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Finance Expert Warns Against 'Spaving' Trend, An Old Trap with a New Name

Finance expert Bryan Kuderna warns against "spaving" – spending more to save – a marketing tactic making a comeback.
Cover Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Alexander Mils
Cover Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Alexander Mils

The founder of Kuderna Financial Team and author of "What Should I Do with My Money?", Bryan Kuderna, explained the concept and risks of "spaving." "The whole concept of ‘spaving’ is to get consumers to buy more," Kuderna told Fox News Digital. "You see different examples like that throughout the economy. And where it hurts the consumer is if it encourages them to essentially waste money to buy more than is necessary, just so that they feel like, okay, now I'm getting the deal."

Pexels | Photo by cottonbro studio
Pexels | Photo by cottonbro studio

"Spaving" – spending more to save – is an old marketing tactic making a comeback in grocery stores, retail outlets, and even online gambling platforms. While there are instances where "spaving" can be beneficial, personal finance expert Bryan Kuderna warns consumers to be cautious and not fall victim to this trap.

Common "spaving" tactics include "buy one, get one" promotions, in-store "cash" for future purchases, gifts, and programs like "subscribe and save." Kuderna elaborated, "They're all just different marketing ploys to get consumers to buy more, and in certain instances, that works great. If we're using coupons to get what we need and we also got a bargain at the same time, then certainly it's a win-win. But as we see so many times… it's not."

Americans have been grappling with inflationary pressures for years, exacerbated by higher prices post-COVID lockdowns, prompting more households to rely on credit cards. From 2021 to the end of 2023, credit balances jumped 47% – the steepest three-year climb on record. Credit analysts predict the 2024 first-quarter credit card debt will likely reach record highs.

Unsplash | Photo by Jp Valery
Unsplash | Photo by Jp Valery

With finances becoming a struggle for many American families, Kuderna offered advice on how to avoid the "spaving" trap and maintain financial control. "The best way consumers can approach a spaving deal is to pretend it's not even there, like they never saw it," he shared. "Buy what you intend to buy," he stressed. "Don't buy what you feel pressured to buy. That's when you become almost like a victim of the marketing ploy. And that's obviously good for the retailer but not good for the consumer."

He also advised caution regarding store credit cards, despite attractive sign-on bonuses and perks. "The reason you see a lot of those really cool perks is that these store credit cards are so profitable to that retailer," Kuderna explained. "What they may end up spending in interest on their store credit card or late payment fees or anything else could pale in comparison to those little savings that they got at one time when they opened the credit card."

To avoid being lured into unnecessary purchases, Kuderna suggested turning off app notifications or unsubscribing from promotional emails. "Lastly, what I sometimes tell people is a lot of these [spaving deals] are based on buying in bulk, and buying in bulk in economies of scale is great for the consumer. But again, if we're overstepping and starting to create waste, it's not," he added.

Kuderna urged consumers to assess the net savings of spaving deals critically. "Know what you want to get and if you want to go there, go there, but don't get that same volume at a normal retailer where you're paying significantly more just to get a small savings," he said. "That's where you have to look at what is the net savings of actually falling for some of these saving deals."

As "spaving" traps become more common and spread to new sectors like online gambling and streaming services, Kuderna emphasized vigilance. "Sometimes you just have to kind of sit down and go back to basics and say, okay, are we getting what we pay for here?"