Should you heed Dave Ramsey’s warning about these retailer tricks this holiday season?

Woman browsing electronics store.

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Don’t end up overspending on the tricks of retailers.

Key points

  • Dave Ramsey warned of some common tricks retailers use to trick you into spending more during the holidays.
  • You can avoid falling into this trap by knowing them in advance.
  • Beware of psychological tricks like colors and smells that compel buyers to buy more.

If you’re like most people, chances are you go shopping during the holidays. Unfortunately, when you walk through stores and retail establishments, you may end up spending more than you expected on your credit cards.

This is because retailers have a number of tricks they implement to try and convince you to break your budget and buy more than you need. The good news is that you can avoid falling victim to these traps if you shop well.

To help, financial expert Dave Ramsey has some tips on retailer tricks you can avoid.

Retailer tips to watch

Ramsey warned of many different shenanigans retailers engage in to increase your spending. Specifically, he said not to fall into the following traps that could lead to a busted budget:

  • Buy now, pay later: These payment plans can make your purchases more affordable by allowing you to split large costs into monthly payments. But, they will end up costing you more in the end – even if they promise 0% interest for a while. Ramsey warned that most people who sign up for one don’t make their payments until the promotion ends and end up incurring additional fees – and that even includes high-income households.
  • Sales that are not really offers: Ramsey acknowledged that some sales are legit and actually help you celebrate cheaper. “Shopping for deals and sales is actually a great way to make Christmas shopping more affordable – sales aren’t a bad thing at all,” he said. But, he warned that sometimes stores mark up the price only to lower it later. And he clarified that online stores that require you to spend a certain amount to get free shipping can be particularly dangerous because you often end up buying way more than you expected just to save a few bucks on postage.
  • Colors that encourage you to buy more: There might be a reason why retailers like to dress their stores in red and green – and it’s not just because it’s festive. “The color red creates a sense of ‘must act now’ and stores use it to target impulse shoppers a lot,” Ramsey warned. He suggested really taking the time to think about whether you need items with red sale tags designed to capture your attention.
  • Music: Could Christmas carols really be harmful? If you believe Ramsey’s advice, they might be. “During the holidays, Christmas classics might make you more nostalgic and more willing to buy things you hadn’t planned on,” Ramsey said. He also said upbeat music can encourage spending by increasing excitement.
  • Odors: Needs of peppermint and pine are holiday scents that can also evoke feelings of nostalgia and make you overbuy. Ramsey warned not to let those familiar, comforting scents tempt you to put too many items in your basket.

Should we listen to Ramsey?

Ramsey is absolutely right that retailers are using all of these techniques — and more — to do everything they can to get you to buy tons of stuff this holiday season. The good news is that it’s easy to thwart them. Just make a list before you go to the store and stick to it so you’re not tricked by store tricks into buying things you don’t really need in the end.

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