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Beware the Sales Pitch

“Hey I’ll give you two toys next week if you give me yours today.” To a 6-year-old, this may seem tempting, but it still doesn’t solve the problem of being toy-less now. Sales people have the same motive as an eager 6-year-old: they want your toys. But think back to when you were a child; would you have really given up that toy? As you prepare for holiday shopping, be wary of special offers like these:

  • Time-contingent: “For a limited time only!” Anytime a person feels that they may miss out on something, rational thinking tends to slip. And “limited” sales often continue past their advertised end-date, or come back a week or so later.
  • Limits: “Only 4 per customer.” Just like with time, when a person feels limited, they’re much more likely to make rash decisions. So remember, just because you can buy only three turkeys, doesn’t mean you need to.
  • “Free” Gifts: Oh the temptation of that free commemorative glass, free lamp, or free shipping. Slap “free” across just about anything and you get people’s attention. But if you’re $10 away from a “free” gift, that gift is costing you $10 more than you were going to spend in the first place.
  • Discounts: OK, so discounts can be a great deal, if they’re for something already on your list. Stores are great at catching shoppers’ attention with 30% off this and $50 off that, but the discount is only as good the actual savings you receive. Why save $50 on a new TV if you’re going to end up spending $250 more than planned?
  • Watch the promotional credit traps. For example, 0% interest sounds great to start, but once it lapses your interest will likely be in the teens to high twenty's percentage rate. Sometimes the fine print will read that if you don't pay it off during the promotional time the interest accrues and then that gets added to the balance. Now you've increased the amount due on the original purchase.
  • Buying in Bulk: 2 for 1, 3 for 5 . . . sure it’s a great discount, but do you really need two toasters? Even though you’re getting a discount, if you were not going to buy multiples of something to begin with, don’t let bulk get the better of you.
  • Accessories: Stores love to place all sorts of enticing extras right where you can’t miss them—the register. Maybe it’s that matching necklace, or clearance pair of gloves. Either way, don’t let last minute temptations get the better of you.

If you’re in the market for a new stove, and there happens to be one with a promotion, great! Just remember, if it’s not on your list, do you really need it? Writing out a shopping list before you enter a store is always a good idea to help you avoid becoming a victim of the holiday sales come-ons.