Retailers often use sneaky strategies to entice you to spend. We show you how to get in and out of stores without blowing your budget.
Trap #1: strategic product placement
Stores will put pricey goods at eye level and giant displays mid-aisle "so you'll stop, look and buy," says Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., a consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
Avoid it. Write down what you need beforehand and you won't be tempted to veer off course. Scope out bottom shelves, too; that's where the least expensive items are often located. And plan ahead for eco-friendly shopping.
Trap #2: checkout tchotchkes
Merchandisers know you're probably tired and hungry when you're waiting to pay, which is why you'll find small items meant to spur impulse buys, such as lip gloss and candy bars.
Avoid it. Distract yourself by texting a pal. Also, if you ask yourself what you're truly craving (lunch?), you won't have to fill the void with a splurge. Create a money plan you can live with--and even love!
Trap #3: a myriad of mirrors
"Shoppers who check out their reflections may be prone to self-critical thoughts, leading them to buy products to fix themselves," says Alan Guinn, managing director of the Guinn Consultancy Group, in Bristol, Tennessee.
Avoid it. If you didn't walk in thinking you needed improvement, leave that tooth whitener on the shelf. See a mirror? Give yourself a compliment. ("Good-hair day!")
Trap #4: A racetrack floor plan
Many shops are set up as a circuit that guides you past the greatest number of items, so you linger longer. Trouble is, "The more time you're in the store, the more you'll be apt to buy," points out Pam Danziger, founder of Unity Marketing in Stevens, Pennsylvania.
Avoid it. Don't wander around; go straight to what you need. And set a time limit. When shoppers exceed 30 minutes, there's a spending bump. Avoid all of these traps and save time and money with our handy online shopping guide!
Trap #5: mega-baskets
Many baskets and carts are supersized these days, and that's no accident. "When you see extra space in the cart, you may wonder what you are forgetting-and then buy more," Guinn explains.
Avoid it. Skip the cart altogether and grab a small basket or, if possible, use only your hands.
MORE FROM SELF:
Live a Richer Life!
Save more, spend smarter and stress less with our two-week plan for a happier, more secure financial future.
Do-Good Beauty Goodies!
Play Santa and help others with these charity-funding finds.
"We'll Never Get Out of debt"
How one family is budgeting their way out of debt.
- Subscribe to SELF for less than $1 an issue. Get a FREE Healthy Recipe Book download!