Is your weakness at the shops picking up a new belt or handbag every time you buy a new outfit – even though you hadn’t planned to? Or perhaps it’s snapping up a meal deal when you visit a fast food restaurant – despite knowing you could live without the extra piece of chicken or that large order of fries?
In fact, the main place where Brits overspend is the supermarket, corner shop, market or anywhere else where they sell groceries, according to a new survey* conducted for us. Doing the food shop is when half of consumers admit they are likely to splash more cash than they intended.
After groceries, clothing is the purchase people are most likely to overspend on, with a third of respondents admitting they end up spending more than they’d planned on additions to their wardrobe. This is followed by restaurant orders, technology and fast food meals – all areas where consumers claim that their final bill ended up being more than they’d intended.
And overspending isn’t something shoppers do once in a blue moon either. When asked for the last time they splashed more cash than they’d planned, more than one in 10 respondents said they had that day. A further quarter of those polled said they’d overspent on something that week, while another quarter had done so that month.
Acting on impulse
So why do people overspend? Well, it turns out many of them are simply acting on impulse. Two-fifths of respondents said impulse is the reason they overspend – marginally more than the number of people who spent more because they spotted a good deal. And one in 20 claimed they had felt pressured to spend more than they’d planned.
However, this overspending can all add up. Of those who do it, one in five revealed it had pushed up the final cost of their purchase by more than 20%. Nearly one in 20, meanwhile, said they ended up spending over 50% more than they’d intended.
Personal shopper Beth Goodrham, who runs the Style Guile blog, believes the unique allure of clothes could be responsible for such overspending. “Clothes have the ability to transport us to another world – a world that perhaps seems a little more attractive than our own! The colour, print, embellishment or shape of a piece of clothing can all be very powerful and from the moment that our heart skips a beat, and we imagine feeling a million dollars wearing something, the urge to buy can be hard to resist. “To avoid this take a step back, keep in mind what it is you really need to add to your wardrobe and remember, everything that is new, one day becomes old!”
The thing is, overspending like this can quickly eat into your funds without you even realising it – particularly if you do it regularly. It might just be a couple of buy-1-get-1-free deals a month at the supermarket, but when you add that to the side dish you had with your restaurant order, or the necklace you bought at the last minute to go with a new dress, it all mounts up.
It could be that as a result of this you get to the end of the month and realise you have far less money available than you thought. To avoid an unpleasant surprise like this, make sure you always go into a shop with a clear idea of what it is you need to buy – and don’t let impulse get in the way. If you see a tempting 2-for-1 offer, ask yourself if you really need two of the item.
By sticking to a budget when you hit the shops, you may have less chance of being unpleasantly surprised when you see your account balance.
*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 24Th July and 31st July 2014, of whom 620 were Scottish residents.