5 Expensive Shopping Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

Updated: November 11, 2020

I can understand why people love shopping. It’s fun and it feels good to spend. And as long as you don’t buy stuff you cannot afford, then you’re okay in my book.

However, having the money to spend doesn’t excuse you from making smart spending decisions. That is unless you want to end up broke and bankrupt in the future.

Check and see if you commit these common mistakes when shopping, and then learn how to avoid them by doing one simple strategy.

1. Buying because it’s on SALE

If you don’t need it, don’t buy it, even if it’s on sale.

Besides, most of the things that go on sale are excess inventory, out-of-season items, previous-generation models, and “ugly” stuff that people passed over for better items when it was at regular price.

Granting if it’s something you need (or have always wanted to buy), but cannot previously afford, then it’s okay to get them.

2. Buying because it’s cheaper than anywhere else you know

A Lacoste polo shirt costs USD 90.00 in New York, that’s around Php 3,600.00.

When an American friend saw them selling for only Php 2,500.00 in a local bazaar (yes, they’re original) — he went crazy and bought four!

I would understand if Lacoste polo shirts are his favorite, but they’re not. He bought them just because they’re so much cheaper, and even if he can afford it, I think it’s a mistake to get them.


3. Buying because there’s a free item or to join a promo

A few months back, I went out to buy a pair of jeans. At the register, the boutique cashier told me that I was Php 50.00 short of getting a free eco-bag and to qualify for their raffle promo where I could win an iPad.

Upon hearing her, my friend told me to buy something cheap, a pair of socks maybe or an undershirt, so I could get the freebie and the raffle ticket.

I refused because I don’t need an eco-bag, and I already have an iPad. If you were in my shoes, would you?

4. Buying extended warranties

Warranties can save you from costly repairs when a gadget or an appliance breaks down, thus making extended warranties seem like a good expense to take, right?

Wrong, because the initial store or manufacturer’s warranty is often sufficient.

Minor malfunctions usually occur within the standard warranty period, while major problems normally happen many years later and well beyond the extended warranty term.

Additionally, by that time, it’s often more cost-efficient to simply buy a new one rather than spend on repairs for highly-depreciated appliances because manufacturers design these things with planned obsolescence.

5. Buying more than what you need

You’re out to buy a new bedsheet, and saw this sign at the store:

  • 1 Bedsheet: Php 500.00 each
  • 1 Pillowcase: Php 200.00 each
  • 1 Bedsheet and 2 Pillowcases: Php 600.00 per set

Most people I asked chose the last option, the bedsheet and pillowcases set, because it is the best deal among the three. If it were you, what would you do?

Remember, you only needed a bedsheet, so don’t waste Php 100.00 on pillowcases.


How To Avoid These Mistakes

When faced with a purchase, ask yourself first:

“Do I need it?”

Then ask yourself again:

“Do I really need it?”

Then finally, ask yourself this question:


It only takes 30 seconds to answer “Yes” to these three questions.

If it took you longer, then you don’t really need it now… maybe later, most probably never. So it’s best not to buy it, even if you can afford it.

BONUS READ: Five Types of People That Really Spend Too Much

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Photo credits: 69er and dreams


  1. Hi! I’ve been following your site since I have encountered it on the Internet.

    The tips here are really true in empowering my financial life.
    This article is great but I don’t agree on some of it.

    One is the freebies/promotions you get in buying stuff. Eco-bag is a must nowadays since it eliminates the use of disposal plastic bags that could harm us in the future. I think that having extra eco-bags is very convenient especially if you are packing for a trip. Also, you could have won some of the free tickets you could have from spending. But, doing this in excess (which I think is the one your pertaining to), is bad, that is, say there is a promotion for P2000, P5000 and P10000 for a very big prize. If you have already purchase around P1950, it’s not bad to buy an exact P50 merchandise to avail freebies/free tickets. But, going beyond this bracket of promotion is bad.

    Another one concerns the extended warranties. In order to cut spending and further increase their sales (as they don’t want REDs on their balancing sheets), multinational companies tend to use substandard materials so that the optimum efficiency of their products can be felt only for the first year of use. I think, if the extended warranty is not too much to hurt the budget, say add a few hundreds to the price of the product, can be a big help since purchasing a new product is costly. I believe that you should have a threshold amount if you want to avail the warranty to secure the future use of the product.

    Just my 2 cents.

  2. Even if I dont need it, i cant help but I get to buy stuffs especially when these items are on sale and has big discounts. It’s like a treat for myself.

  3. Hi Ron,

    Thanks for your insights.

    My decision not to spend more just to get the freebie and raffle ticket is because first, I already have many ecobags and even a foldable shopping box. An extra ecobag would already be clutter at home for me.

