It’s that time of year when it starts to get cooler and the fall/winter fashions come back in style. I love this time of year. My wallet, however, does not love this time of year. If you are anything like me, I love to spend money on clothes and shoes for the fall and winter styles. I always want to keep up with the trends and sometimes it gets me in trouble with my husband’s and my budget.

Companies know that they can get suckers like me to purchase things by the way they advertise their new fashions. As consumers, we are constantly being pestered by outside forces to try and get us to spend money. Have you searched for a certain type of article of clothing and then noticed your Facebook ads all of a sudden match what you searched? For example, I am on the hunt for a winter dress for a wedding in February, and now my Facebook ads are all about dresses. Companies will pay money to know what you have been searching for, then in return have that ad shows on your Facebook.

If you think about it, it is a great strategy. Back to my dress example, I am shopping around, but I have found some things that I really like. The more I see a dress, the more I am going to think about purchasing it. Even if it isn’t good for my body type, I will still want to purchase it after seeing it for the 4th time because each time I look at it, I start to think, “Oh yes, I can pull that off.” In my head I start to justify the purchase and the next thing I know it’s on my door step!

Other ways retailers “get” your money is by luring you to sign up for a credit card or by offering a rebate to save money. For example, if you sign up for a rebate to save $25, they will send you a $30 gift card in the mail that can only be spent at their store. In the end you will return to the store and your probability of spending MORE than $30 is very high; making that retailer more money in the end! Same concept with the store credit card! The idea is to get the consumer back in the store to either see what they were debating on or to find another product that they probably don’t need.

How do you get around these tactics? The only way is to become a smart consumer. Pay attention to the “to good to be true” moments and read the fine print. Are you really saving, or is the company using it as a way to get you back in the door? If you shop online, know that they are using your history to provide ads to put that product back in your face. Remember to scroll past it and not think about it. Companies make money off of you spending money. They want to make it seem like you are getting the deal of a lifetime. Keep these in mind while you are out shopping for the holiday season!


— Anne Pitts is a Kansas State Research and Extension Agent for Harvey County. Family and consumer science is her specialty. The Harvey County Extension Office can be contacted at 284-6930