7 Ways to Outsmart Retailers’ Clever Tricks That Get Us to Spend More

I blame my suspicious nature on my neighborhood grocery store. The store used to be a logically arranged market with bright lights and clean floors—a basic, friendly, functional place to shop.

Then the bulldozers morphed it into a big fancy supermarket complete with clothing, mood lighting and cushy chairs. And hidden cameras.

I have nothing against beautiful spaces and modern conveniences, but I’m no fool. I knew all of this effort was to one end: to get me to spend more. Take the “Three for $6!” special of the week. “Why not just say $2 each and drop the exclamation mark?” I muttered to myself as I placed one jar of spaghetti sauce in the cart. Before I could wheel away I had my answer: I saw several customers dutifully place three jars in their carts. Not two, not four, but three jars.

That response was no accident. In fact, that’s a simple example of how retailers use tricks to persuade consumers to buy more.

It’s been a few years since I had the privilege to interview Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping. Retailers hire Underhil’s company, Envirosell, to follow thousands of shoppers a year in person and on videotape, observing their every move.

Using this information, the stores find ways to get people to shop longer, spend more and return often. Underhill and his crew are so good at what they do, they can tell retailers what will entice people to enter the store, which way they’ll look once they’re inside, and more.

How important is consumer persuasion to the marketplace? “If we went into stores only when we needed to buy something,” Underhill told me, “and if once there we bought only what we needed, the economy would collapse. Boom.”

No one wants the economy to get any worse, but we don’t want to overspend either. So our defense as consumers is to educate ourselves. Here are 7 tricks together with easy ways to outsmart those sneaky  retailers.

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How to Make Fabulous Meals Using a Formula, Not a Recipe

Ever feel like kitchen klutz? Wish you could take that odd assortment of stuff in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and make something delicious without a specific recipe and without having to run to the market?

Well, grab your whisk and shout for joy! Thanks to this Fool-Proof 5-Step Formula you can create fabulous, original, homemade, delicious and nutritious entrees designed by You, using the items you have on hand.

Step 1: Combine 1 8-ounce carton sour cream, 1 cup milk, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper with one item from Group A, which is coming up below (omit sour cream and milk when using tomatoes).

Step 2: Stir in one item from each of Groups B, C, D, and E (ditto)

Step 3: Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9- x 2-inch baking dish.

Step 4: Sprinkle with one or two choices from Group F (yep, below).

Step 5: Cover and bake casserole at 350 F, for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 additional minutes. Servings: 6.

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Mistakes Teach Us What Doesn’t Work

NEWS FLASH! Tomorrow marks the start of our 40-Day Christmas Challenge! For 40 of the days between now and Christmas, I will be posting a challenge on our Facebook Page. Each challenge will suggest something to do that day to get ready for Christmas. We’ll do this together using the comments feature to discuss, encourage and share ideas. Together, we’ll reduce our stress, increase our joy, stay out of debt—and have fun, too! Are you up to the challenge? Go there now and “Like” our page to get on board and you won’t miss anything!

Have you made any mistakes lately? Want to talk about it? Most people don’t. Can’t say that I blame them. It’s embarrassing.

And when it’s a really dumb mistake, well that’s something you hope to never have to think about again. And that’s a mistake.

Mistakes are useful because they teach us what doesn’t work. But making the same mistake over and over again while expecting different results—well, that’s the definition of insanity!

I’ve accumulated a list of mistakes over many years. It’s like a trophy now—a specific compilation of things that I do not have to do again because I’ve proven they do not work.

It doesn’t work to be in a supermarket without a plan.

Walking into the grocery store without a plan (written list, coupons and cash) is a terrible mistake. I know me. Without my “crutches” I am a $200 mistake just waiting to happen. And if I’m hungry? Make that $300.

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How to Shop with CASH at Amazon

I can’t think of many things worse than waking up on Dec. 26 with a raging debt hangover—an all-too-common after-Christmas condition.