    And second, odds of winning a raffle promo is very low, so I don’t really exert effort or spend extra cash just for me to be eligible, and especially if the prize is something I don’t need. These promos emotionally encourage us to spend more than what we have to, and we have to be conscious about it to avoid being tricked into spending more.

    Also, what I noticed in my spending when I started tracking them years ago is that, these little expenses can add up to a huge amount in the end. That’s why I try to avoid them as much as possible.

    Furthermore, I’ve tracked most of my appliance purchases for my parents, my apartment and my businesses – and observed that they never really needed major repairs within the extended warranty term.

    And those which needed minor fixes usually didn’t cost as much as the extra fee for the extended warranty.

    It also helps to know the manufacturer’s warranty, which normally goes beyond the store warranty.

    I remember the ceiling fan in one of my stores breaking down after a couple of months after the first year. While it’s no longer covered by the store warranty, I discovered that the manufacturer’s warranty is 2 years. So I just brought it to the service center and got the repairs for free (they replaced a part of the motor).

    Of course, one should always buy the better quality appliances that have a record of durability and helpful customer service. And always ask for the details of the warranties. Some extended warranties have different terms and less coverage than the standard warranty – so be sure to be aware of this.

    In any case, what helps me evaluate these stuff is to learn about the useful life of an appliance, and prepare myself to buy a new one once that comes.

    For example, the lower-limit life expectancy of a microwave oven is said to be 5 years. So I plan to buy a new one by that time, but hold off the purchase until the old one becomes unusable, of course.

  4. There are points where I agree and there are points where I don’t agree. I’m all for not buying the things that you don’t need. But for some promotions, I think they might be worth it. I mean if it’s only another 50 pesos for a free eco bag, I might go for it because I find that eco bags are useful especially here in Quezon City. At the same time, if I did end up winning the iPad, I can sell it and make a profit out of it. That’s only if it’s like a 50 pesos (2 digits) margin. Anything more than that, I wouldn’t just cave. I’d apply your rule of not overspending.

    What I do is that I wait for the sale season before I buy my stuff that I need or would need. I mean if it’s pretty much predictable that I would need red shirts for all the Filipino-Chinese occasions that I’m going to attend, or I’d need something new for the new year, I’d buy them and I’ll just wait for the occasion to use them.

    Just curious though, what is your opinion on buying stuff from wholesalers? For example, S & R?

  5. Hi Mervyn,

    If I needed eco bags, then it could be a good decision to spend the extra P50 – but the thing is I don’t need one because I have too many at home already. Also, while there is an iPad raffle, the chances of winning are very slim in my opinion, so I chose to just save the P50.

    Anyway, buying from wholesalers are okay as long as:
    1. The product you’re buying is cheaper than retail groceries.
    2. You have space at home for the bulk volume you’re getting.

    I’m actually a member of S&R because I buy stuff there that can’t be found easily (or anywhere else). Also, they have good and affordable items, which goes even cheaper when they have a sale. Plus I love their pizza – that alone makes the membership fee worth it. 😀

    However, I don’t do my groceries in S&R alone. I’ve done price comparisons and already have a general idea where to find the best prices in my area.

    Again, I’m not against buying when there’s a sale – I’m against buying items you don’t need just because it’s on sale.

  6. Caught you Fitz, you too love the pizza at S&R. Where I differ a little is food and survival supply storage. I am NOT a doomsday prepper nor am I waiting for the zombies to appear at my door but I do consider my storage supplies to be “HUNGER INSURANCE.” After all, you might purchase automobile, home or health insurance and then hope and pray you never need to use it. You pay for the insurance and the premium is gone! The canned, dried and long term food storage I have put away is my insurance against hunger. The good part is, the “premium” I have paid for the storage items stays with me We can eat every bit of it! This is one of the promises I made to my beautiful bride before we were married, that ” you will NEVER go without a decent meal or the things you need to prepare that meal.” We store what we eat and therefore it gets rotated out, never going to waste. Part of the logic is disaster preparedness. In my seven years and counting in the Philippines, several times, flooding after a typhoon interrupted the delivery to our area of many products we use regularly, especially imported items.These items were not available again for many months. My goal has been to always have in stock more than we need to live past that “out of stock” situation. The other part of the plan is being prepared for a what if, like loss of income, interruption in my ability to access my money overseas or if my wife was unable to do her on-line gig. Very doubtful if all these bad things could hit at the same time but we stand ready to face what life brings our way. Understanding that floods and earthquakes are real risks we have the means to live regardless if the house stands or not. The gear we use for camping and outdoor activities will allow us to continue in relative comfort

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