One of the things I’ve noticed lately while shopping is that stores are getting sneakier about their labeling. You might be surprised at how you are being nickeled and dimed into a higher bill. While a couple bucks doesn’t seem like a lot of money right now, it can sure add up over time. Two dollars a week basically amounts to $104 a year. Not a ton of money, but I bet you can think of a few things to do with that extra $104 a year. And, of course, you may be losing more than two bucks a week due to sneaky labeling. Here are some examples of ways that you might find yourself paying more for less at the store:
A Sale that Really Isn’t
Often, we look at the little tags on the store shelves to identify items that are on sale. Recently, as I did a little shopping for some food storage, I noticed that some items were tagged “save $1.50.” At first I thought that these items were on sale as well. But after looking closer, I found that it was a store brand being sold at regular price. The savings came in comparison to the name brand. I decided that I didn’t want to pay regular price; at some point that item will go on sale for real, and then I can stock up.
Comparing Unit Prices
One of the best things you can do is to compare the per-unit price. This is because we have been conditioned to assume that the big packages automatically provide the best value. However, this isn’t happening as much any more. In some cases, you might actually pay more per ounce for a larger package. Check the labels for the per-unit cost before buying — and realize that sometimes the unit prices aren’t uniform. You might find that one is in ounces, while the other is in pounds. Carrying a small calculator in your handbag can help you perform your own calculations to ensure that you are getting the best value.
Watch Out for Bulk Purchase Requirements
Many stores are moving to bulk requirements for special pricing on some items. For instance, if you see an ad for 10 boxes of fruit snacks for $10, you might save 33 cents on each box — if you buy all ten. In many cases, you can’t just five boxes for five dollars; you’d have to pay full price for each box, or $6.65. Make sure you understand the purchase requirements for bulk items before you start to load up. If you don’t all the items, you might have to pass, or pay more per unit.
The current extreme couponing trend is resulting in many stores changing their policies regarding the acceptance of coupons. You might be limited to the number of coupons you can use, and some stores are no longer allowing the practice of coupon stacking. Make sure you double check coupon policies at the stores you frequent, since it might affect your ability to stockpile certain items.