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Money Ramblings of a Financial Underdog

How supermarkets trick you

While I have nothing against big box stores, every time I walk into a supermarket (Superstore, Safeway, Save-On Foods, etc.) I have to protect my money. If you are like me – you don’t have a money tree growing in your backyard – the amount of money you can spend on food every month is limited. At the same time, big grocery stores are after your wallet in a sense, in that they want to sell you as much product as possible. Solution? You have to look out for yourself, and stick to your guns – and it means recognizing how supermarkets trick you into spending more money.


Flashy discount stickers

All big stores use flashy discount price stickers to trick you into thinking you’re getting a good deal. Sometimes these stickers are red, sometimes yellow. But quite often the actual discount given is either non-existent or very minimal. But psychologically we pay more attention to discounted items and grab them just because they have “Discount!” sticker attached to them.

One of the good ways to compare one item to another is comparing it on “money per unit” basis. Since different products are packaged differently, “money per unit” measurement will tell you which product ultimately offers you a better deal. Real Canadian Superstore started posting these numbers on their price stickers and it really helps us when we shop.

For example, if one jar of peanut butter sells for $4.00 dollars ($1.50/100g.) and another brand is larger and sells for $7 ($0.95/100g.), one quick look at “money per unit” number tells you the second product is a better deal. Of course, at that point the question is – do you really need this much peanut butter? In our case – definitely!


Large shopping carts

Shopping carts have been around for a while – the first shopping cart was introduced in 1937 at Piggly Wiggly stores in Oklahoma. Now, here’s an interesting thing – shopping carts used to be much smaller. Store owners noticed that if you make shopping carts bigger, people will buy more items without even thinking about it. As a result people buy more items than they need.

My advice to you? If you ever pop into a grocery store for a small load, grab a basket. And always have a plan for your grocery run – make a list of what you need and stick to it at all costs.


Placing healthy veggies and fruit at the door

All big box grocery stores do that – Real Canadian Superstore, Walmart, Saferway, and Save-On. Have you ever wondered why veggies and fruit are always at the door?

Shoppers’ behavior has been tested throughout the years. What researchers found is that if grocery store shoppers buy something relatively good and healthy right away, they’ll be more relaxed after it and more likely to buy something outside of the norm – say, potato chips or pastry.

As a side note, all supermarkets spray their veggies with water to make them appear fresh because most people equate “fresh” with water and shiny appearance. So, the veggies in front of you may appear fresh, while in fact they’ve been sitting there for quite some time.


I hope you enjoy my column. If you would like to comment on this or tell me how wrong I am, please visit . Also, let’s chat on twitter:

Read more Money Ramblings of a Financial Underdog articles


About the Author

As somebody who grew up in a poor family, I lacked common knowledge about money from day one. If you can think of one dumb thing to do with your money - I did it. No paid college education for me. No inheritance, no financial help from my parents.

I may be a financial underdog, but through building good personal finance habits and educating myself about how money works, I hope one day to achieve financial independence for myself and my family.

Yes, I do believe an average person can enjoy a wealthy lifestyle as a result of smart decisions. Given enough time and proper education, anybody can change their financial future for the better. This can happen even if you start very late into the game - but your financial habits have to change.

If you'd like to know more about my struggles and wins with money, feel free to visit my website where I ramble about everyday money issues.!

Contact me by email at:  [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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