4 Store Tricks Designed To Take Your Money

The editors at Javabird are proud to present this guest post from S.N., a Seattle native in her late twenties. Thanks for your submission. Great tips. Keep them coming. -JB


Coupons don't always give you the best price.

“The B-Brand is still cheaper!  What’s up with this coupon?”


Sale Shoppers Beware!


Have you ever been glamoured by the grocery stores huge displays, fancy colorful sale signs and unbelievable deals? Through my own discoveries and helpful hints from others, I’ve learned a few things over the years that have allowed me to purchase the items I want, plus walk away feeling I got the best deal for my money.


Here are four tricks I’ve learned to watch out for:


1) The best deals aren’t always found on the end-aisle displays.


Grocery stores have a constant influx of goods for sale, but a limited amount of shelf space, thus the idea “out with the old, in with the new” is a performance played out on a daily basis. If you doubt it, think about a situation where a new shipment of a product comes in, but the shelf is already fully stocked with the previous shipment. What is the store to do? How about move the old shipment to the end of the aisle and put a big sign up advertising what a great deal it is?  That way anyone walking about the store is bound to see it.  The store usually advertises the older merchandise at the same price, but with a clever sign that suggests you’re purchasing more for your money.  Don’t believe it! Even when the display makes it seem like a great deal, it’s really the normal price times the quantity. Check the expiration date. Check the actual per unit price. More often than not, there really isn’t a deal worth jumping on, plus the items are close to expiration or their saleable shelf life.


2) Don’t buy the bigger container just because it’s on sale.


When I go shopping, I’m constantly comparing the cost of sale items versus the same brand, but differing size containers not on sale. Example:


Stewed tomato example.

Right away the can on sale draws your eye because you see more tomatoes, with a price reduction. You might be tempted to grab that can of tomatoes and consider yourself lucky to get one before someone else swoops in and scoops them all up. But if you were to stop a minute, pull out your pocket calculator and do a bit of math, you would find you’re paying more per oz of tomato with the bigger can than with the smaller one.


Are you comparing apples and oranges?

Make sure you compare quanities, not just price.

In my example above, the small can costs $.12 an oz ($1.49 divided by 12) and the bigger “on sale” can costs almost $.15 per oz ($2.69 divided by 18). If your recipe only calls for 12oz of tomatoes, why buy the extra 6oz at a higher cost per quantity?


Don’t always be swayed by the bigger containers labeled “On Sale”.  It pays to do the math first.  By the way, I use the calculator on my Blackberry.  Check your phone — you may be able to download a calculator app.


3) You pay more for a name brand.


Generics are cheaper.

Ask yourself if you’ve ever seen an advertisement  for a generic product? Don’t these two do the same thing?

How often do you walk down an aisle, see a name brand item at one price and right next to it, a generic brand item priced for less? And how many times did you grab the name brand versus the generic brand? Do you think the product is superior because it costs more? Or because it has a name you recognize? I challenge you to do a quick check of ingredients the next time you’re about to grab your favorite name brand item. I’m guessing you’ll find the same list of ingredients on both brands. Oh, but the name brand probably uses better quality, that’s why it cost’s more, right?  Here’s a shocker: The generics are usually made by the same companies that make the name brand, but the reason why you’re paying so much more is because you’re paying for all the advertising that familiarized you with the product in the first place. Hey, I know that sometimes there’s a difference, but don’t be swayed by fancy labels alone – they can cost you big time.


4) Coupons are great, but you’ve got to be careful.


I am an avid coupon clipper. I typically limit my clipping to items I use, but sometimes my effort’s all for not. While I thumb through my coupons at the store, looking to match them to the items on the shelves, I often find myself opting to buy a different brand from the coupon advertised.   Even with the coupon discount, the other brand is still a better deal! I find I’m happier paying less even with my coupons turn out to be a disappointment. Remember, coupons are great, but only if they provide a real discount.


Careful shoppers save big time.  I hope my experience gives you the inside track on getting the best deal the next time you go shopping.  Got any more ideas?  I’d love to hear them.  Why not share in a comment below?



2 Responses to 4 Store Tricks Designed To Take Your Money

  • connie says:

    S.N., those are great tips for sensible shopping. I find it is helpful to pay attention to the small unit pricing stickers on the shelves as well.

  • DM says:

    These are really helpful. one thing I try to remember is to check on those small pricing stickers how long a sale price is good–this lets me know if I have to buy soon or if the deal will be around for a couple of more weeks and I can plan the buying better into my budget.


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