Shopping for Deals: When Saving Money Is Costing you Money


It’s easy to get caught up in the chase for the best savings. After all, when you see steep discounts and great deals, your instinct is to take advantage of the limited-time savings. However, it’s possible to spend more money because of deals.

How could that be possible, you wonder? Well, there are some psychological tricks at play that can fool you into thinking you’re saving when you’re actually spending. Read on to find out how your savings habit could actually be a spending habit.

Deals Are Exciting

It’s well-documented that deals and discounts excite people. For instance, when an item is normally $200, people are used to seeing it at that price. However, when an item that is normally $400 is marked down by fifty percent, people become excited about the possibility of saving $200.

In this case, people are falling victim to a logical fallacy. They’re seeing the discount at “positive money” for themselves, looking at how much the item normally is instead of how much it’s actually costing them. In reality, the item still costs $200, so the customer isn’t actually gaining anything by buying it other than the item itself.

Buying Things You Wouldn’t Normally

If you’re hunting for deals, you can get caught up in the chase. Clipping out coupons, using codes to get money off, and finding great deals can be all-encompassing in scope. By the time you realize how much money you’ve spent in the goal of saving money, you might not realize what has even happened.

Coupons and deals are only actually saving you money if they’re getting you discounts on things you were already going to buy anyway. If you normally don’t buy any coffee creamer, but a steep discount on coffee creamer gets you to buy some, you haven’t actually saved money. Instead, you’ve lost the $3 for the creamer and ended up with an item you’re unlikely to use.

Fear of Missing Out

The strongest factor driving this behavior is a psychological trick called “fear of missing out.” People are highly resistant to the concept of missing out on something special and limited to a specific amount of time. This drives people to use coupons with expiration dates or to buy into seasonal sales that are set to end soon.

Use these deals and sales to actually save money on the things you plan to buy and use already. If you let these deals direct your shopping, you’re going to spend more money than if you’d just ignored them in the first place.