How to Avoid Common Sales Traps Year Round

Are you a sucker for good deals? Can't resist a sale? Be careful when shopping because you may be falling for sales traps that don't actually save money.Have you ever spotted an amazing deal while out shopping?

One too good to resist passing up?

You may have fallen prey to the common sales traps stores advertise year round.

If you have, you’re not alone. It’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamor of sales signs and get confused by the fine print.

Often times, when you look back on purchases made during these sales traps, you’ll find you were slyly convinced to buy something or take advantage of some deal that ended up not being as good as it seemed.

If you are actually trying to save money while shopping, here are some sales traps you need to be ready to avoid year round.

Extended-Warranty Sales

You’re most likely familiar with this one. The time comes to purchase an expensive electronic or home appliance and as soon as you’re at the check-out counter, the cashier asks if you’d like to purchase the extended warranty to go along with with your new gadget.

When you purchase an expensive item and think of it breaking sometime down the road, the warranty can sound like a great deal, even at its pricey cost.

However, in most cases, the warranty is an expensive add-on that ends up being a waste of money.

Rarely do the items you purchase need the repairs covered by the warranty, and if they do need repairs of some sort, the repairs are usually deemed “natural wear and tear”, or the warranty is expired by the time you go to claim it.

Furthermore, most items already come with a free 12-month warranty that covers the same or very similar repairs and replacements as the extended warranty.

So before purchasing anything extra, read the fine print and see what kind of coverage your product already comes with. If you are still worried about costly repairs, start putting money away in a rainy day fund. You’ll be happy to have it if you need it, but you’ll still be able to use that money for something else if you don’t.

BOGO Offers

I’ll be the first one to admit that this offer can be exceptionally appealing. Whether it’s a buy-two-get-one-free offer, a buy-two-for-the-cost-of-one, or even a buy-one-get-one-at-half-price, these offers hint at big savings, and when the word “free” is thrown around, they can be hard to pass up.

If you genuinely need multiples of one item, then this can be a great deal. Unfortunately, it seems that more often than not, you’re buying multiple items because you fear missing out on a good deal.

If you don’t need three pairs of shorts, even if you’re not getting a discount just for buying one pair, then you aren’t necessarily saving money by buying multiples.

Instead, you’re wasting money by buying a second pair of shorts you have no use for. Take time to really consider whether or not you need the item before falling for one of these BOGO offers. Most of the time you’ll find that you don’t need more than one.

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Being Convinced to Buy the Trendy Thing

Even though a sales associate may tell you something is the “hot” new item that just can’t seem to stay on the shelves, it doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Usually when a sales person directs you towards this item, it’s because it’s going to cost you a pretty penny and they get paid commission for selling it to you.

This doesn’t mean you can’t ask for assistance, just make sure you also take the time to look at all your options instead of believing the first thing you are told.

Plus, once the excitement around the item wears off, you’ll be able to purchase it for a much better price. It may not always be fun to wait for an item, but if it’s not something you desperately need right this moment, waiting a few weeks or a month could save you major dollars.

Gift Card Catches

This particular trap isn’t always so obvious, especially when you’ve been looking for a gift all day and a gift card seems like the perfect solution. However, not all gift cards are great, and some come with some fine print regulations you may not be aware of.

For starters, make sure you ask whether or not the gift card has an expiration date, as many cards expire or start deducting an amount from the gift card if it hasn’t been used after a certain amount of time.

If you purchase a debit card-like gift card that can be used anywhere, you may be charged a fee to buy the card if it has a credit-card logo on it.

Instead of falling for one of these options, it may be a better idea to give cash or write a check. These never expire and can be spent anywhere the user chooses.

Deep Discounts

When stores offer you a discount of 30%, 40%, or 50% off a price, or better yet, an already discounted sale price, it can seem too good to be true.

Unfortunately, in most cases, you’d be correct. Although that can seem like too enticing of an offer to pass up, you may want to do some research before you go ahead with your purchase.

Often times, that large discount price you see isn’t actually a discount. Stores have a habit of offering you a discount on an item they’ve priced above their normal retail value.

For example, a store may try and sell you a coffee pot for $60 that’s been discounted from its regular $70.99, when it really has a retail price of $59 on any other day or weekend of the year.

Or a store may try to sell you a coffee pot for the incredible price of $100, telling you it’s at a 30% discount, when originally the coffee pot was $80 to begin with.

Another trick I’ve noticed is at one of my favorite clothing stores. They will commonly offer an extra 50% off of items on their sale rack.

Once when I was bragging about how much I’d saved, I peeled back the “sale” sticker to find that the item had only been marked down $0.01 before being placed on the sale rack for an additional 50% off. So I didn’t end up with as good of a deal as I originally thought.

The most important takeaway is to shop around and compare prices before you buy. That way you’ll know you’re getting the best deal possible and you’ll know you’re actually saving money.

When you’re caught up in a shopping trip and trying to find the right things to buy, it’s easy to get sucked into gimmicks and sales. But, with a little research and by being aware of retailers’ tactics, you can shop smart and avoid the sales traps that so many others fall into.

What are some ways you shop smart? Have you ever fallen for any sales traps?