Consumers should avoid overspending on sales

When people are trying to save money, they start becoming increasingly vigilant about identifying sales on items or in stores that they like. And while this is often a good way to trim a family budget, it must be approached with caution; that is to say, sales make it very easy to overspend in short order.

The idea of a sale is great, and they can often be a good way to save money, but they also have the potential to lead to a lot of spending a person didn't intend, according to a report from Forbes. For instance, let's say someone who's trying to save a bit of money sees that their favorite big retailer - like Target, for example - is having a sale, and they've been meaning to buy some new clothes for a while. So they go there intending to buy clothes, but they see some other stuff on sale they like as well, such as furniture or video games.

What's the problem?
The issue, then, is not that all these items were on sale and would have cost more the week before, but that the person might not have wanted or needed to buy those extra items, the report said. That means that the bill for the shopping trip might have come to $100 when they originally went into the store only intending to spend $50. Now, if they'd purchased those same items before or after the sale, they might have spent $150 - so that appears to be a savings of $50 - but they actually spent $50 more than they intended. in the end, did they really save money?

The trick here is to make sure that when shopping for discounted items, to stick to the list as closely as possible, the report said. Trying to save on an individual item is easy; trying to avoid buying additional items usually isn't.

Other issues
Meanwhile, coupons might not always save money, even if they appear to do so, the report said. For instance, if a person has a coupon for "Buy two boxes of cookies, get one free," that looks an awful lot like a free box of cookies. But outside uncommon circumstances like hosting a party, there's not often going to be a need for a person or even an entire family to have three boxes of cookies lying around. This is especially true if they only ever buy one box of cookies, and even more so if they only do so occasionally at that. This, too, can quickly add to monthly costs above and beyond what is normally spent.

Families or individuals who are trying to save money in the long run may benefit from looking for productive ways to put those extra funds to good use. That could include paying down debt or building up emergency savings accounts that will end up putting them on a more solid financial footing going forward.

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