Being a girl in the 1970's I remember my mom and grandma collecting S&H Green Stamps. I thought it was exciting to be able to shop the way you normally have to and then get thes magical stamps that you could collect and then go to a store and buy things with them. I also have very clear memories of a basket on my grandparent's desk in their dining room/kitchen combo room that was filled to the brim with coupons. I came from working-class people and grandparents who lived through the depression as children and war rashens as young adults. In my young formative year's food was made from scratch, clothes were often sewed from home, and extras came as birthday and Christmas gifts. I am by nature frugal.
This Christmas time I had a weird fascination with t.v. shopping shows. I liked having them on partly because I like to have the sound of people in the house and partly because their selling style intrigued me. Over time I figured out a few gimmicky things about this style of shopping. There are the host/hostess that had great personalities and if you were living alone or lonely at the wee hours of the night these people could easily substitute as your friends. We trust friends and want to buy from those who are familiar to us. Everything that they sold was fabulous (according to them) and had either multiple uses or appealed to your own vanity. Often there were color options and that added to the value because you could personalize the item. The best gimmick of all was what they called "easy pay". The items that they sold were broken down into monthly installments and if you paid those installments each month you were not charged interest. Often they offered free shipping if you orded that same day which added a bonus value to getting the item. Finally, the t.v. selling show used scarcity as a sly gimmick. As they did the presentation of the item they also told you what was selling fast and how much was left of an item and thus making you feel an urgency to purchase. Way to go t.v. sales companies, you hit many hot buttons for sales!
Today was my third day going to a certain department store because I had a combination of their store cash and a coupon they sent me. All together I had $20 to spend on $25 or more. I could pass up a "free" $20! This was my third time in the store looking for a way to spend this "free" money. What I have noticed about these big box department stores is that they price their items high so that they can put things on sale and make you think you are getting such a bargain. It works! Then when you go to the store and there are no sales it is ridiculously expensive! Here is an example: a mini food processor being sold at a major online retailer sells for $36.30, but at this jack-up-price department store the same/or like item is selling for over $70! All I can figure is that maybe they can get away with this crazy inflated price because they can get people to get their store credit card and maybe consumers are not as price savvy when they can charge items. I don't know, but I am no fool.
I thought I found an item to spend my "free" $20 on, but when I got to the register the young lady at the cash register informed me that I couldn't use one of my coupons on the name brand item I chose. I ended up leaving the store empty-handed. I will probably resort to online shopping and then they will have to ship my item for almost $9. They won! That free money got me in there store a total of 3 times and shopping on their website multiple times. Argh! Those marketing gimmicks. I try to outsmart them but sometimes they get me hooked like a hungry bass and a shiny new store-bought plastic bait!
Here is the lesson: Know your prices! Don't be fooled by sales/coupons/and "free" store money. Like my high school economics teacher said, "There is no such thing as a free lunch!" (Really, that is the only thing I learned from that class and it means that someone pays for the item somewhere.)