If you've ever come home after shopping and wondered, why in the world did I buy that, the answer might have to do with your personality type.
Believe it or not, there is an entire field of behavioral science devoted to studying why people buy the things they do.
Studies find that it's part of our psychological makeup to do the same things over and over again. Essentially humans are pretty predictable, and stores take advantage of that to get us to buy more.
Shopsmart magazine editor Lisa Lee Freeman has identified several shopping personality types, and she offers advice for each type of shopper to cultivate some savvier buying habits.
Shopping Type: The Touchy-Feely Shopper
You're a shopper who picks something up and then usually buys it. In fact, research shows that if you touch or pick up merchandise you're more likely to buy it. That's why retailers purposely put inviting items like coats and cashmere sweaters in easy-to-touch locations.
How to fix it: It will take some discipline, but you'll have to learn to keep your hands to yourself.
Shopping Type: The Mall Lingerer
These shoppers take their time going through a store. Studies find that shoppers who spend 30 to 60 minutes in a mall spend an average of $72.70. If they linger three or more hours, the figure jumps to $200.40.
Stores know this and so their floor plans are designed to keep you in there for hours on end so you'll buy more. Ever notice that to get to the next floor on a store escalator you have to walk halfway through the store to get to that escalator? That's not by accident.
How to fix it: The problem is people like this are just mesmerized by all there is to buy around them. To break free of the store's clutches, plan your route and set a time limit. Again, discipline is key, especially around the holidays.
Shopping Type: Guerrilla Shopper
The guerrilla shopper is the opposite of the mall lingerer. This person waits until the last minute, especially around the holiday season, and then runs around frantically, trying to get all the shopping done in one shot.
This person also shops infrequently. Studies find you are more likely to overspend if you do this rather than making several small trips. People who shop once a week have a 66 percent chance of making at least one impulse buy, while those who shop three or more times a week have a 57 percent chance of an impulse buy.
How to fix it: Shop more often. Break your shopping trips into more frequent, manageable outings.
Shopping Type: The Sales Junkie
These people are subjected to a spillover effect. If they see one bargain, they think everything in the store is a bargain, making you apt to spend more money. For instance, some dollar-store items (like peroxide, tomato sauce and Gatorade) are sometimes cheaper at supermarkets/discount stores. Warehouse stores like Costco may be a bargain when it comes to batteries and cereals, but less so when it comes to items like digital cameras.
How to fix it: Before leaving the house, do some price comparisons online. You might also want to shop at different stores. If you find a big-screen TV at Costco, it doesn't mean it's the best deal.
Shopping Type: The Social Shopper
This type enjoys shopping with friends and almost never shops alone. Studies find you're more likely to buy on impulse if you're shopping with someone else. And the more people you're shopping with, the more your chances of a splurge increase. People shopping in groups egg each other on to buy.
How to fix it: Don't be afraid to go it alone. But it doesn't have to be an absolute — go alone this time and maybe with friends the time around.