Bound to Buy: The 10 Types of Consumers Who Inevitably Overspend

  • Share
  • Read Later

Are you an Illogical Rationalizer? A Fine Print Ignoramus? Or perhaps a Shortsighted Sign-Me-Upper? If your behavior fits one of the ten consumer categories below, then there’s your explanation for why you don’t have more money in the bank. If you behave like all of the consumer types below, then let’s hope you make a lot of money — and on behalf of the economy as a whole, thank you for keeping things humming along with your never-ending, rapid-fire purchases.
The Preemptive Replacer
This consumer is frequently bored with his possessions, and cares way more about whether something is shiny, new, and impressive than about actual functionality, and is disgusted when an item gets a slight scratch, tear, or stain. Could possibly have an unhealthy fetish involving plastic packaging, crinkly shopping bags, and/or “new car smell.”
Likely purchases: new car (when the old one runs fine), new sneakers (every other month), entire new kitchen or bathroom (because the old one was, oh, a little blah), storage unit (to hold all of the stuff that’s still perfectly good)
The Knee-Jerk Outsourcer
This anti-DIYer believes that her time is absolutely invaluable, and can’t be bothered with tasks deemed even marginally difficult or complicated, no matter what the cost.
Likely purchases: landscaping (a.k.a. somebody to cut your lawn), pre-sliced vegetables, Geek Squad assistance, “baby concierge” services
The Hapless Negotiator
The haggling techniques of this squeamish, extremely non-confrontational individual consist of two phrases: “How much?” and “I’ll take it.” Known to perspire heavily in the presence of car salesmen, antique store clerks, and crotchedy old ladies at yard sales.
Likely purchases: inflated auto insurance, inflated cable/Internet/phone plans, car at anything close to sticker price
The Fine Print Ignoramus
Details, details. Who can be bothered with details? Not the fine-print ignoramus, who accepts too-good-to-be-true offers at face value and never investigates the likelihood of “gotchas.”
Likely purchases: “exploding” mortgage, credit card with “great introductory rates” (that only last six months), heavily subsidized cell phone with absurdly high early termination fee
The Shortsighted Sign-Me-Upper
Closely related to and sometimes overlapping with the fine-print ignoramus, the shortsighted sign-me-upper focuses solely on what he must pay to get his hands on the goods right now, and never considers how much the purchase will cost him down the line—or whether he’ll even want the product down the line.
Likely purchases: timeshare, car lease, store-affiliated credit cards, products on infomercials, QVC, and HSN (especially those with “low monthly payments”)
The Early Adopter (and Constant Upgrader)
If it’s been described with the phrase “the next great,” if it features an Apple logo, and/or if mere possession of one will cause strangers to stop in their tracks and stare, then the early adopter must have it. No matter what your opinion of this consumer, you should thank the early adopter’s pioneering ways, because while his actions may seem brave, forward-thinking, foolhardy, egotistical, or some combination therein, he serves a noble purpose: He pays full price and sometimes purchases clunkers so the rest of us wind up with sound gear for much less money later on.
Likely purchases: iPad, untested hybrid or electric car, endless series of smartphones, Blueray paraphernalia, a bajillion other hot new things by the time you read this
The Impulse Buyer (and Frequent Regretter)
Delayed gratification? By the time this consumer manages to say the phrase—which does have a lot of syllables, come to think of it—she has excitedly scooped up a handful of “must-have” trifles that caught her eye.
Likely purchases: shoes, purses, gag gifts, infomercial products (as gag gifts or otherwise), anything in a store window or near a checkout line
The Whiny Kid Appeaser
Pity this poor soul, whose buttons can be pushed by offspring with multifaceted manipulation skills way beyond their years. Sometimes, a child’s momentary melancholy glance down at the store shelf is all it takes to prod a parent into surrender, albeit with a moral victory via the words, “Just one, OK?”
Likely purchases: toys, DVDs, video games, florescent cereal, yogurt-like products featuring Nickelodeon characters
The Illogical Rationalizer
This well-intentioned but misguided consumer believes that spending money is an excellent means to save money. And while this logic sometimes holds true—for example, it makes sense to pay extra for a product that’s more durable than a cheaper one that’ll have to be replaced often—not spending money is generally an even better way to save. The illogical rationalizer also has a weakness for words such as “deal,” “discount,” and “half off,” and when confronted with questions about the worthiness of a given product at any price may respond defensively by saying, “But I had a coupon!”
Likely purchases: ride-on lawnmower, extended warranty, elaborate home improvement projects, random stuff you’d never otherwise purchase but bought anyway solely because it was “on sale”
The Creature of (Bad) Habit
The “habitual offender,” if you will, faces what is arguably the most difficult challenge in fixing one’s finances. Human beings are comforted by routine and repetition, and if changing one’s habits was easy, no one would have habits that are bad, unhealthy, or costly, at least not for long. The key to stopping bad habits is to stay focused not on what you’re giving up, but on the benefits of what you get from good habits. For instance, by cooking at home rather than eating out all the time, you’ll be healthier, you’ll spend more time together with your family, and you’ll have more money—which will come in handy when your kid gives you that desperately sad look at the toy store.
Likely purchases: cigarettes, lottery tickets, Starbucks, fast food