We live in a consumer society where every retailer and shopping mall is structured and operated with the sole intention of making you part with more money than you intended to.
One way in which the retail machine persuades us to part with hard earned cash is to play upon our emotions. Birthdays, Valentine’s and particularly Christmas are times of year packed full of advertising purporting that the more you spend the happier your loved ones will be this holiday season. We all want to enjoy the holidays but be sceptical of stores claiming that the way to do this is to buy, buy, buy.
Bear in mind that a lot of stress and arguments between people before, during and after holidays is caused by worrying about what to spend and then being unhappy to have overspent. Have a happier time by sticking to your budget and not having to regret the choices you made with money management.
Another easy way for retailers to make money is to promote high price tag items as special and desirable to give and receive. The big ticket items make us think we’re treating ourselves by buying this special item. Unless the high price reflects your genuine appreciation for the quality of the product then it isn’t worth that price to you.
There is an inbuilt competitiveness in human beings. Although this may serve us well in many life situations it allows us to be manipulated when buying things. The concept of “keeping up with the Jones” is well known; people spend, spend, spend on things they have no desire for because they want to compete with what other people have. Keep your priorities in mind, don’t buy things to impress others, buy something because you genuinely need or want it.
It’s free! Buy one get one free offers are fine if you use them wisely. This is essentially a way for stores to apply a 50% discount to a product without making you question the regular price of the item. If you get a free bag of rice with one you buy and then ration the food out the way you normally would then you’re winning. If you get a free bag of rice, eat twice as much and then come back to the store the next week when rice is full price and buy two more then the marketers have tricked you into consuming more and overspending.
Human beings have been hard-wired from the dawn of time to give more importance to the moment now than the moment later on down the line. The obvious reason being that unless you make the most of and survive the moment you are in then the moment yet to come may never happen.
The way around this is to never impulse buy. If you are out for one planned item and see another which you want but did not intend to buy, remove yourself from the environment. Go home and think about returning for the item another day. By removing the item from your immediate attention you can test how much you really want it. Advertisers are very good at designing ads and store layouts to pique the “must have it now” feeling. Chances are a few days later you’ll wonder what made you so interested in the first place.
By understanding how retailers are targeting your money management you can protect yourself from overspending and become a more considered consumer than ever before.