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Just read in Money magazine that the more television you watch, the more you spend. A sociologist at Boston College found that every hour of television we watch in a week, we spend roughly $200 a year. So if I average 14 hours a week (two hours a day is pretty reasonable, right?), I’m spending an extra $2800 (in addition to the outrageous amount I’m already paying for satellite).

Money, always good for a laugh, suggests that if you can’t turn off your TV completely, at least change the channel. “No one ever looked at the PBS anchor and said, ‘I’ve got to get a blazer like that!'”


My honey and I are in the market for not one but two new-to-us cars. Both of us are pushing 200k miles, and we know it won’t be long before the transmission falls out or the engine explodes.

Our experiences have reminded me of an overused ploy by “marketers” to get us to buy their junk. They act like they won’t be able to sell whatever it is for this low, low price tomorrow. But it’s just not true.

If someone will sell you a 2005 Honda Pilot with 50k miles for $14,000 today, then you can get it for that price tomorrow. Or next week. You just have to be patient.

Typically, a sale is not a limited opportunity to buy something at a reduced price. It’s a clue to what you should really pay for the item.

I felt like I beat the system at the grocery store the other day. I went to buy ice cream (yum … ice cream) and saw that Breyers was on sale, two for $5. Score! That’s a huge discount on some tasty, tasty cream. But, in a icecreamdouble-take kind of moment, I noticed that the Breyers packages were noticeably smaller than the Publix brand packages. Upon further examination, Breyers sells ice cream in 1.5 quart cartons, while Publix offers a 2 quarts, which translates to one-third more ice cream. Doing some quick math (meaning I grabbed my cell phone and pulled up the calculator), I realized the Publix ice cream was cheaper per ounce than the on-sale Breyers.

That’s how they get you at the grocery store.

By screaming about sales, the stores take your mind off the fact that another brand might be cheaper. Or it might give you more for your money.

Don’t fall for it when a product is advertised, for instance, as “3 for the price of 2!” In most cases, that just means that the product is on sale for one-third off the regular price. You don’t actually have to buy 3. Buy only one and save even more.

I’d heard about a going-out-of-business sale at a store I like and headed over today to try to land some good bargains. The trip has inspired a new tag for the blog: That’s how they get yousale.

Everything left in the store (which wasn’t much) was marked by huge “50% OFF” signs. In small print, the sign also said “original price.” The store which shall not be named isn’t known for being outrageously priced. In fact, I’d consider them in the middle- to low-range of the pricing strata. Yet the “sale” prices weren’t all that impressive.

I realized they had marked up their “original” prices to make the “sale” prices seem more appealing. They don’t expect their shoppers to have any idea what something normally costs – they just advertise an EVERYTHING MUST GO sale and we all flock like lemmings, elbow one another to get to the discounted pillow shams, and revel in the glory of beating the system.

Don’t fall for it, friends. Shop smart. Do some advance research, or at least take a minute to look it up on your iPhone before you buy it in the store. Chances are, you can buy it any day of the week somewhere else for that same “discounted” price.