store? It might not be a coincidence. The sheer size of these places means you have to wander around to find all the items on your list – which is good news for the store owner, because the more time you spend wandering, the more likely you are to place additional items in your shopping cart. And the muzak, however tedious, can make you shift from a determined state of mind to a more… let’s just say “mushy” state of mind.
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Response: Get more efficient
If the muzak makes you fuzzy-headed and vulnerable to unwise purchases, you could try wearing your earphones and put on whatever music you like. Also, try to use the same store each time – eventually, you’ll know its layout so well that you’ll find the items you need quickly and you’ll reduce your in-store time significantly. You can also stop using credit cards or use our handy credit card lockdown stickers. Instead, bring enough cash to pay for what you need and nothing more. That way, you won’t be able to give into temptation and buy more than you planned.
Image 1: paulswansen
Image 2: Francois Schnell