FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Our cameras watched you do it time and time again. You walk into a store and turn to the right.

National financial expert Ellie Kay said this is one way that your favorite stores have you all figured out. “The displays are attractive, the music can even be louder over there,” explained Kay. “It’s this real good party feel when you turn to the right. Retailers understand that they should put their key items there. So, there are items on the right side that are going to be a higher profit margin.”

CBS 11 News went shopping with Kay, undercover in a North Texas mall, to learn about the retail traps that snare many naive spenders, like Wendy Daniel of Frisco. The mother of two is a self-proclaimed shopaholic. “My husband tells me I’m a sucker, because he asks me how much did I have to spend to get that $10 off,” laughed Daniel. “I can’t resist a sale, and I’m a sucker for the fliers that come in the mail.”

Daniel admits to the allure of the red tag and those buy-one-get-one “bargains.”

“The red and yellow clearance signs are a big thing for me. That’s the first place I’ll go in a store,” explained Daniel, adding that she especially loves shopping for and with her daughter. “$120 later, we’re walking out of the store with a bag full of items, when we were only going to buy two things.”

But if shoppers like Daniel want to shop smart, Kay said, they have got to outsmart the stores.

Kay agreed with Daniel that the clearance rack should be the first stop. “Go to the clearance section first, and then work your way back from there,” commanded Kay. Clearance areas are cramped, cluttered and chaotic by design. Retailers want you buying in the pretty, well-lit, high-priced areas instead. “Clearance sections are designed to be like the dentist’s office. It’s a place that you just don’t want to spend time there.”

Also, do not get taken in by the color on the tag. “When you think about red, a lot of times you think about sale items, and it triggers in the brain the idea that this is value, this is exciting,” Kay explained. “Sometimes retailers will put red tags on things that aren’t even on sale.”

And do the math on those buy-one-get-one sales. They often leave you paying more money, or buying more of the “one” item you only wanted in the first place. “You’re willing to pay more for the first one, even overpay, because you think you’re going to get something free,” said Kay.

This basic awareness will reboot your brain, Kay said, and help you spend less money — even when the bargains beckon. “They got me,” admitted Daniel. “And then, they gave me coupons to come back and do it again.”

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