Spaving: What is new shopping trend which sees people spending more money than intended? Plus how to avoid it

There's a new shopping trend called spaving, but you'll want to avoid it. Composite image by NationalWorld/Mark Hall.There's a new shopping trend called spaving, but you'll want to avoid it. Composite image by NationalWorld/Mark Hall.
There's a new shopping trend called spaving, but you'll want to avoid it. Composite image by NationalWorld/Mark Hall. | Composite image by NationalWorld/Mark Hall.
Shoppers are being warned that they should avoid a new shopping trend called 'spaving' this Christmas - here's what it is and tips for how to stay away from it

It is the most wonderful time of year, but it is also the most expensive time of year. Christmas is a time for spending time with loved ones, but it seems to be a time for spending a lot of money too.

From food to gifts, decorations to seasonal events, there's numerous things that can place a strain on our finances throughout December. But, now shoppers are being warned to be aware of 'spaving' - new shopping trend where consumers are tricked into spending more money than they intended because they think they are saving cash. The word itself is a portmanteaus of the words 'spending' and 'saving'.

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The festive season often offers various discounts and deals for consumers who are looking to save money on their christmas shopping. However, these promotions can sometimes encourage overspending and also led impulse purchases on unnecessary items as people think they're getting a good deal. Ultimately, people then end up spending more money than they otherwise would and they're not actually saving money at all.

But, don't worry, personal finance expert, Amy Knight, at NerdWallet has shared her top tips for avoiding the temptation to spend more than you save this christmas. She said: “While the festive season offers lots of opportunities to save, such as the sales around Black Friday and after Christmas, it’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘spaving’. ‘Spaving’ is spending but thinking that you’re saving. Overall, ‘spaving’ can fool us into spending more than we want to, so it’s important to balance finding fun deals with genuine ways to cut costs and save money.”

Spaving - what are examples of it?

There are many examples of 'spaving' for you to be aware of. They are explained below by Knight.

Multi-buy offers

"This could include making several purchases on a three-for-two deal when you actually only wanted one of those items originally. Whilst some multibuy offers may provide a genuine cost saving, it can be counterproductive when you’re trying to stick to a budget. So, stop the mentality of ‘one for thee, one for me’: In terms of Christmas presents, sometimes finding something perfect for someone else comes hand in hand with finding something you want, too. This is especially true when there are tempting deals like ‘buy one, get one half price’. Try to hold off on these additional purchases for a few days at least - then if you find you’re still thinking about that item, you can come back to it. If you can wait until the January sales, the price may have gone down."

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There's a new shopping trend called spaving, but you'll want to avoid it. Composite image by NationalWorld/Mark Hall.There's a new shopping trend called spaving, but you'll want to avoid it. Composite image by NationalWorld/Mark Hall.
There's a new shopping trend called spaving, but you'll want to avoid it. Composite image by NationalWorld/Mark Hall. | Composite image by NationalWorld/Mark Hall.

Free shipping

“Don’t get taken in by free shipping: It’s only worth adding additional items to your basket to qualify for free shipping if, firstly, they are all items you want anyway or, secondly, if the item you add costs exactly the same as the cost for shipping. Ideally, you’re looking for both these things to be true. Make sure you check whether there are a range of shipping options to choose from, as the default option may not be the cheapest. If you’re prepared to wait an extra couple of days for your order to arrive you can sometimes cut shipping costs down considerably."

Fake discounts

“Avoid fake discounts. Sometimes the products advertised at a discounted price 'for a limited time' have in fact already been sold at that lower price for months beforehand. Check the price history using a free price tracker website such as PriceRunner or PriceSpy, or a web browser extension like Karma - and use these tools to compare the prices at other retailers too."

Other examples include buying different items than you intended just so you can qualify for a deal, or buying a cheaper version of a highly sought after item simply because it's a dupe of an in-demand item.

Spaving - how can you avoid it?

Below, Knight has explained the actions you can take to help ensure you don't end up 'spaving'.

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Delete your saved payment information

"While it’s super convenient having your card details saved in your phone or web browser, I’d suggest you delete them - either now or once you have found all your Christmas presents for loved ones. Everyone knows it’s hard to squeeze in Christmas shopping alongside work and day-to-day responsibilities, but time-saving tools like saved payment details can make it too easy to make a purchase without thinking it through. Just putting that little obstacle in place of having to manually enter your details can stop you from buying things you don’t really want or need. 

Buy festive items in January

“The January sales are the perfect time to stock up on gift wrapping, cards and crackers. If you hold onto them for next year instead of buying them new in November 2024, you will make a significant saving."

Use your online banking tools to help keep track of spending

"Many online banking apps now offer a feature where you can set a budget for yourself, split by categories such as health and beauty, and dining out. When you approach the limit of your budget, your app will send you a notification to make you aware. You can also view your spending month-by-month. These kinds of tools can help you manage your spending by showing you the actual data and empowering you to adjust your behaviour to realign with your goals."

Be careful with your credit card

"While using credit cards to pay for Christmas expenses can take the weight off your shoulders in the short term, if you fall behind on your payments you will end up spending more in the long run because of interest. Credit cards are a really useful tool to help us manage our cashflow and spread out our spending, but it’s important to keep an eye on the amount on the card so as not to be caught out by the next bill."

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