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Who doesn’t enjoy shopping? It’s fun to splurge and get a little something for yourself from time to time. However, if you aren’t careful, a little something can turn into many somethings and a serious case of buyer’s remorse.

But fear not, I have put together a short list of surprisingly effective sales strategies to which countless consumers have repeatedly fallen victim. Being aware of the techniques that are designed to make you spend more can help you better protect yourself from overspending! Read on for several sneaky sales tactics to look out for and avoid at all costs.


Free Shipping for a Minimum Purchase

The offer of free shipping for online orders that total over a certain dollar amount are great when you already planned to spend more than the minimum threshold on things you actually need. But be weary of adding unwanted or unneeded items to your online shopping cart solely for the purpose of saving a few dollars on shipping. Online retailers have the last laugh when they coerce you into spending twenty-dollars more than you’d planned (on something you didn’t really want) just for the gratification of knowing that you saved $4.99 on shipping.

Free Trial Periods

A free trial period is great if the product or service is something you know you will use in the long term. But be wary about signing up for something just because it’s free. A free trial for a streaming service you know you will use beyond the complimentary window is probably a good move. But signing up for a free trial of roadside assistance when you already get it through your insurance company is probably ill-advised at best. Companies prey on the forgetful and count on collecting your membership fees until you finally get fed up enough to call in, wait on hold, and cancel the product or service you didn’t even need in the first place.    


Shopping Solely Because a Store is Having a Sale

I’m not suggesting that it’s a bad idea to wait for a store to have a sale. I usually try to time clothing purchases to the Nordstrom Anniversary or Half-Yearly sales because I know that they mark down full price inventory that will be marked back up at the end of the sale. But what I am warning against is spending money on things you don’t need just because a company is having a sale. Unlike Nordstrom, many stores will mark inventory down that is going to an outlet or discount retailer at the end of the sale (where it will sell for an even lower price). You’re better off saving your money and paying full price for something you actually need than succumbing to the idea that because there is a sale going on, you should buy something. 

Mail in Rebates

Mail in rebates can be ok if you are diligent about filling them out. Some companies will even let you submit the form online. However, if you find that you forget to send in the paperwork more often than not, you may want to consider looking for an offer that doesn’t include a rebate or setting multiple calendar alerts to make sure you actually follow through and don’t become one of the countless Americans that intends to fill out the rebate form and never does. Retailers, collectively, make millions of dollars a year on people that forget to send in their rebate forms.


Misleading Markups

There are plenty of national (and local) retailers that do this. They will mark up the price to a number that they have never actually charged and then mark it down to make it seem like the product is on sale. This kind of deception has led to legal trouble for several businesses. But don’t let it lead you to overspending. One way to avoid this type of deception is by reading the fine print and looking for legal disclaimers about the pricing. Another is to comparison shop. Just because Macy’s tells you it’s on sale does not mean that what you are buying is actually on sale. You can use a barcode scanning app to see what other retailers are selling the item for and quite possibly even find it cheaper somewhere that the item isn’t even listed as being ‘on sale’.

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