September 2019 is the Perfect Time to Buy These Things

Smart savers don’t buy things on a whim whenever a passing desire hits them from out of left field. Smart savers know what to buy and when. When they find bargains on items they use up, they stock up with enough to last until the next time that item goes on sale. And for certain, they know what to buy in September.

 

Month of September 2019 with beautiful blue background and the calendar

These folks know that summer clothes are on sale around Labor Day. So they wait, patiently, then stock up for next summer. They know which is the best day in September to negotiate a great deal on a new or certified used car. They just know this stuff!

Plants and trees

Garden centers are clearing out their stock of summer plants, trees, and shrubs. Check your local nurseries and garden departments in stores like Home Depot and Lowes for super deals! You still have plenty of time to plant and get these things growing well before winter sets in. The local tree farm where I live has its annual $.50 tree sale in full bloom—buy one at regular price and get a second for just fifty-cents. Look around, you might have something similar where you live.

Appliances

Starting this month expect to see sales on home appliances as stores are clearing out space to load in new 2020 models. Look for huge discounts and sales on last year’s models of stoves, microwaves, refrigerators and small appliances, too.

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Your Consumer Behavior is Keeping You Broke

Do you know what I love? Walking into my supermarket the day after Thanksgiving and hearing the best Christmas music ever. Yeah! And if I wasn’t in the mood to bake Christmas cookies before I got there, just hearing that lovely music changes everything. Right there, that proves I am a quintessential, typical, impulsive consumer. That retailer’s got my number.

 

Woman with debt worried about bills to pay

 

While I don’t want to stop loving music (I swoon to the Beach Boys during the summer months because this store has an uncanny way of knowing what I like) what I have changed is the way I hear it while loading up on groceries. They’re doing this on purpose, by design because retailers have irrefutable evidence that the right music can result in increased sales of targeted products to impulse buyers.

The Journal of Scientific Research suggests that loud music gets people to move through a store more quickly where slower and quieter music makes them stay longer and spend more money. Classical music at a restaurant makes people buy more than does pop music or no music at all. Music is like tasty bait retailers purposely thread onto the end of a sharp hook.

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Stores Now Offering Layaway Programs

It’s not easy being a consumer. In fact, it can be downright confusing because of all the payment choices.

First, you have your cash, your checkbook, credit, and debit cards. And then you have deferred billing, easy payments, skip-a-payment, nothing down, no payments, and the semi-popular deferred double-digit interest rates. And on top of all of that, the fine print. See what I mean? Confusion, pure and simple.

Farmer Holding a sepia tone Chicken in front of the Farm

 

Prehistoric consumers had it easy. Only one choice: chickens. They traded poultry for things they needed. The rules were simple: No fowl? No food, fuel, fun or futons!

Then along came the invention of currency. That gave consumers a second choice—one that caught on quickly since folding a chicken to fit neatly into ones wallet is messy.

A third option was born the day some unknown retailer came up with a creative payment plan, surely named in memory of the good ole’ chicken days: Layaway.

There was a time and not so long ago that every major retail store in the country allowed customers to buy merchandise on layaway. The item was placed in a backroom and customers could take all the time they needed to pay it off. Interest-free. And when they made the last payment, they took the item home.  Read more

12 Shopping Triggers We All Fall For

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 schmancy supermarket complete with shopping triggers of mood lighting, Starbucks, Panda Express and lots of comfy chairs. 

 

Fancy supermarket with mood lighting

 

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 of my hard-earned money. 

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. Retailers hire experts like Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, and his 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 a lot more. 

How important is consumer persuasion to the marketplace? “If we went into stores only when we needed to buy something,” Underhill to me in one of my favorite interviews of all time, “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 12 tricks to know about. 

1. Trigger: Beautiful Ambience

Retailers know that as much as 70 percent of all purchases are unplanned! They want you to linger as long as possible, so they create an atmosphere that’s inviting to the store’s target audience. The music, the lighting, the displays are all designed to pull us in. 

Outsmart it! Don’t browse. Just get in, get what you need and leave. True needs are not discovered while standing in a store aisle. 

