We are in difficult times for finances around the world. Also for companies, who see how it is increasingly difficult for them to sell their products and services.
In this fight between the consumer who wants to spend less and the companies that want consumers to spend more, there are winners and losers.
Today we are going to review some ways in which companies are taking money out of your pocket without you noticing. The goal is to help you as a consumer; that you identify these small involuntary consumptions that cost you money.
Recurring charges and renewals
When contracting many services, we skip the part of reading the fine print of the terms and conditions. And so it happens to us. The cancellation of the service explained that it had to be requested in writing 15 days in advance, for example, and we didn’t know it because we didn’t read the fine print. In conclusion, we have to pay for the service for one more month, even if we don’t use it.
The law requires companies to provide us with all of this information. And they give it to us. Another thing is whether we read it or not. On the Internet, it is generally enough to click where it says “I confirm that I have read the terms and conditions” to accept those automatic renewals of payment or with prices higher than those of the initial offer.
It can be tedious, but reading the contract conditions and marking the service cancellation date on the calendar so as not to fall into unwanted expenses is very simple.
It also does not hurt to review the charges on bank cards or direct debits in the accounts to avoid disappointment.
Another alternative is to pay a little more for subscriptions, but make them monthly instead of annual, so that, in the event of an error, the damage is less.
The gym we don’t go to
Gyms and sports centers know that we are fickle. That is why they charge tuition and require a minimum of fees after a single class. We come up and sign a pack of ten more classes, or we become members for a year. And we immediately regret it.
Much more often happens when we go hand in hand with a friend or family member. In theory, registering together forces both of you to go. However, as soon as one fails, the motivation drops for both of us. It is that of signing up as a paddle tennis couple for a tournament and then not being able to participate in either of them.
In the US they say that we go to the gym less than we intend and in many cases, these gym fees are used less than once a week (82%) or even less (60%). The fact is that we do not go to the gym or to unsubscribe, because we do not use it. And we keep paying.
To avoid this, pay a little more per session, but don’t commit to a significant number of sessions until you’re absolutely sure. Come on, do not sign up for a quarter to save, because it is possible that it will not exceed a month. And you know.
Buying online is very simple; return the things you don’t want or don’t like, not so much. They warn us that purchases must be returned with their usual packaging and it is the first thing we break or throw away. They explain the return process, including the maximum period for it, but we do not take it into account. Then we want to return the purchases and we cannot.
Let’s not kid ourselves, complicating returns is a good way to sell. And companies know it. A recent study indicates that 90% of those who buy on the Internet do not return things, but admit that they often keep them because they do not waste time with returns (58% of the time).
Do not tear the packaging when you open it, find out about the return policy, if there is a company that collects returns from your home and takes them away, if this has a cost, or if returns can be made in any store, for example.
Many clothing stores do this. They sell online, but accept returns in store. It is a way to encourage online sales, although there are always those who prefer to keep a garment that they do not like than make the effort to return it.
They say adult Americans have about $15 billion in unused gift cards. So yes, gift cards are a way to lose money. On the one hand, a British study stated that users spent more in stores with them. That I put a little more and… On the other hand, gift cards can be lost or expire.
To avoid losing money with gift cards -even if they come from changes or returns- it is advisable to use them soon and adjusting the new purchase to the amount.
Impulse purchases in checkout lines
Yes. It happens in almost all stores. The lines to pay are long and are surrounded by small low-priced items that we buy without thinking. These lines of checkouts encourage impulse purchases by 400% and reduce by 90% the fact that you leave without buying. There are always sweets, socks, trifles and nonsense, but we sting. We all sting. It’s hard to avoid, but be still and don’t take anything.
Big shopping carts
The bigger the shopping cart, the longer it takes us to realize that we’ve gone too far with our purchases. If we carry a bag over our shoulders, with little that we buy, what we really want to buy, we will notice the volume and weight and we will withdraw from more purchases. Avoid those carts or large baskets, lest you fill them up.
No coffee or exciting before going to the supermarket
A recent study indicates that caffeine induces impulse purchases, both in the number of things we buy and in their amount. It seems silly, but it’s better to go shopping and then have a coffee than the other way around. That coffee will cost you a lot of money and not because it is expensive.
Ads follow you around the Internet as if they were your pet down the hall at home. And they are irresistible because they respond to a query or request that you have made before. They are pushy and attractive, but you like them. A study affirms that the new generations do not dislike them and even find them interesting.
They also influence how you feel, according to another study. Because they appear when you have already made the decision not to buy they and they give rise to remorse. Depending on how your day goes, you can see them differently… and fall.
In short, companies want to sell and know how to convince. Protecting yourself from unwanted spending can be simple, but it takes some effort. Buying online is no less dangerous for your family finances than buying in a physical store because they all have tricks to get you hooked. Just being aware of your consumption habits can save you.