We’ve all been there, we’ve been sucked into the sales, tempted by buy one get one free offers, and taken advantage of the endless ‘payday’ discounts which land in our inboxes. We often use maths and numbers as a way to talk our way into buying things, often without realising we’re doing it! We take a look at some of these so-called logical reasons to help you break the habit, perhaps for good.

“If I wear them every day for a month, they’ll have only really cost me 50p a day”

Yes those boots that you had to have may have cost your month’s rent, but you’ve justified it by breaking it down into cost per day. Which is fine if you did actually wear them every day, but what if they hurt your feet or they break or worse still, the British weather affects their wear (we’re looking at you suede lovers)? Then their average cost per wear increases, making them less of a valuable item. Remember that the next time you try to reason with your heart over those expensive but beautiful shoes.

“Wow an extra 25% off a 50% sale, amazing, that’s 75% off right?”

Wrong. This is a very common maths mistake. Stores engineer their sales to suck you in with this. This is not a simple case of adding the percentages together to make 75%. If you saw a 50% off sign on a dress that was £200, it would cost you £100. But the second discount is only then applied to the second price, so the dress won’t be costing you £50 as you might have originally thought, but £75. Working out discounts properly and ignoring the temptation of ‘enjoy an extra 25% off’ will save you a lot of spending grief in the long run.

“Buy one, get one half price – that’s fantastic value”

Yes it is, in theory. But these kinds of adverts only encourage you to spend more, and possibly buy things that you won’t need or use, particularly food which can go out of date very quickly. We tend to stick to this rule to stop us impulse buying – if we use the item regularly then why not save on it, especially if we’d only be buying another next week. If however you are making an impulse buy, thinking about whether or not there is much value in buying two is always worth considering.

It’s funny how maths crops up in ways we wouldn’t expect. But if like us, you’re known for your love of a shopping spree or two, delving deeper into the discounts can actually make you a more savvy shopper and help you save money in the long term. Take that crafty shopping marketers!