Buyer’s Remorse: Is it a bargain or a bad idea? Sponsored posts from influencers and ads in social media streams motivate Americans to buy into the hype.

It’s the time of year when cash and credit fly around freely. But, it’s also the season of buyers remorse. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that social media influences Americans to spend money they don’t have on low-quality items they don’t want or need.

How do we know? Payless shoes recently opened up a fake pop-up store called ‘Palessi’ in a Los Angeles mall and invited unsuspecting influencers to the store’s “grand opening” for a first-look opportunity to purchase and promote the shoes. Influencers purchased shoes regularly priced at $19.99 for upwards of $500. At the end of the experiment, Payless returned the influencer’s money and let them keep the shoes they fell in love with, but there are some lessons we can learn from their social experiment.

While most of us haven’t found ourselves literally in these influencers’ shoes (or their predicament), most of us have been lured to purchase items we didn’t want or need until we saw ads for it in our social media stream or an influencer we admire posted something to promote it (with their own discount code, natch).

Impulsive spending is always a bad idea, but when you’re tempted to splurge, how do you determine if you’re getting a bargain or if buying that item just a bad idea?

How do you plan to pay for this purchase? That’s the one question you should ask yourself before laying down a credit card or even cash. If you’re planning to use a credit card and you carry a balance, even a “great deal” won’t be anything close to that by the time you pay off that balance. In fact, you’re likely to pay far more than the item is worth.

Deal? No deal.

Being savvy about making a purchase means taking the time to do your research – and evaluate whether you really need that item. A study looked at shoppers’ digital footprints and found that they can be used to predict behavior and determine creditworthiness. Credit card purchases made from mobile devices were three times more likely to default than those made on a desktop or tablet. Perhaps the reason shoppers default on these purchases is because most of these are made impulsively.  

You can just see buyer’s remorse kicking in. Something catches your eye while scrolling and BAM! A few quick clicks later and you’ve checked out, long before you’ve had a chance to consider what you’re purchasing and why. Interrupting or slowing down this process could save Americans lots of money (which is why retailers spend so much money on creating the perfect ‘funnel’). When you find yourself tempted to ‘go for it’ pull back.

Look at the item and ask yourself: Is this something you’ve thought about buying before? Why do you want to buy it? What will you use it for? What’s it made of? Where is it made? Are there any consumer reviews? Do they have a Better Business Bureau rating? What do other retailers charge for a similar item?

Odds are you won’t want to figure out the answers to most of these questions, or, while answering them you’ll realize you don’t want to purchase the item after all, saving you from splurging on something you’d probably never use.

Habits are hard to change, but they can be changed with a bit of effort. And when you find yourself really struggling to resist an impulse buy, remember this handy dandy phrase I’ve come up with: When in doubt, don’t check out!

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