First Person: 4 Retail Spending Traps

Yahoo Contributor Network

I am pretty frugal. I still have a standard cell phone and my family doesn't have cable. In addition, I don't have any expensive habits like daily gourmet coffee runs or weekly pedicures. Yet, I'm not as thrifty as I could be. Sometimes, clever marketing strategies trick me into spending more than I need to. These are four retail spending traps I try to avoid.

Gifts With Purchase

Many cosmetic companies have gifts with purchases. Typically, you spend a certain amount of money and then you receive a cosmetics bag full of other makeup and skincare items. It's nice to get items for free. However, if I need moisturizer for $20 and I have to spend $21.50 for the gift, I will sometimes end up purchasing nail polish for an additional $8. Thus, rather than spending $20 for the item I needed, I have now spent $28. To be economical, I try to purchase items that add up to the minimum amount necessary to receive the gift with purchase. In addition, I make sure that the free items are essentials that I would have to purchase anyhow, like sunscreen or face wash. To prevent overspending, I limit myself to one free gift with purchase a year.

Free Shipping

I shop online. On many occasions, I try to get free shipping. Sometimes this is economical, sometimes it isn't. After all, if the store wants me to fork out $100 to get free shipping, I might end up purchasing items I don't need. Most of the time I wait for stores to offer a "free shipping with any purchase" deal. This allows me to get my items shipped for free, even if I only spend $5.

Buy One, Get One Half Off

The other day I saw "buy one, get one half off" on accessories for girls. My daughter needed some new hair clips so I put two items in my online "shopping bag." Then, I realized this is only 25% off the total price. After looking at the clearance accessories, I realized I could buy one package of accessories for 50% off.

The $1 Bin

Some stores have $1 bins near the entrance. On occasion, I have been guilty of buying one or two items out of the bins. At the time, it seems like a smart purchase. However, if I spend $2 a month on these types of items, I would end up spending over $25 a year on knick-knacks. This is money that could be put towards a nice dinner. Thus, when I go shopping, I try to resist the $1 bin.

I love getting a deal. What I don't like is spending money on items I don't need.

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

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