Shopping Triggers and How to Curb Them: Bargain Hunting

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

The more I blog about shopping triggers, the more they seem to pop up all around me. Here’s another one I have encountered three different times – just today.

I saw that Gristedes has grapes on sale, so you can save over $2 per pound. Our new grocery store Whole Foods promises that you can save on beef tenderloin. A furniture store advertises savings of over 50% when you buy their lounge chairs and side tables.

What is wrong with this picture? Well, for starters, if you spend $5 on grapes, you have spent $5, not saved $2. Just as with stocks and funds, yesterday’s price is irrelevant. Neither your budget nor your cash flow cares that the lounge chair you bought for $200 would have been $400, had you bought it a week earlier.

The problem is, this logic lures many less informed consumers into spending large amounts of money. And so advertisers keep at it, making us think this makes perfect sense. But similar to credit card spending, you first need to consider your financial situation and your budget. If you cannot afford a $200 lounge chair, the fact that it is reduced from $400 does not make buying it any less of a problem. Keep this in mind, and you will have conquered yet another shopping trigger!

Check out the other articles in our series on Shopping Triggers.

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