We are approaching the biggest shopping season of the year. To ensure that your purchases do not get out of hand, buy only that products that you were planning to get.
Most stores use marketing tactics to get you in the store, then they use other tactics to get you to buy something you were not planning to purchase.
Smells are a powerful buying tool. Think about all the wonderful smells of the holiday — from the floral department, which is always right in front when you walk into a grocery store, or the perfumes as you enter the big department stores. And don't forget about the smell of leather in the furniture department.
Smells can even prompt you to walk into a store you weren't planning to enter. Ever been to Yankee Candle?
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The placement of items throughout a store is also an important marketing strategy. When looking for an item, take the time to look up and down the aisles and not just in the middle of the store, where the most popular and most expensive items often are placed.
And don't forget to do the math. The 10 for $10 sale might seem like a great deal, but remember it just means the items are $1 each. And many retailers will put 99 cents at the end of prices to make items seem cheaper. The idea is that consumers process numbers left to right. So $15.99 looks better to consumers than $16.
Another trick of retailers is supplying you with a price comparison. When you see something that was $30 but is now $15, it makes you think it's a great deal. But the original $30 price might have been a ridiculous in the first place.
Check the Amazon Price Checker App to do some comparison shopping.
Here are quick tips for the holiday season shopping:
■ Sign up to receive emails from your favorite retailers.
■ Follow your favorite restaurants or retailers on Facebook and Twitter. Download their apps and join their preferred shopping programs.
■ Groupon.com and Livingsocial.com offer savings on products.
■ Sign up for alerts from favorite deal websites such as Ebates.com, Retailmenot.com, and Dealnews.com. Follow them on Facebook because they often get Black Friday circulars before public release.
Veterans Day offers
Local veterans get a thank you for their service with freebies from these businesses:
■ Applebee's will offer a free meal Tuesday, which is Veterans Day. There are seven entrées to choose from. Beverage and gratuity are not included. Military ID or proof of service is required.
■ Bob Evans is offering all-you-can-eat hotcakes on Tuesday. This deal is available for active duty military and veterans with ID or proof of service.
■ Denny's will let all active, inactive and retired military personnel build a free Grand Slam breakfast from 5 a.m. to noon Tuesday. Call ahead to see if your preferred location is participating.
■ Chili's is offering a free meal Tuesday for active duty military and veterans. Choices include one of seven meals during dinner and any lunch combo during lunch. Beverages and gratuity are not included, and the offer is available only at participating locations. Proof of military service is required.
■ At Red Lobster from Monday through Thursday, veterans may get a free appetizer with military ID or proof of service. Vets may choose from a select list of appetizers.
■ Golden Corral will offer a free meal from 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 17 to any person who has served in the U.S. military.
■ Hooters invites all veterans and active duty service members to enjoy a free meal, up to $10.99 in value, with any drink purchase, by presenting a military ID or proof of service at any Hooters location on Tuesday.
■ At Krispy Kreme, veterans get a free doughnut and small coffee Tuesday at participating stores. The offer available to all active-duty military, retirees and veterans. Call ahead to verify that your local Krispy Kreme is participating.
■ Orange Leaf is offering a free frozen yogurt (up to 11 ounces) on Tuesday. Proof of service is required.
■ Outback Steakhouse is honoring veterans by offering active duty military and veterans a free Bloomin' Onion and a nonalcoholic beverage on Tuesday. An ID is required. Additionally, Outback will take 15 percent off purchases from Wednesday through Dec. 31.
■ Starbucks will give active duty military, veterans and their spouses a free tall brewed coffee on Tuesday at participating stores. Call ahead to see if your store is taking part.
■ Great Clips is offers veterans a free hair cut from Tuesday through Dec. 31.
Starbucks fans may get a buy-one-get-one-free holiday drink from Wednesday through Nov. 16. Drinks include gingerbread latte, peppermint mocha and caramel brulee latte. This deal is available from 2 to 5 p.m., or until 6 p.m. for Starbucks Rewards members. No coupon is needed.