Money To Live

August 27, 2008

Changes at the grocery store

Filed under: advertising,spending — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
Tags: , ,

Blame it on whatever you like – inflation, oil prices, the weak dollar, or all of the above – a trip to the grocery store costs more today than a year ago.

Since manufacturers are hesitant to raise prices, they are trying some sneaky ways to keep prices the same while earning a profit. One way is to put less product in the package, which is referred to as shrinkage (NYT). Another way is to use cheaper ingredients, which Hershey is doing by substituting vegetable oil for cocoa butter (WSJ).

I am not too upset about buying less product in the old package (except for what is wasted in extra packaging). This could be good for the waistlines of American. I am more concerned about ingredient substitutions. There is more soy in some packaged foods, and while I am a big fan of soy, I am cautious due to possible health hazards (there may or may not be connections between soy and infertility).

One of my favorite grocery stores is Whole Foods, and it is losing customers to more affordable stores. Whole Foods wants to change its image and be viewed as an “economical place to shop” (NYT). I noticed this at my local WF; there are signs highlighting lower-priced items. What really caught my attention, though, is that there are 55¢ coupons in Amy’s frozen dinners. When gourmet frozen dinners come with coupons, something serious is happening in the economy.

August 5, 2008

“Deserve”

Filed under: advertising,credit — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
Tags: , ,

In the mail recently, I received a letter telling me that I “deserve the opportunities that come with a larger credit line” and that my credit line has been automatically increased by 20%.

What the credit card issuer might have in mind is a vacation to celebrate finishing grad school, a shopping spree for a wardrobe for my new job, or buying all new furniture for my new apartment. What I have in mind for what I deserve is safety, love, and nourishment.

I cringe when I hear people say they “deserve a new TV” or even a new car. An ex-boyfriend tried to convince me to get a new car because I worked hard and “deserved” better than my old leaky Saturn (rain water dripped directly on the front passenger seat). But the car was otherwise in great shape, and if my parents had not insisted I drive (and given me) a new car, I would still be driving the leaky Saturn.

What this really comes down to is how we understand and explain our purchases. A common way to sort all purchases uses two categories: “needs” and “wants.” Anything that you say you “deserve” probably falls in the “wants” category.

I propose four questions to help decide whether or not to buy a “want.”

  • Did I already know that I wanted to buy this? or is an effective, sneaky marketing strategy at work?
  • Will I use it regularly?
  • Is it fabulous? is it well made, does it fit my lifestyle, am I sure it will not go out of style next week?
  • Can I afford it? is there enough discretionary spending money in my bank account today?

If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, do not make the purchase today. Think about it, and maybe the purchase will make sense next week or next month.

When you get back from your next shopping trip without buying anything you “deserve,” take a seat and kick your feet up — you deserve it.

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