We’ve all snagged a Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Travel Tuesday deal and then been hit with a wave of buyer’s remorse. No matter how good a discount is, knowing you bought something you don’t really need or might not use is frustrating.
The most obvious way to solve this problem, and the advice many shopping experts will give you, is to make a list and stick to it. Do research on a product and leave it in your cart for as long as you can before purchasing.
Lauren Beitelspacher, an associate professor of marketing at Babson College who studies holiday shopping behavior, has some counterintuitive guidance to help you combat buyer’s remorse: budget in the impulse purchase.
Plan for your unexpected buys by adding an extra, for example, $50 to your shopping list and just accept that you’ll probably spend that on something you didn’t plan to purchase.
“People will go in for Black Friday deals or Cyber Monday thinking, ‘This is exactly what I want to buy and I’m not going to deviate,’” she says. “But oftentimes when you’re shopping you’ll see something you want to buy. The guilt might not come from buying it, but come from deviating from your list.”
Impulse purchases can have a higher rate of buyer’s remorse not because of what the product is, but because of how little you thought about it.
“As consumers, we typically go through a decision-making process,” Beitelspacher says. “When it’s an impulse purchase you don’t go through that thoughtful process. You see it and you buy it.”
Adding a line to your shopping list for an extra purchase or telling yourself that it’s OK to deviate from the plan can quell some of those uncomfortable feelings.
“I think if you tell yourself, ‘I’m going to give myself a little wiggle room for an impulse purchase’ then you are going through that decision-making process even if you don’t know what category it’s in,” Beitelspacher says.
Quickly looking at reviews of a product before you buy it can also help you regret it less, she says. If the reviews are good, you’ll feel a little more like it was worth the extra money.
Remember, though, it is a spending holiday offering some pretty good deals. It’s okay to take advantage of them sometimes, Beitelspacher says: “We got to allow ourselves a treat.”
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