The following is a guest post. Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert who shows people how they can live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as NBC’s Today, Good Morning America, Dr. OZ, CNN, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, and many more. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook for daily savings posts.
We’re all guilty of making bad buying decisions from time to time, and that’s Okay. Just as long as you can identify the mistake and learn from it. However, when those occasional poor purchases turn into a behavioral pattern then you may have a much bigger issue on your hands. Paying little attention to your bad buying habits will ultimately effect your bottom line. Since these behaviors aren’t limited to spendthrifts either, it’s time to get a handle on your shopping indiscretions before it’s problem.
Here are 6 bad buying behaviors to kick before they become a habit!
1. Impulse Buying
Impulse-buying is an obvious starting point when discussing poor purchasing habits, but I was surprised to learn just how huge an impact it has at the grocery store. I recently read an article in Spirit Magazine that said impulse purchases represent over 50-percent of everything we buy at the supermarket. Sticking to your list and avoiding temptations at checkout, end caps and bargain bins will keep you from making this costly mistake. The best tip, however, is to limit the number of trips you make to the store. Plan ahead and aim to grocery shop just once a week. Otherwise, challenge yourself to shopping just twice a month and see how much you save. The same goes with bulk retailers and department stores: If you can’t control yourself, just don’t go into the store and shop online instead.
2. Unnecessary Upgrades
Most practical people would never purchase anything deemed unnecessary, but some salespeople do a great job of making things sound important. Extended warranties, for example, may seem like smart buys as your shelling out cash for a pricey electronic purchase. However, the manufacturer’s warranty is usually sufficient, plus some credit cards offer additional coverage.
Failing to compare prices or find coupons for a purchase is just pure laziness, especially with the abundance of apps and websites that make it easy to compare and save. I search for printable coupons using my phone app for in-store savings so I can access deals when I’m on the go. Plus, I often forget to bring the paper coupons with me. I also compare prices with the RedLaser app so I know I’m getting a good deal and use the data to negotiate or ask for price matching. Not much effort needed with these helpful tools!
The term “spaving” — not to be confused with the “perceptual contrast principle” — refers to “spending to save” and we’re all guilty of it. It happens when you intend to buy one of something, but end up with two, three or even 10 because of a “buy one, get one” promotion. Spending $50 to earn reward points when you only intended to spend $30 is another example. And finally, daily deals are the worst offenders, tempting you to spend money on dining, activities and even vacations because they’re such a good deal. Remember, these multiple deals are a marketing tactic designed to get you to spend more. Keep this in mind the next time you are tempted to stock up and shop with cash to reduce overspending.
5. Staying Quiet
I’m not a terribly confrontational person, but when I take the time to print a coupon or visit a store because of a promotion, I feel pretty cheated when I don’t get the discount. Too often, patrons will simply brush off the potential for savings in the spirit of politeness. However, it’s always best to speak up when you feel you’ve earned a discount in good faith. More often than not, retailers will honor a discount or coupon when you simply ask. Getting to know a sales associate is another great way to find out about upcoming sales or special promotions, so don’t stay quiet.
6. Applying for Store Credit
“Would you like to open a store card today and save 15 percent on your purchase?” The prospect of saving money is a powerful motivator, but opening store credit cards for one-time discounts is a bad habit. Doing so results in a “hard inquiry” on your credit report which can lower your score. High interest rates coupled with a barrage of marketing messages aimed at making you use the card more could land you in a world of financial trouble. Get in the good habit of saying “no” whenever a sales associate asks you about opening a line of credit.