For many consumers, shopping has turned into a sport where the goal is to score an incredible, unforgettable, brag-worthy deal.
“Price is king for people. Everybody is trying to find the best stuff for the best price,” said Jody Rohlena, deputy editor of ShopSmart magazine, published by Consumer Reports.
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Shoppers, take heed
Mark Ellwood, author of “Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World,” says that 25 percent of people are genetically programmed to receive a pleasurable rush of the chemical dopamine when they find a deal.
The dopamine makes them lose control and “keeps their wallets open.” If you think that happens to you, he recommends listening to calming music or taking a break at the food court.
The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, advises shopping around and being aware that the “sale” price isn’t always the “best” price.
Having an item’s manufacturer, model number, and other identifying information can help you get the best price for the item you want.
Take time and travel costs into consideration. If an item is on sale, but it’s way across town, how much are you really saving once you factor in your time, your transportation, and parking?
Look for price-matching policies. Some merchants will match, or even beat, a competitor’s prices — at least for a limited time. Read the merchant’s pricing policy. It may not apply to all items.
Go online. Check out websites that compare prices for items offered online. If you decide to buy online, keep shipping costs and delivery time in mind.
Calculate bargain offers that are based on purchases of additional merchandise. For example, “buy one, get one free,” “free gift with purchase,” or “free shipping with minimum purchase” may sound enticing. If you don’t really want or need the item, it’s not a deal.
To get more money saving tips, visit ftc.gov/MoneyMatters.