Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
Do you make a grocery list using store ads to save money? Have you ever really looked at the store ads and spotted the ways they trick you into making purchases you don’t plan? You could plan your purchases very carefully using the ad but at the register you may realize you have gone over budget. Does this puzzle you?
I see the trickery all the time. I don’t know if the same thing happens in other countries. I’m guessing it does. Or at least some version of the same thing. Let me show you some tricks I’ve spotted.
Ok, let’s start with this. The ad says $.99 a pound for the pork riblets.
I decide to buy one pound which should be enough for two people or for one person two meals. But wait a minute. I read the fine print which is barely legible. Its quite blurry even with a magnifying glass.
It says, “sold in a 10# box at $9.99 each” So in order to get that ninety nine cent price I must spend $10 instead of $1. Why couldn’t they just say, 10# for $9.99 instead of the blurry fine print? Because people don’t see beyond the ninety nine cents. It doesn’t register in their mind they will be spending ten instead of one.
Here is another trick. Soda 12 packs sold 4 for $8. I’m not much of a soda drinker but sometimes I use one in cooking or as a special treat for myself. I drink soda maybe twice a year. Anyway, logically one twelve pack should be $2 at the sale price. Right?
Not so. “Buying less than 4 you’ll be charged $2.50 each.” I read the blurry fine print. So if I’m trying to keep my food budget low, do I want to spend $8 or do I want to only spend $2.50? When someone buys all 4 packs, to get the bargain price, the advertisers have gotten the shopper to up their spending by $5.50.
How about this one. This tactic happens a lot. This one happens to also be for soft drinks too. Its two liter soft drinks. Buy 3 and get 2 free. Final cost $1 each. Sounds like a good bargain IF you drink a lot of soda. But what if a person only needs one instead of five?
Well in order to purchase only one you will be paying $1.67. Should you spend the $5 or the $1.67? If you buy the five instead of only the one you need then the store has gotten you to up your spending by $3.33 more. Also, at other stores the same brand 2 liter sells for $.89 each regular price. So this store is asking us to buy already over priced soda AND purchase more than we need.
Look at this one. In this trick they want you to spend several dollars in order to get the $3 savings. Is it worth spending that much to save fifty cents on each item?
Ok, IF I can use multiples of these items, and had already planned to purchase them, and I had coupons too then it might be a good deal. But what if I don’t want six of these items? What if I only need the kool aid. Well, I would rather pay the regular price of $1.49 than to pay for items I don’t need. If I bought six kool aid to save $3 the store will have gotten me to spend $4.95 extra. I used an example of buying six of one item but the mix and match of other items could be more.
Here’s a good one. The price says $.99 cents but if you read the blurry fine print the package is only 6 ounces. That works out to $2.64 cents a pound. Your brain only sees the ninety nine cent price, not the tiny printed ounces.
Well what do you know, another trick. These prices look rather cheap don’t they? Read the fine print and it says grapes are sold in 2 lb or more packages. The kiwi come in packs of three and the peaches are in 2 pound packs too.
Why not just give the package price instead of the per pound price? Trickery. The magical number nine. Only one penny away from a whole dollar but many don’t think of that. Also, $.99 cents or $.89 cents looks better to the eyes and the brain than $2.99 for three or $1.78 for two pound pack does.
Oh my, just look at the pretty little red arrows pointing down and the big red arrow saying lower prices. That’s a lot of items with lower prices isn’t it?
Don’t be fooled, except for the 5 arrows in the bottom row none of the prices on any of the other red arrows are lower. Those are regular price. An eye fooling trick to have you believe all the items have had the prices lowered.
Here is another version of the earlier buy 6 get $3. This one is buy 5 and save $5. Look closer, you’ll see those are one pound packages. Do you really want to pay $1.99 for a pound of hot dogs, bologna, or ham? What about paying $7.97 a pound for the package of Deli Fresh carving board meat that has been slipped into the mix? That package is 5 ounces which works out to almost eight dollars a pound.
Some items shown in an ad are not on sale at all but are made to look as if they are. The manufacturers pay to be included in the ad. There will be a large picture of a pretty food or package and a large print price proclaiming a price of “$2.77 lb with card” or something like “$1.99 while supplies last.” Those are normal everyday prices made to look like a sale. Made to look like the quantity is limited when in fact it is there all the time.
The larger the picture and font size, the more it looks like a fantastic sale. But, if it doesn’t have “save __% or save $__” then its not a sale. Its the everyday regular price.
Yes, you and I have to be diligent in our search for the trickery. Not only are we getting blindsided daily by shrinkflation but trickflation too. Food advertisers are pushing the limits of what is considered truth. I’m sure if you start looking you’ll find more of those tricks too.