This probably isn’t the most novel observation in the world, but it would certainly seem that a great many people get “tricked” into spending more than they normally would by the lure of coupons and discounts (cue Captain Obvious). These “fake-ish” coupons and deals come from everywhere: newspaper clippings, TV and radio offers, Internet promotions, fliers, smartphone apps. We are inundated in the idea of saving money—from piggy bank iconography in our childhood to the very real need to save for retirement as we grow older. If there’s the word “save” and the dotted line around a box, it feels and looks like savings.
But are you really saving money if you’re spending it? That seems to be a paradox. The money you just spent is not actually still in your pocket, contrary to what many advertisers would have you believe (you might remember common advertisements slogans such as “spend more, save more!”). But beyond just a general distaste from deceptive advertising, what can we learn from those pesky “coupons and discounts” that actually burn holes in our pockets?