9 reasons you overspend

Pricing is cleverly designed

It’s impossible to navigate the supermarket aisle or mall without seeing signs offering “10 for $10” or “buy one, get one free.” That’s how retailers appeal to your desire for a great deal with clever promotions that encourage you to spend more.

Researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., found that promotions that suggest buying multiple items prod consumers into buying twice as much as they do when items are promoted individually.

“This price tactic makes the price seem like a bargain,” Morwitz says. “Consumers anchor on the quantity suggested in the deal, like ‘10 for $10,’ and tend not to think too much about why they should buy less. They may not even realize that in some cases they do not need to buy the 10 units to get the deal.”

Retailers often drop dollar signs from their signs, promoting “10 for 10” instead of “10 for $10” because the dollar sign is equated with money and decreases the likelihood you’ll make a purchase.

Smart move: Do the math. A promotion offering 10 for $10 just means the items are $1 each. There is seldom a requirement to purchase the suggested quantity, which means you can buy the number you need and still get the deal.