Priced Too High?

by Erin Huffstetler

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Let's face it. Saving money at the grocery store is not an easy task. If you are serious about saving money, you've got to cut coupons, sign up for all the store cards, and carefully study the weekly sales ads. Even then, arriving at the grocery store with a grumbling tummy can be all it takes to throw you off budget for the week. Now, when you think it can't get any harder, the grocery stores have developed a new marketing scheme that threatens to drain even more money from your wallet.

What is this scheme? Quite simply it is a crafty new way of advertising sale prices. Let's say canned corn is on sale this week. Now the store could list the price per can, or they could list the price for purchasing a given quantity of the item, say 5 for $1. Both methods of advertising convey the same sale price, but the first makes the price per can much more apparent to the customer.

If the store sticks with prices like 4 for $1 or 5 for $1, it's still fairly easy for the consumer to determine the price per can. However, when they start advertising prices such as 5 for $4 or 6 for $5, it becomes a lot harder to calculate the price. Add a squirming toddler into the mix, and forget it!

By making it difficult to determine the price, the store is hoping to hinder your ability to comparison shop. They want you to assume that the product on sale is the best price simply because it is the brand that is on sale, and this may not be the case.

Luckily, you don't have to be a math whiz to overcome this money trap. Get in the habit of bringing a calculator when you go to the store, and you can quickly and easily determine the price per item.

Then determining the best value is a snap!

Erin Huffstetler is a freelance writer and mother of two who resides in East Tennessee. She is the Guide of the Frugal Living section at and the owner of the site My Frugal Home.

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