Ghosts and goblins aren’t the only spooky things at stores these days. In an attempt to be savvy shoppers, many consumers go hunting for deals but end up making scary spending mistakes that cost them more in the long run.
When it comes to bargain shopping, there’s a fine line between successfully saving and wasting money. With so many promotions and coupons offered by retailers, it’s easy to lose focus on what you really need and get distracted by the possibility of scoring a discount.
Avoid These Six Scary Saving Mistakes
Unfortunately, there are several saving strategies that are actually doing more harm to your budget than good. In this article, I’m going to point them out so can you avoid them in the future.
1. Assuming Sale Prices Are the Best Deals
Whether a retailer is promoting a storewide sale or offering a coupon, don’t assume the sale price is the best price you can get. While it’s nice to get 10 or 20% off, wouldn’t it be even nicer to save 30 or 40%? Running a quick search online for a coupon code and comparing prices to see what competitors are offering may help you uncover additional savings.
Trae Bodge, a smart shopping expert at TrueTrae.com recommends using apps such as ShopSavvy to make in-store price comparisons and GiftCardGranny to find discounted gift cards. She says that “just because something is on sale, doesn’t necessarily mean that you found the best price.”
2. Buying More to Save More
The “buy more, save more” promotion is used by many different retailers, from grocery stores to big-box retailers, and it can compel shoppers to spend more money than they planned. Tiered offers such as $25 off $75 or $50 off $150 are designed to make you think you’re getting a better value when you buy more, even though the savings are usually the same percentage off.
When such offers tempt you, do the math to determine if you will truly get a better bargain. One way to reduce temptation is to shop with cash. That way, you can’t spend more than you planned in the first place.
3. Saving on Cheap Products
In your quest to save money, you may head to the clearance section or dollar store to find inexpensive products. No matter how little you spend on an item, though, something that doesn’t work well or falls apart is a waste of money. Often it’s smarter to spend more on quality, longer-lasting items.
That’s almost always the case when it comes to clothing and technology products.
Bodge recommends inspecting clothing items carefully to ensure seams and buttons are intact and that the fabric is of good quality. When it comes to tech items, she says to read expert reviews online to ensure the product will last and offers the features you need and want.
4. Applying for a Store Card to Get a Discount
Shoppers are often tempted to sign up for a new store card in exchange for a discount of 10 to 20%. But unless you shop at one particular retailer often, the rewards you get probably won’t be as useful as those you’d get from a bank-issued card offering cash back or miles. Store cards typically carry high interest rates with low credit limits and a lot of fees. And you may end up buying more just to benefit from the “welcome” deal on the store card.
If you’re looking to save money on a purchase, sign up for a retailer’s e-newsletter, as many stores send coupons to new registrants. For example, Gap offers new email subscribers 25% off full-priced items for a month — just for signing up.
5. Increasing Your Cart Value to Get Free Shipping
Many online retailers require you to spend a certain amount of money to qualify for free shipping. Such minimum order thresholds may be as high $100 before free delivery kicks in.
When faced with this delivery charge conundrum, make sure to compare prices across multiple online stores to see who has the best price and lowest shipping minimum. Spending a few extra dollars on the item in order to save on shipping might — or might not — end up being a better total buy, so factor the shipping cost into the overall price.
6. Overbuying Daily Deals
Daily deals create a sense of urgency and prey on our fear of missing out by promoting limited-time offers with significant savings. The fleeting nature of these offers make them all the more appealing, yet many of these deals expire quickly and end up going unused.
To avoid the temptation to overbuy, unsubscribe from daily deal alerts and take the apps off your phone.