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I can be a bit of a snob.  Looking around my apartment, one wouldn’t be able to tell because I don’t keep it meticulously clean nor do I have high-priced furniture (most of it has come from Target and Ikea).  But when it comes to buying groceries, I’ve been known to spend more just to get a brand name.  I know I’m not the only one to do this; millions of people do it every day.  Most of the time we don’t think about it.  It’s ingrained in us to just pick up the soda brand that we’ve been drinking for the past twenty-some years or to purchase Kraft’s frozen pizza because Kraft is well-known and it, therefore, must be good.

Years ago I saw a report on a show like Dateline about generics versus brand names.  The report even had a blind taste test and most people went for the generic over the brand name.  They also reported that many of the products were produced by the same people as the brand name one; the only difference was the label.  Even after seeing this report, I was in full denial.  I wouldn’t change my shopping habits.  Once I did experiment a little and tried the grocer’s version of Honey Nut Cheerios but I was disappointed.  The taste was alright but the crunch was not the same.  I didn’t buy them again.

Fred, on the other hand, is a firm believer in generics.  Why pay more when you can get the same thing for less?  So, it was because of him that I tried my grocer’s version of Diet Dr. Pepper.  I was surprised.  It was actually pretty good, even a little better than the “real” thing.  The next time I was at the grocer, I picked up a couple of packs and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was $2 for a 12-pack.  The brand name 12-packs are at least twice that much.  No, thank you!

Now, I haven’t completely switched over to buying all generics, but I’ve come quite a way.  Bread?  Sure!  There’s another $1.50 in savings.  Chips?  Throw that in the basket as well!  Yet another $2 in savings.  It’s a great natural high to see how much less I spend at the grocery store now.  With each trip, I think about how I the $5 or $10 I saved right then will add up greatly over time.  Maybe one day I can actually have a decent savings account.

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Posted by on August 3, 2010 in Food

 

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Spending is not saving

Hurry!  Act now!  This deal won’t last long!  Spend, spend, spend!

As the Today Show reported today, retailers are trying to get people to spend more money quicker.  They set up limited time only deals and use other tactics to get the consumer to buy impulsively.  The longer the consumer has to think about the purchase, the less likely she is to buy it.

As someone who works in retail (whose paycheck depends on the growing sales in the store) I want people to spend their money, too.  However, I don’t want them to spend to the point that their families go without food or heat.  The mentality that in order to save you must spend is a dangerous one and gets many people in trouble.

Say it with me: spending is not saving.

The Today Show interviewed a mother/daughter duo who are addicted to online discount sites.  They admitted that they are thrilled when they get a good deal.  The question that wasn’t asked was, “Are they actually getting a good deal?”  The daughter sees a $600 designer dress marked down to $200 and instantly she has to have it.  One click and it’s hers.  “I just saved $400!” she probably thought.  What she really should think is, “I just spent $200 on a dress.  Will I wear it enough to get that value out of it?”

This mentality is where problems arise.  The consumer thinks she is saving when really she is still spending.  Unless it is a necessity, like food or water, then everything else is a luxury and should be questioned before purchase.  This mother/daughter duo looked like they were well off but this thinking is dangerous for people of all stations.  The Today Show didn’t question the mother if there was any debt involved.  That is exactly where people are headed when they continually buy impulsively.  First the credit cards get maxed out and then there’s no money in the savings to pay it off.  Fees start piling up and the debt spirals out of control.  It could end in losing the house or having to declare bankruptcy.

There is a way to avoid all of this.  When getting a “deal” on a purchase, think “I spent…” rather than “I saved…” and see if you cringe.  If you don’t, try it again in a day or two.  If you’re still satisfied with the purchase, then keep it.  If you’re still cringing, get your money back.  Another way to save could be when passing up a “deal” like the $200 dress, take that $200 you would have spent and put it in your savings.

Let’s say it one more time: spending is not saving.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2010 in Rants

 

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