Extreme Bargain Hunters: How Far Would You Go for a Deal?

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womenshoppingEver snatched up a pricey stainless steel cookware collection—even though you can barely make toast—simply because it was a steal? If so, you’re not alone. Many American women purchase things for the thrill of scoring a deal.

According to new survey findings from Consumer Reports, 23% of women say they sometimes buy things they don’t need just because they’re on sale. For most of us, getting a discount is enough of a reward: 80% say they would hunt for a bargain even if money weren’t an issue for them.

In general, the survey found bargain shopping has increased significantly, from 76% in 2011 to 83% today. That shift may be due in part to the growing use of smartphone coupons, which has increased from 11% in 2011 to 24% today.

Human psychology may help explain the irresistible allure of a discount. Research suggests that people tend to enjoy bargains, regardless of whether any financial gain is involved. You might even be able to blame your bargain hunting on Mom and Dad, because some experts say genetic differences make certain people predisposed to finding pleasure in raiding the sale rack.

But beware the rush of happiness that comes when you spot a half-price pair of shoes. According to one consumer psychologist, when we’re excited by a bargain, we’re less able to discern whether the sale is actually a good offer (i.e., perhaps the sale price on those shoes is still more than you allot toward clothing purchases in your monthly budget).

Looking to get savvier when it comes to sales? Check out the new rules of smart bargain hunting in an era when discounts seem to be everywhere.