9/21/09

Mind Games

Today's Musings could really be posted under Frugal Friday as it has to do with grocery store savings but I decided it would work for today's pondering.

On Saturday Honeybear and I went to several different grocery stores to take advantage of store sales and coupons I'd printed. Two of the three stores print your "savings" on the receipt. Something like "You saved 60% because you used your club membership" and it breaks down how much you had in "membership" savings, "store coupons" and "manufacture coupons".

On the way home from the last store, Honeybear said "man, those mind games are starting to get to me". You see the last store, the store we spent the most money at, didn't print a nice "you saved gazillions of dollars by shopping here" tag on the receipt. Yes it did total our in store coupons and our manufacture coupons but it lacked that big number that tells you just how much you save by shopping at their store.

Honeybear was feeling himself getting sucked into the mind set that he really was saving 60%. Oh intellectually he knew and I knew and I knew he knew that we were not really saving that much money because we would *never* pay those store prices anyway. We only bought the stuff because it was on sale and I had a coupon and that made it cheaper than store C.

Store C is consistently cheaper than stores A or B when it comes to "regular prices" and often their "everyday low price" is cheaper than Store A or B's sale price. Store C doesn't have to play mind games to make you feel better about shopping at their store.

But yet, there is something about seeing "you saved 60%" on your order today that makes you feel good even though you didn't really save 60% because you would not have paid those kinds of prices. I know I saved more money than my cash register receipt says at Store C because many of the items were on sale to begin with and I could play my own mind game with myself by telling myself how much I saved by shopping at Store C instead of A or B for those items but since I *will* pay those prices at Store C and I will *not* pay those prices at A or B is it really a savings? In any case, that particular mind game did make honeybear feel better when I pointed out how much MORE I would have spent had I purchased those items at store A or store B.

I'm sure there's a deeper lesson that we can learn here about how we are manipulated by data to stir emotions and sway opinions to their point of view, but I'm about to serve dinner so I'll let it rest.

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