Shopping Buying on impulse—it happens to the best of us.

It’s easy to do. You go to the store to buy a snack but get distracted and end up grabbing a new hoodie, a video game, and some earbuds.

You get home and realize you bought a lot of stuff you don’t really want or need, but you forgot popcorn—the very thing you went out to get.

How does this happen?

Store managers pay people to position items in the store so you’ll be more likely to buy them.

Check it out next time you shop; leave your money at home, and look at aisle displays and sale bins. The store owners use logic, psychology, and profitability to determine which items go in which places. Marketers want to draw your attention to items you probably never considered buying, but suddenly seem attractive and necessary.

When something is priced right, placed next to a cash register, and you have several minutes waiting in line to look at it, you decide you want it. The positioning pros win again.

Here’s how you even the score. Before you go into a store, make a list of things you need and stick to your list. Then:

  • If you’re going to the mall to hang out, leave your money at home.
  • If you’re just browsing, take a limited amount of cash to buy a soda or food, but not enough to buy anything substantial.
  • If you see something you really like, wait a day, and go back if you still want it.
  • Think of a big-ticket item you’re saving for—a tablet, an Xbox, or a smartphone—whenever you’re tempted to make an impulse buy.

Understanding merchandising techniques helps you resist impulse buying and buy the things you really want, not just things that catch your eye.

Those that resist those marketing efforts are the biggest winners.

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