There are many summer time sale offers, whether your interest is in video games, electronics, traveling abroad, or shoes. The combination of these sales, your monthly salary, and either a personal triumph or a personal failure may just breed the habit of retail therapy in you.

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Retail therapy is defined as “the act of shopping or spending to improve one’s mood”, according to a TIME magazine article on the subject. (http://business.time.com/2013/04/16/is-retail-therapy-for-real-5-ways-shopping-is-actually-good-for-you/) Who hasn’t indulged in the occasional whimsical purchase as a way of patting one’s self on the back for working so hard?

However, beware. Retail therapy can be both crutch and cargo. Retailers study the psychology behind money oh so well that they can use seemingly helpful behavior to the disadvantage of shoppers.

MSN Money for example lists down 23 different tricks of supermarkets to encourage shoppers to buy and buy more. Here are six of them:

  •  Carts are intentionally made large to encourage filling them up.
  • The simple strategy of providing an airy space at the front of a supermarket is designed to help shoppers feel less rushed and open to buying more.
  • The more expensive items are placed at the entrance of supermarkets because people are more likely to buy such items at the beginning of the shopping expedition, before a small fortune is spend on essentials. In fact, the more essential items are placed at the back so that the shopper is exposed to and entice to buy less essential ones along the way.
  • Special price offers are meant to seduce shoppers into paying for something they don’t usually buy.
  • Sachets highlight the absolute cash to be shelled out and not the cost per unit. Sachets can cost up to 60% more per unit that those that are packaged in bulk.
  • Loyalty cards gather essential data about buying habits, which is then used to tempt shoppers to buy more and more.

Remember that people have limited resources with which to live a comfortable life.  Every time there is a purchase, there is a tradeoff.

So to prevent the unnecessary use of limited financial resources, reinvest such resources first for a better future through schemes that automatically invest money without seeing it first.

Try also spending in cash and leaving behind the marvels of technology that seemingly make living (but in reality spending) more convenient. Leave your ATM, debit and credit cards at home after withdrawing only the cash that you have “budgeted” to spend. Uninstall shopping apps in mobile phones and disable location services that only track shoppers’ whereabouts so that retailers can better understand shoppers’ behavior and tempt them more effectively.

The better saying would be, “when the going gets tough, the tough go investing.”

(Originally written by Efren Ll. Cruz, RFP at http://www.savingstips.com.ph)

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