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Steer Clear of These 4 Sneaky Shopping "Traps"

We've all been there: You walk into a store to buy just one thing, but you end up leaving with a full cart and a lighter wallet.

If this sounds familiar, don't worry—it's not entirely your fault! Retailers use several sneaky psychological tactics to try to convince consumers to spend more.

You can avoid falling into these shopping “traps'' if you know what to look for. Learn to spend wisely by steering clear of the following common tactics:

1. ​Limited time offers and deals
Everyone likes getting a good deal, and retailers know that! Seasonal sales, clearance sections and two-for-one discounts are all designed to make us feel like we're missing out if we don't take advantage. Of course, it's great to score a discount on essential items, like groceries or supplies. It's also easy to use sales as an excuse for buying extra things you don't need.

What you can do: Unsubscribe from sales emails
​Retailers send messages promoting can't-miss deals and discounts daily—if not more often! Remove the temptation to overspend by taking your name off their email lists. It's as easy as hitting “unsubscribe." With a little internet searching, you can still find deals and discounts. The difference is that now you're planning for your purchases, then looking for bargains!

2. ​Free Shipping
Online shopping is quick and convenient, but it can also lead to overspending. For example, some online retailers will offer free shipping when your total reaches a certain amount. The free shipping isn't really “free" since shoppers tend to spend more money than they otherwise would. This tactic works because many people would rather buy an extra item than pay for shipping costs!

What you can do: Focus on your budget
Before adding an extra item to your cart to reach the shipping minimum, take a breather. Do you really need that item? Or, will you end up spending more overall just to get free shipping? Compare the totals with and without the free shipping and make the decision that's best for your budget. Remember, you're not saving money if you spend more than you planned!

3. Store credit cards
Many retailers offer store-branded credit cards, often with an enticing offer to save on your purchase if you sign up at check-out. But while credit cards can be a helpful financial tool, they sometimes make it easy to overborrow. This may be especially true when you get a discount by using them at your favorite stores. Another drawback is that store-branded cards typically have higher interest rates than traditional credit cards.

What you can do: Borrow smarter
Whether you have a traditional credit card or a store card, the best way to keep spending under control is to only borrow what you know you can afford.
Smart credit card use also means paying your bills on time and in full. You can set reminders for when your balance is due or schedule automatic payments through Wright-Patt Credit Union's (WPCU) Mobile and Online Bill Pay.

4. Shiny “end cap" displays
Retailers use end caps within the stores to promote “sale" and popular items. It's a marketing tactic used to get the attention of their retail shoppers to push various products. The problem is that if you start picking up items from the end cap you may end up overpaying and overbudget.

What you can do: Stick to your list
Make your list before you head to the store and stick to it. End caps are designed to get the attention of retail shoppers. If you adhere to your list, you'll avoid picking up additional items you see on the end caps and ultimately spending the amount you've set aside wisely. Also, many times you can find similar products in their regular aisles for the same amount if not cheaper.

​​Shop smarter, spend wisely
Now that you know some of the common tricks and tactics retailers use, you can shop smarter and spend wisely! Practicing wise spending is a good way to save more money, reduce over-borrowing and get ahead of debt. It can also help you increase opportunities to plan for the future and achieve greater financial flexibility and freedom! 

Find more tips, tools and resources to help you spend wisely at WPCU's online Education Center.