2. Trigger: Colored Walls

Stores use certain colors according to the audience they’re trying to reach: Younger people tend to like bold colors; older people prefer softer hues. 

“Universally, a soft shade of blue creates a sense of calm, which makes people want to stay longer,” says Underhill. Meanwhile, most fast-food restaurants are decorated in vivid reds and oranges, which encourage us to eat quickly and leave—exactly what the fast-food operator wants us to do. 

Outsmart it! Take note of a store’s colors, then smile knowingly. Just being aware of them helps you take control. 

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July is Best Month for Hot Bargains on These 9 Items

Finding authentic hot bargains and deep discounts on the things you need often has more to do with when you shop than where. It’s all about knowing the best time to buy.

In the same way that cars are often discounted late in the season and just before new models are introduced, appliances, clothes, sporting goods, linens, home decor and even travel deals are predictably discounted for a variety of different reasons. As July temperatures soar, keep an eye out for these hot bargains.

 

 

Gas grills

July is smack dab in the middle of summer, and grill retailers are starting to sweat. And they’re checking inventory. Most people purchase grills at the beginning of the season and traffic is starting to slow. What to do with all the inventory? Sell it, baby! As soon as the last fireworks display is packed up for another year, expect every kind of outdoor grill imaginable to go on sale. Whether on Amazon or elsewhere, gas grills are a super smart buy in July because you still have plenty of choices and nearly everything available is on sale.

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The Ugly Truth About No-Interest No-Payments Offers

Have you ever wondered how retailers can possibly afford to offer the no-interest, no-payments, no money down kind of deals you see advertised? That was the subject of a question I received recently.

Woman with hand to her chin wondering about no-interest no-payments retail offers

Dear Mary: There are several appliances, electronics, and furniture stores in our area that run television commercials offering nothing down, no-interest, no-payments until 2022. It sounds like I can just walk in and take what I want and not pay for three years! How do these companies really make money? Kate

Dear Kate: First, these offers are on approved credit and come with a lot of other fine print. You need pristine credit to qualify for those attractive terms.

Good luck qualifying

One retailer told me only about 25% of the people who apply for these amazing no-interest no-payments offers,  designed only to get buyers through the door, can actually qualify. The other 75% are offered some other deal with horrible terms. People often accept these terms because, by the time they fill out the paperwork, they’re so emotionally involved and have their hearts set on that “free” absolutely awesome deal, they’re anxious to sign anything.

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Shopping With Cash is Still the Best Way to Save Money

When did you last hold a $50 bill in your hand? The new ones look strange … faintly colored, graphically random.

US-50-dollar-bill.jpg

You should pick one up some time to reacquaint yourself with something called U.S. currency. Look closely. It still reads: This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.

Here’s my question: Does pumping my own gasoline at Costco constitute a debt, either public or private?

Between the moment my gas tank is full and the moment I actually pay for the gas, I owe Costco some money. I have incurred a momentary debt, and it seems to me I should be able to pay it with my U.S. currency.

Just try. In fact, at Costco filling stations my only choice is to pay with plastic—even though there are plenty of human attendants readily available.

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This is Why I’m Crazy about Amazon Prime

It’s been more than 10 years now since I first looked into a membership service called “Amazon Prime.” Being the frugalista that I am, of course, I dismissed it out of hand for one simple reason—currently the annual membership fee. For what, I asked? Nothing tangible, that’s for sure.

I wish I’d researched Amazon Prime more thoroughly back then. I had no idea what I was turning down. By not joining until two years later in 2009, I spent far more in shipping costs alone than I would have paid for the annual membership.

 

 

a-pretty-woman-at-home-picking-up-delivery-box

 

Honestly, I am in love with Amazon Prime and my love only grows as the years go by. My life is busy and I am such a disaster-waiting-to-happen in a shopping mall environment. I rely heavily on Amazon for household needs, personal items, and business supplies and equipment, too.

Free shipping alone saves me hundreds of dollars in shipping fees every year, not to mention time, gasoline, frustration, and impulsive disasters.

Since I first posted about Amazon Prime, the benefits have increased tremendously!

How do I love Amazon Prime? Oh, let me count the ways: Read more