Dumbest Sales Bait People Buy: Hook, Line & Sinker

This is the dumbest sales bait
This is the dumbest sales bait

Dumbest sales bait isn’t a popular phrase. Often, people don’t stop and think before they spend. Think about this. The more you spend the more you save! Isn’t that one of the dumbest sales bait you have heard? Yet it works. People spend believing it. Then again, Save 50% when you buy this item? Isn’t this another of the dumbest sales bait? How can you save when you spend?

I continue to be amazed at the success rate of the baits merchants use to get people to buy. Often, when I counsel folks and point out some of the silly slogans that grab them, they are stunned. The can’t believe they got caught. I think the dumbest sales bait merchants use successfully is this: “The more you spend the more you save.”

Really, the more you spend, the more you save. What utter nonsense! How can you grow spending and savings together when you buy goods and services? It gets even more absurd when you consider (a) people borrow to spend, and (b) they buy consumer items as they spend to save. Nevertheless, the gimmick works for the merchant.

Ensure Your Deal Isn’t Among The Dumbest Sales Bait

Folks try to convince me they save when they spend for a deal, such as, buy one get one free, 75% off, and so on. They forget they buy the item at a net price; it does not matter how much the price was discounted, they paid a net price. Usually, after a while these folks realize how deluded they have been.

The first sentence of the first chapter of the first paragraph of my first book, read as follows: Money management is a journey that reflects our values and lifestyles. It is lifestyle management. Each of us must recognize we can’t manage money, we manage our lifestyles. We must counteract pressure from merchants whose goal is to get us to focus on money and financing terms.

The second dumbest sales bait
The second dumbest sales bait

Merchants trick us with sales hooks that lead us to believe an item is cheap and affordable. Many people have unwritten lists of seductive grown up toys and appliances they want, and so they ‘bite’ the merchant’s bait. Typically, this begins the downward debt spiral when many people become victims, blame banks, the one percent, and everybody but them.

What can we do? Never spend impulsively. When the urge to spend comes, wait at least 24 hours. Never spend based on financing terms. I state categorically: Money should never be the primary reason to spend. Money is merely the means; you must have a proper basis to decide to spend. And then you must consider if you can afford to spend.

Buying a home with money as the prime focus has caused many people grief. Here are two reasons you should never buy a home. First, a mortgage would be less than your current rent. Second, you decide to buy a larger home to rent out a section to assist with the mortgage. These are money-driven decisions that will cause you grief.

There is more to owning a home than today’s mortgage. Also, if you buy a home depending on income from rental, in time, you won’t have a tenant and you will be forced to sell the home, probably when prices are low. This could consign you to perpetual poverty as you will own a home with a mortgage higher than the house value. I repeat, any decision of which money is the primary driver ultimately will fail.

Before spending, pray, reflect, seek advice. Most important, for all spending above a certain level–$50, $100, or an amount you think is realistic–use a formal spending decision process. I developed the The Affordability Index with a primary goal to indicate that you should not spend if it will cause you to go into debt. As well, to advise against spending if that’s not the most effective use of funds at the time.

Beware, merchants want you to look at money and financing to get you to believe you can afford to spend. They use seductive hooks. You need to understand spending has two parts–the need identification, and the affordability. Only after assessing these two segments should you spend.

To summarize: Please remember, a significant reason people drift into debt is because they do not “count the cost” of their lifestyle decisions; they think they are making financing decisions based on “baits” from merchants. There are no financial decisions; there are lifestyle decisions with time, talent, and money costs. You decide to buy a home, a car, a TV, coffee…these are lifestyle decisions with financial outcomes. Always “count the cost” before deciding. It’s not how you start that matters, it is how you finish.

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish (Luke 14:28 (ESV)).


Copyright © 2013, Michel A. Bell

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Michel A. Bell

Michel A. Bell is a former senior business executive, author of five books, speaker, and adjunct professor of business administration at Briercrest College and Seminary. He is founder and president of Managing God's Money, a private mission devoted to teaching biblical stewardship of time, talent, money and other resources. Visit Managing God's Money

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