Do you think that you are in control of your shopping? You might be surprised. That is because there are a number of sales techniques, from free shipping to coupons that can mess with your head and cause you to spend some serious money without even being aware that it was their idea, not yours.
Comparison Sizes Can Trip You Up
Let us imagine that your are at the movie theater, standing at the concession counter. You have to make a decision on what size popcorn to purchase out of three sizes, small, medium and jumbo. The medium is probably the right amount of popcorn for you, but when you look at the choices, you see that compared to the medium, the jumbo size is only $2 more for twice as much popcorn, so you go with that. It just makes sense. It is a better value. What if I told you, though, that the manager of the concession stand had no intention of ever selling you the medium size. That size is intentionally placed there for comparison value, to influence you in making the more expensive choice, and to get a few more dollars out of you.
Try to focus on what you really want to purchase, not on the comparative value of spending more.
Would you drive to a store out of your way, if you were given a grocery coupon for $10 off of a $25 purchase? I bet you would. What if instead the coupon was $10 off of a $250 appliance you wanted? Maybe the drive wouldn’t be worth it. Yet a $10 savings is still $10 savings, no matter what you are purchasing. The difference in motivation comes down to something called Bigness Bias. We think of money as a percentage of a larger whole, so the higher the percentage, the bigger the value, according to our perceptions. So, you might not want to pay a few pennies more to get the name brand crackers instead of the store brand ones, but you have no problem adding on hundreds of dollars in extras during a car purchase or a home renovation, because your brain sees those costs, which are smaller percentages (not smaller dollars) as minor.
When making a decision about whether something is worth the cost or the savings, imagine what else you might purchase with the dollar amount. This will help you remove the bigness bias from your decision.
Getting Something for Free
Now you are at a children’s clothing store. You purchased some items on sale and are happy with your savings. The clerk rings you up and then tells you that if you add $7.22 in more merchandise to your order, you qualify for a $25 off of $50 coupon, a savings of 50 percent on anything in the store. Chances are that you will put the sale on hold to go find a pair of tights, a t-shirt, or something else to add to your sale, to earn that coupon.
The same goes for adding items to an online shopping cart in order to hit a limit for free shipping, or a taking advantage of a buy one get one free offer. All of these bonuses prompt you to purchase, sometimes even when it is something that you might have otherwise passed up.
The next time you are faced with an offer for something free, ask yourself if you are only making the purchase to get the freebie. It may just not be worth your cash.
Keep these sales tricks in mind, and their solutions, to make sure that you are in control of your own spending.