How to Stay in Control of Your Budget When Bidding at Auction

Sunday 15th May 2022 - Cara Bentham


How to Stay in Control of Your Budget When Bidding at Auction

Here we offer some tips on controlling your spend and budget when bidding at auction.

Auctions can be a fascinating place, whether you are bidding online or in person. However, the competitive spirit and drive to win can sometimes take over, making us pay more than we wanted to for an item. In this post, we explain how to stay in control of your budget when bidding at an auction. 


Why People Get Sucked Into The Competitive Nature Of Auctions

Auctions are designed to facilitate rational outcomes; that is, before you factor in the human element. Human nature and our psychological makeup sometimes push us to behave in irrational ways. People commonly wind up bidding much higher than initially planned when emotion takes over at auction. 


Once an individual is bidding at auction, whether in person or online, they are in a situation where their competitive nature can quickly take over. As a species, we have evolved to be competitive, and the nature of auctions means that we are not just paying to own the chosen lot but also to compete with others to ensure this desired outcome. 


The excitement of bidding at auction can get your adrenaline going, making your heart beat faster and quickening your reactions. While this may be ideal in competitive sports, it makes rational decision-making much harder, which can hinder when trying to stick to a budget at auction. 


Tips for Staying in Control of Your Budget When Bidding at Auction


1. Set yourself a spending limit before going into the auction


It’s always a good idea to set yourself a spending limit before going into an auction. Do your research and decide what you think a lot is worth or what you’re willing to pay to own it. Make an agreement with yourself that you won’t go beyond this. Of course, there is still the chance that you may get swept up in the moment, but this can be significantly reduced by planning ahead to prevent it and being clear about your limits. 


2. Be aware


Being aware of how the competitive drive may affect you in situations like an auction is important. Prior awareness can help you understand what is happening when the competitive spirit takes over. This makes it easier to separate emotion from the decision-making process so you can more easily stay in control. 


3. Get someone else to bid for you or use an auto bidder.

If you are a highly competitive person and the previous tips do not work for you, consider giving someone else your budget and asking them to bid for you. Many people send others to bid on their behalf for precisely this reason. While anyone can get swept up in the excitement of an auction environment, this is lessened when bidding on an item for someone else because they do not personally value or desire it. Using the Autobid function on our website also removes the chance of getting swept up in the moment. Set your maximum bid (with an option of +1) and walk away, allowing the system to bid in real-time. Read more about using Autobids here


4. Bid online


Bidding online can mitigate some of the effects of an auction environment. Of course, the competitive will to win remains but other psychological factors that influence our behaviour in social settings are minimised. Being in a physical auction environment can increase physiological arousal experienced in social situations. We can also be subject to the psychological drive to behave as others are doing when in close proximity to them. Staying at home and bidding from the comfort of your own home can mitigate these factors. All of our auctioneers offer online bidding for their live and timed auctions which means you can get your hands on that desired lot without getting as caught up in the excitement of the moment. Check out their catalogues here.


Following these tips will help you control your budget, whether bidding online or in a physical saleroom, to ensure that auctions remain a fun and positive experience.