The only reason you paid for everything with a credit card is that it was convenient. Besides, it’s not safe to shop online with a debit card, so what were your options?

Of course, you promised yourself that you would be paying the balance in full the minute the statement arrives, but who are we kidding here?

You were already carrying a balance on every card in your wallet, so now all of those new purchases will exacerbate the problem by plunging you even deeper into debt. Worse, you don’t even know for sure how much you spent because who keeps track when you pay for everything with a credit card?

Just imagine if you’d kept your promise that this year would be an all-cash Christmas—that you locked those credit cards away where they were safe from you. You’d be heading into the New Year with a much different attitude. No excuses, no hiding the holiday bills; no worries and no regrets.

I’ve got some good news for you. This year really can be an all-cash Christmas. You can do it and make your cash stretch even further when you take advantage of the lower prices when you shop online. You really can shop with CASH at Amazon, absolutely no credit card or debit card required.

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Ask Me Anything: More Laundry Stains, Jewelry Cleaner, Ugly Toilet Ring

There’s an old proverb that says, teaching teaches the teacher. Not only do I believe this, it was proven to me once again only recently in a way that has me doing the Happy Dance! The best part? Now I get to teach this simple yet very useful tip to others.

Dear Mary: The Fuller/Stanley company recently informed me that after many years, they have discontinued their wonderful product, Original Degreaser. I use it mainly for laundry stains but is also wonderful for greasy spots in the kitchen. Do you have a recommendation for a similar product? Lisa

Dear Lisa:  I do, but first let me tell you a story ….

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All Things Considered, the Best Way to Re-sell Used iPhones and Electronic Devices

If you’ve ever wondered where old mobile phones and electronic devices like iPads and tablets go to die, it’s pretty simple.

Some get tossed into a recycle bin somewhere to be parted out and melted down. iPhones are often passed down to children to be used as iPod touch substitutes. A large number of mobile phones are simply abandoned and misplaced due to neglect. Thankfully, a growing number are finding a next life with a new owner.

As a result, the secondary market for electronic devices is on its way to becoming as robust as the primary market.

So let’s say you’re ready to order the new iPhone 8 or X. You paid a lot for your current phone and it’s still in great condition. Your plan is to sell that old phone to help pay for the new one. You have options:

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Fabulous Solution to the Breakfast Dilemma

Mom was right. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Recent medical research says we cannot afford to miss it for many reasons:

  1. People who lose weight and keep it off are breakfast eaters.
  2. People who eat breakfast are better equipped to fight off colds and flu.
  3. Breakfast boosts metabolism all day and fires up your brain cells for faster, clearer thinking.

SIMPLE BREAKFAST GUIDELINES

  • Eat when you can but within two hours of waking.
  • Eat what you enjoy. You are more likely to create a lifelong habit if it’s something you enjoy.
  • Have “grab and go” breakfast items available that are healthy, tasty and affordable.

I have a great solution for your breakfast dilemma that meets all of the criteria above: Baked-from-scratch muffins! What? You don’t have time to bake every morning?

Not to worry! I’ve got a great method that will leave you excuse-less and make you your household’s Breakfast Hero.

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6 Ways to Outsmart Picky Eaters

Got picky eaters? Don’t get mad, get clever! Use these simple techniques to get your kids to eat a greater variety of healthy foods without resorting to mealtime confrontations or worse, force-feeding.

BE PREPARED. Keep a cooler in the car that you stock with carrots, pretzels, yogurt, and water when you’re out with the kids. This trick will head off the “I’m starving to death!” syndrome that can cause an otherwise reliable automobile to veer off into a fast food drive-thru lane.

PLAN DINNERS. If planning menus for a full week is too daunting, start with only two or three days. Keep it simple but balanced. Whole-grain bread, rice, or pasta; a fruit or a vegetable; and a protein source like lean meat, cheese, or beans.

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