When it comes down to it, most of our purchases are fueled by some level of emotion. We buy things that elevate our levels of self-worth, that make us feel cooler or smarter or better looking. Once we find something that we think will do these things for us, we look for value. Is the product price worth it? Companies and retailers know how to appeal to all of these factors when getting you to buy their products – but beware of these sneaky tactics so that you don’t get caught up in spending more than you need to.
1. 5 for $5: Grocery stores do this all the time – you’ll see an item advertised as 5 for $5. What they don’t tell you is that you can also purchase just one item for $1. We end up buying 5 because we believe that’s the only way to get the deal.
2. up to 50% OFF: Another favorite shady tactic is retailers using huge signs that advertise half off the entire store. Once you start browsing, you realize that while some ugly t-shirts in the back are 50 off, the small print says “up to” — so you end up buying a bunch of stuff you didn’t need at 25% off because hey, it was on sale.
3. Unclaimed Rebates: This is one of my pet peeves – you walk into a store and the price that is advertised under the item is not the actual price you pay at the register, but the price after rebate. Who actually mails things anymore? My nana doesn’t even get greeting cards for her birthday. Manufacturers know this and take advantage of our lazy, technology dependent asses and get us to spend more.
4. Low Payments: Any time you’re lured in with the promise of low payments, you probably can’t really afford whatever the hell they are selling you. If you can’t afford the total price of something, you likely shouldn’t be buying it. Even if it’s something like car payments, be sure to look at the annual cost and how much you’ll have spent total with interest when it’s paid off.
5. No Dolla Sign: According to Cornell University research, consumers tend to spend more when dollar signs are left off of a restaurant menu. Restaurants sometimes also feature a few higher-priced items on the menu, knowing you likely won’t pick them, so that the rest of the menu looks more reasonably priced. Oh, and apparently prices ending in .95 seem “friendlier” than those ending in .99, which is associated with cheapness — so they get us with that tactic too.
6. FREE: In a recent study of an online retailer, some products were sold for $5 with free shipping, some were sold for $2.50 with $2.50 for shipping and some products were FREE with $5.00 shipping. At the end of the day, everyone was paying $5 no matter which pricing scheme their product fell under, but the free products fared significantly better. We love getting shit for free – so much that we will even spend MORE to qualify for that free shipping (on orders over $50 – I’m guilty of this).
Remember these strategies the next time you’re shopping, and make sure companies aren’t taking advantage of your poor vulnerable mind. Becoming more aware of the REAL price you’re paying for things is a great way to keep you from buying things you can’t afford.