How You Feel Affects How You Shop

Have you ever looked at something you just bought and wondered, "What was I thinking when I bought this?" Advertisers and salespeople are very good at using our weaknesses to encourage us to buy. If you know what types of situations or emotions make you an easy sales target, you'll know when to be extra careful.

See if you recognize yourself in any of these stories:

  • Juanita tells her friends that she always gets the best deal. She never pays full price for anything. Lately she has been spending more than she would like. She bought some clothes on sale that don't match the rest of her wardrobe. Last week, she bought three packages of candy that were less than half price, though she doesn't really like it. Instead of being a smart shopper, the sales are now controlling Juanita.

  • Are you a sale-shopper? If you begin to buy things just because they are on sale, you may need to start shopping with a list. Or check your shopping cart and put back impulse items before you get in the check out line. Be especially careful of sales people that push you to buy because " this price is just for today."

  • Kate has been under a lot of stress lately. She and her boyfriend have been arguing. Her mother wants Kate to move out on her own. Kate likes to go shopping with her friends. She feels better after she gets out of the house, and being with her friends cheers her up. She used to enjoy just looking. Now she has to buy something before she feels better. Last week, she went shopping after an argument with her mother. She bought two dresses while shopping with her friend.

  • Joe lost his last two jobs when the businesses closed. Now he only has a part time job. Joe's friends always seem to have more money than he does. They have cars and wear more expensive clothes than he does. Last week, Joe found a designer jacket that both of his friends have. He convinced himself that buying the jacket was okay because he deserves it. He works hard and it's not his fault that he has had bad luck.

Do you like to go shopping when you are depressed? Being with a friend or just getting out of the house may make you feel better. Yet buying things on impulse may end up making you feel worse instead of better. Try meeting your friends at the park or other place where there is no shopping. A phone call to a friend or a walk around the block may also lift your spirits.

Do you find yourself defending your purchases? Do you say to yourself, "I deserve it?" Try to make up a budget that allows you a few dollars each month that you can spend on whatever you want. If you plan to have a little fun money, you may not feel so deprived.

Advertisers and salespeople know how to find our weaknesses and appeal to our emotions. Next time you are about to buy something that you hadn't planned for, ask yourself if you really want the item or if you're buying because of how it makes you feel.

Prepared by Karen Chan, Extension Educator, Consumer and Family Economics.

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