Hi, that's me!
Have you ever found yourself sitting on your couch in your sweatpants looking at your favorite blogger do a try-on and finding yourself like "OMG... I need that." Or, you're walking through Target and you see all. the. things. you want. If you've found yourself here, you're not alone. Welcome to the 2k18 life we lead. The past couple weeks especially, I'm SURE you've heard all about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale if you follow any fashion bloggers - you're sure to get a good deal.
You know the end-caps at Target...? The ones that have the orange price tags on each item and the big yellow sign that has the magic word 'clearance' across the front of it? The one that makes you feel like you need all the things. If the shoes aren't in your size, you're trying to shove your foot into the half size smaller than normal just so you can pay 75% off of those Target shoes that look so good. Or, that nail polish color you NEVER would have bought but it was on clearance for $3.24 so why not! Oh, and that is buy one, get one 50% off so of course you need it (in reality, you wouldn't have bought the full price item in the first place if you hadn't seen the sign). You actually didn't need any of the things that I had in my cart, but they were on clearance, so... there's that.
My passion for psychology and new(ish) found interest in budgeting brought me to do some digging into the psychology of money and sales. I have spent hours reading about it and wanted to share it to spread the word to others who feel defeated by sales.
The most satisfying article I found was by Consumer Psychologist and Ph.D Kit Yarrow, author of Decoding the New Consumer Mind. In the Psychology Today article Why Clearance Sales are Psychologically "Irresistible"? and TIME article Why Shoppers Just Can't Resist Clearance Sales, there are several reasons why Dr. Yarrow states why sales make people vulnerable and how to make better choices when it comes to shopping. I learned a lot about myself reading her articles... and next up, her book. Throughout my research, I've realized that it all ties into EMOTIONS. The top five reasons that Dr. Yarrow believes sales are fear of missing out, competition, assumed value, focus on saving not spending and capitalizing time on investment.
The two that struck out to me immediately were fear of missing out and focus on saving not spending.
Fear of missing out is the thought that during a sale, once a product is gone, it will never be able to be purchased again. The emotion that comes in this case is fear. We have all had that issue, right? You bought the cutest sweater in grey last year and you went back to get another and it's GONE. This is the exact emotion that sales pull at.
Focus on saving not spending is also something that is not conscious as I'm shopping but when pointed out, it is clear and very obvious. "Holy cow! Look how much you can save!", "BOGO Today!" and "Spend $150 and get $20 off!" can really catch a person. They don't stress how much money you're SPENDING; only how much money you are SAVING! This is on purpose (duh).
Things you can do to combat the evil wizards that are sales:
- Answer these questions for yourself: is it versatile? Are you purchasing something for one event?
- Use cash! Plastic doesn't help money feel real. Feel that paper being taken out of your hand. Gift cards, like plastic credit cards, are a "buffer" says Dr. Yarrow, and cause people to think of it as "free money."
- Stay away from online shopping! Shop in store. This way you can see the true value of the items that you are buying.
- Walk away from the chaos. Sales can bring a stress-like affect to a store that heightens emotions. Take a walk and a few deep breaths before making a purchase; it can clear your head! I always try to spend a full 24 hours away. If it is still on my mind, then I go back and pull the trigger.
- Don't buy with the intent to return. This is something I'm super guilty of. I NEVER end up returning it.
Hopefully the next time you're at that end-cap at Target, you'll have more tools to walk away and save your $3.24 to treat yourself to a Starbucks coffee instead!