How to Save Money Without Falling for the Catch

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“That’s a good deal, but what’s the catch?” How many times has that thought crossed your mind whenever seeing an ad in the paper, email blast in your inbox or even a promotion for cash back rewards in the Ibotta app?  I know that question is always in the corner of my mind when scouting out good deals.  And if you ask those who are pushing the promotion, they’ll most likely tell you there is no catch; it’s just a great way to save money. However, I’m here to tell you their response shouldn’t put your mind at ease because they’re lying! There is definitely a catch. The catch is to lure you in for one thing while persuading you to purchase other items that you don’t need. Judging by the comments on some of my posts, many of you have caught on. But don’t let the existence of the “catch” stop you from taking advantage of a great deal. Follow my tips and you”ll never fall prey to the catch again.

That sale is probably followed by a catch, but that doesn't mean you have to fall for it.
That sale is probably followed by a catch, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall for it.
  1. Set up a separate email address for promotional emails.

I am the queen of promotional emails and coupon codes. As I write this, I have over 1,000 emails in my inbox with once in a lifetime offers, limited time sales, and get-it-free taglines. I’m not gonna lie; when you’re a bargain hunter like me seeing email subject lines like those are pretty hard to resist. It takes a lot of will power for me to not jump out of my seat and snag whatever deal the retailer is promoting. That’s why I decided it was best to create a separate email account just for store newsletters. Rather than being tempted to jump on every sale that enters my account, I can now practice self control by venturing to my “newsletter only” email address to scour deals when it’s time to purchase . That means less chance of impulse shopping. Out of site; out of mind. And if you are worried about missing a great way to save money, don’t be. In my experience good deals usually strike my inbox more than once.

2. Keep a list of wants and needs

It’s hard deciphering between needs and wants when a sign saying  “Buy One Get One Free” or “50% off Closeout Sale” is staring you down. To combat this issue, I suggest keeping a list of wants and needs handy. If the fabulously priced item isn’t already on the list, chances are you don’t need to purchase it even if  the sale really is one that “can’t be beat”.

3. Limit how often you go to the store

No matter how strict I am with my budget and shopping list, “all the pretty things” syndrome seems to hit every time I go into the store. I’m always tempted to buy that nail polish color that’s on sale or pick up that great smelling lotion for my husband even though it’s not part of the plan.  That’s why I try to limit my shopping trips as much as possible. I do thorough grocery shopping once a week or once every two weeks. And every time I do my shopping, I check my list over twice to make sure I didn’t forget anything. In the moments I realize I have forgotten something I try hard to do without until my next scheduled trip. Otherwise, I may run out to the store to pick up the pasta I forgot and return home with pasta, fruits, cookies, and a magazine. (I know I can’t be the only one to do this!). So forgo those random stops to the store just because and stick to a shopping schedule. You’ll be less likely fall pray to the “catch” disguised as deals and save more money that way.

4. Avoid Ibotta until needed

I know this may sound strange considering the amount of times I promote Ibotta on this blog. However, I must admit that while it may be a silver lining when it comes time to save money, it’s the devil when it comes to the catch. For those who aren’t familiar with the app, Ibotta lets you earn cash back for purchasing certain items. While its great and super exciting to learn you can earn money for buying that bag of hot pockets, its horrible for luring you into the “catch”. Basically, Ibotta can convince you to purchase items you don’t need or have no interest in since they are “paying you to buy it.” But that doesn’t do you any good if you are spending money on something you don’t actually care about the item.

Instead, avoid Ibotta until you are ready to make your grocery list or go to store. That will help stop you from falling for the catch and buying something you don’t need.

5. Do the math

Stores love to advertise special prices on signs to make you buy the product now rather than later. But I’ve found that many times it’s not a special price at all. I’ve caught my beloved grocery store, Wegmans do this a few times. They almost caught me with a special ad that said “Special Buy: 5 for $5” The bargain hunter in me couldn’t help but get excited. The skeptic in me decided to determine what the regular price is. Upon further investigation, I learned the special buy wasn’t special at all, since the product is always regularly priced at $1. Had I not done the math I would have spent unnecessary money on something that wasn’t that special all.

What measures have you taken to save money while avoiding the catch?

TERRIfic Quip: From the errors of others, a wise man corrects his own.

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  1. I needed to read this post! I’m in the process of trying (really trying) to save money because I’m preparing for a big international move, and I know these tips and reminders will come in handy for me!

  2. I like your point about differentiating between needs and wants (most times the thing that I feel like I must have is only a want :D. This is something I have to remind myself of all the time. Great Points!

  3. Great tips. I really like #2, I try to do that with thrift store shopping especially! While you can’t be too specific when thrifting, I try to at least have a general list of what I am looking for, otherwise everything looks like a great deal!

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