Financial Experts Warn of 'Spaving' Trend

Stories warn about the false promise of 'spending to save more' through supposed deals
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2024 8:30 AM CDT
Financial Experts Warn of 'Spaving' Trend
A shopper passes a display in a Costco warehouse.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Stores have been enticing shoppers to spend more so they can save more for ages, but in today's economy, financial experts warn that what's come to be known as "spaving" can backfire on one's finances. While the marketing ploy isn't anything new, CNBC, Fox Business, and CBS News all have stories exploring how spaving is contributing to Americans racking up record amounts of debt.

  • Ways we spave: Businesses have shown creativity in the ways they encourage more spending, including store credit cards, spending minimums for free shipping, subscriptions, and the classic "buy one, get one" deals. All are legal, savvy tactics that have proven effective in getting consumers to keep their tab going—and they're more common than ever: between March 2023 to 2024, temporary price reductions increased by 72% and overall promotions by 15%, per CNBC.
  • More debt: But spending to save isn't translating into savings. Fox notes that credit card balances rose 47% between 2021 through 2023, the steepest increase on record. At the same time, the amount of income going to savings has been decreasing, down to 3.6% in April compared to 32% in April 2020.
  • Deal FOMO: Money coach Nicole Victoria tells CBS that stores create a sense of urgency around deals that make them harder to resist. "It's about loss-aversion, or the perception of loss. You feel like you're losing money by paying for shipping, and you've invested time and resources into filling up your shopping cart, so you'd rather gain something more."
  • Hidden consequences: For many, padded receipts add to credit card debt, which can affect finances and long-term money goals. Incurring debt may tank credit scores, and in turn come back to bite someone who wants to purchase property or items that require financing down the line.
  • One suggestion: "The best way consumers can approach a spaving deal is to pretend it's not even there," says Kuderna Financial Team Founder Bryan Kuderna, "like they never saw it." He tells Fox that people can resist the pressure to spend more by making an effort to only "buy what you intended to buy."
(Huge credit card late fees may be going away.)

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