We’re in a weird period of time, as most people are obeying quarantine orders and staying home more. Yet, all of us need and want things such as food, supplies, etc.

by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

We’ve seen and heard a lot about people selling things at exorbitant rates. What we haven’t paid as much attention to are the rising costs of many other things at a slower rate. I thought it would be a good time to bring up some of the retailers favorite tricks that are used to get you to spend more.

Retailers are professionals at selling, and they’ve spent millions in research to determine how to sell as much as possible, even at higher prices. Here are a few tricks and techniques to watch out for:

1. Limited-time-only bargains.

Regret is one of our most disliked feelings, and we naturally do what we can to avoid feeling regret. Marketers know this and use it to their advantage with limited-time offers and bargains. By making you feel that you have to act now or risk losing out on a great sale or product, retailers force you into split second decisions that often results in a purchase.

Another way this fear is used is when retailers purposely limit quantities of merchandise. Once a shopper returns to buy something, only to find out that item is no longer in stock, that person will be less likely to pass up on something he or she wants in the future. This is the type of thing that led to hoarder buying during the pandemic, and it worked well; I did that with things like toilet paper, tissues and paper towels. Even now, though some items are returning to the shelves, others are still hard to find.

With that said, a smart thing to do if you see ads for items being marketed as a lower price is to go to a search engine to see if it’s actually a lower price across the board via other retailers. For me, whenever I see a technology product proclaiming it’s a limited sale, I always check to see how others are marketing it. Sometimes everyone’s doing the same thing at the same time, but often it’s a 50-50 issue, which means you shouldn’t fall for the shiny thing just because it’s been tagged with a large red star.

2. Buying in bulk is cheap, right?

This is one that I’ve found warehouse stores to be especially good at taking advantage of. We’ve been trained to believe that when we buy items in bulk, we pay less per item than buying in smaller quantities. Whereas that’s often true, other retailers take advantage of this in a couple of ways.

One way is that the larger size product is not always cheaper on a per unit basis; usually it’s the price below the price you’ll have to pay. This often happens when the smaller size is on sale, but the larger is not. Other times it happens because the larger size is a better seller than the smaller size. Be sure to always check the actual per unit cost of the product is to make sure you’re really saving money before buying anything.

The other way this often works against us is that most of us hate to pass up what we view as a good deal. Think of McDonald’s when they brought out the super-size option. Getting all those extra fries and that giant drink for $0.29 more seemed like such a great deal. That is until you are half way through the fries and realize that you can’t eat any more. Before buying the larger sized items to save money, make sure that you’ll actually use it, especially if there’s a “use by” date.

3. Make sure the purchase can’t wait until later.

It is very rare that you’ll come across an amazing deal that you’ll never see again. In fact, quite the opposite is usually true. When was the last time that you went to a craft store and they didn’t have a 1/2 off sale? It seems that some items are on sale more often than not.

Before buying a sale item because it seems like a good value, make sure it’s something that you actually need and will use in the near future. If you already have 3 large jugs of laundry detergent, don’t buy more just because it’s on sale, or because you’re worried about others buying things out from under you.

4. Ordering food and others items locally and having them delivered.

All of us do this in some way. Especially now that we can’t eat in our favorite restaurants but have a few who offer delivery, it keeps us in touch with our favorite meals.

Where it gets problematic is when delivery comes from an outside source instead of from the restaurant itself. You always get a better deal if it’s the restaurant you’re getting a delivery from, even if they have a dollar limit of how much you have to buy before delivering your food.

I don’t have a lot of hate for companies like Grubhub or Postmates, but their fees are much higher than restaurant delivery. When you want something you’re willing to pay extra to get it, but doing it on a regular basis isn’t fiscally sound. Using these services once can be a great bargain, but if you’re not paying attention the next time you could be paying more for the delivery than for the food; I almost did that, but luckily I remembered how much I paid the first time and decided against it.

Locally there are places like Twin Trees or PF Changs that have their own delivery service that they don’t charge much extra for. As long as you’re not cheap and tip well, you’ll still save money buying from them. Or better yet; if you live close, order your food as takeout.

Be smart with your money, only buy items you actually need, and cut corners where you can. Things will be back to some kind of normalcy as the days go by; make sure you still have money available when it happens. 🙂