How to Avoid 7 Common Spring Spending Traps

By Paul Michael on 30 March 2018 0 comments

Spring is here, and along with a much-needed change in the weather comes something we could all do without — spring-themed retail offer overload. You're going to be bombarded with deals and steals from every industry now that the snow is starting to melt, and you need to shut out the noise. Most consumers fall for the following seven spending traps year after year, but this year, you don't have to.

1. Spring cleaning mania

There's nothing advertisers love more than a seasonal term that can be branded. At the top of the list for this time of year is "spring cleaning," and retailers use every angle they can to get you to buy things you don't really need. First, they're going to tell you it's time to throw out the stuff that's cluttering up your home and garden. Get rid of it. Then, they're going to convince you to stock up on cleaning supplies and storage options (more on the latter in a second). Putting these items on sale makes the temptation even greater, and before you know it, you've filled your cart with cleaning products and shelving units. Don't fall for any of it.

Sure, if your house is packed with clutter, see what you can sell, what you really don't need any more, and what you can donate. Don't buy new cleaning supplies until you've used up the ones you already have. And if you're getting rid of things you don't need, then you probably don't need extra storage, either. At the end of spring cleaning, you should be left with more space, less junk, and maybe even a little cash. (See also: How to Spring Clean Your Whole Life — One Step at a Time)

2. Spend your tax refund!

Why would you want to let that refund sit in a bank account or pay off debt when you can blow it all on the latest tech gadgets? That's the mentality of almost every brand out there, and they are going to dangle offers in front of you that make spending your refund very enticing. Big screen TVs, home improvements, vacations, clothing, jewelry, carpet cleaning, and anything else you can think of will be thrown into the mighty "tax refund savings event."

Again, this is just a basic marketing trick to get to your money. And it's money that you are owed, and that should be spent wisely. Steer clear of spending your refund on anything you don't truly need, and put it toward paying down debt or saving more money for retirement. (See also: Most Popular Ways Americans Spend Their Tax Refunds)

3. New season? Time for a new wardrobe!

A new season means new clothing trends, and here's the pitch you'll be given by brands looking to sell you clothing, shoes, and accessories: "Forget all the spring clothes you bought last year. Let's be honest … they are sooooooo last year. Instead, donate them and get a new wardrobe full of the latest, greatest spring fashions!"

Yes, clothing trends change all the time, but do you really need new clothes that will be on sale in a few months' time? Is it crucial you get the same shirt you already own in the "hot new Pantone color?" And is it important to get it now, whatever the cost? You no doubt have a lot of garments from last year that are still in good condition. Wear those until they no longer fit or fall apart, and save your money for the more important things on your "to buy" list. (See also: 10 Smart Ways to Keep Your Clothes Looking New)

4. Spring break vacations

Vacation sites are pushing hard this time of year for spring break getaways, and with the kids out of school and the winter blues getting a lot of people down, it seems like a good time to indulge. However, it's also a peak time to indulge, and that means the vacation you book over spring break is going to set you back a lot more money than if you wait a few weeks later to book your getaway.

True, the kids won't be off school, and that can put a wrench in the works. But if kids aren't a consideration for you, or you ask the school to supply them with homework for the trip, you can save big bucks by avoiding the spring break craze. Also, spring break is associated with older teenagers and twenty-somethings going bonkers, and many of the popular destinations spots will be overrun by rowdy partyers looking to throw caution to the wind. If you don't want to be in the center of a booze tornado, avoid this time of year to travel. (See also: Why Timing Is Everything When Saving Money on Travel)

5. Trade in your old wheels for new

There's something to be said for getting a new car around springtime. Traditionally, it's when car dealerships start to discount some of the older models to make way for the new models coming to the lot. But like any deal, it's only a bargain if you need it. It can be hard to resist the discounts, with zero percent financing and 15 to 20 percent discounts on many models.

However, do you need a new set of wheels? How old is your car? How reliable is it? Don't fall for those circulars and direct mail pieces that dealers send out saying "we desperately need your trade." Well, of course they do. Dealerships make way more money on trade-ins than new models, and you will make their day by turning in a perfectly good car for a new model you don't need. (See also: 3 Reasons Why You Should Never Buy a New Car)

6. Outdoor deals aplenty

Camping gear. Backyard furniture. Grills. Fishing rods. Sports equipment. You're about to be presented with a buffet of outdoor deals that will get you ready for the warmer months ahead. Right now there is a desperate desire to get outside again after the cold winter season. But even though spring has sprung, the warmer weather can take a while to get here. In fact, many states will still see the occasional snowfall for the next couple months. All that new gear will be waiting to be used.

Instead of buying new outdoor gear, take advantage of the people who fall for the offers and sell their barely-used gear for cheap on Craigslist and eBay. Or just wait until the prices really dive toward the end of summer and stock up for next year.

7. 'Tis the gifting season … again

With St. Patrick's Day behind us, you'll see cards and gifts on display for Easter, Mother's Day, graduation, and even "spring greetings," whatever that is. The next few months are going to trick you into spending major moola if you're not careful. For starters, store-bought cards are incredibly overpriced and impersonal. These days, with superb home printers and free design software and templates, you can easily make a card for pennies that will be just as loved by the recipient. Homemade presents and baked goods are always loved, and spending quality time with mothers and grads is more valuable than buying fancy gifts. (See also: 5 DIY Mother's Day Gifts Moms Will Love)

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