I was talking with someone about living with less and they asked me if I’d always been a contrarian.  I laughed because I’ve certainly not ever used that word to describe myself (but I would guess that maybe my parents could have used that to describe me during the teen years!).

I looked up the word and dictionary.com defines a contrarian as “a person who takes an opposing view, esp. one who rejects the majority opinion, as in economic matters.”  


I think the word describes anyone who is serious about living with less.  You have to reject the belief that bigger is better.  You need to have a vision for your family even if it’s different than your neighbors.  And you have to think smarter than than the marketing experts want you to think.  


That’s why an important strategy of living with less is being able to decipher the marketing tricks stores use to get you to buy more than you really need.

Here are a few marketing tricks I’ve learned to watch out for:

  • 10 for $10.  When a grocery store runs a special where you can buy 10 items for $10 it also means you can buy 1 item for $1.  The store just wants you to buy more.  Don’t do it unless you really need 10 items and $1 is a really good price for each one of them.
  • 2 for $5. When a deal like this happens it usually means that one item is $2.50.  Think independently of the advertisement.  Do you need one or two?
  •  Look high and look low.  More expensive items usually sit at eye level on store shelves.  Look above and below to find the best value.
  • Check the price per unit.  Sometimes its a better deal to buy two regular size products than one family size.  Don’t assume…do your research right there in the aisle!
  • Be careful about BOGO–Buy One Get One Free deals.  Sometimes they are a good deal, but sometimes they increase the price of the first item and you’re really not getting that great of a deal.  Consider keeping a price book of products you commonly buy and the prices you usually pay.  This will help you determine if you are really getting a good deal or just being sucked into buying two items at an inflated price.
  • At the grocery store, shop the perimeter of the store to get the fresh, less expensive foods.  The interior of the store has the boxed, preservative-filled, convenience, more expensive food.

    What about you?  What marketing tricks have you learned to beware of?

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