6 Ways Shoppers are Deceived!

Well it’s long been known that brands and advertisers use specific marketing tactics to convince shoppers to make purchases, there are some tactics that they use that, while not illegal, border on being unethical. If anything, they’re certainly not fair to American consumers and, because of that, we’ve rounded up 6 of the worst deceptions that are foisted on shoppers regularly. Read them, take note and, as always, enjoy.

Deception #1: The Packaging perception trick. The old saying about “not judging a book by its cover” could also be used when it comes to purchasing products, especially food products. Simply put, many consumers are fooled into thinking that a taller or narrower product package holds more product then it actually does. A great example of this is the large boxes used for cereal and ice cream, which look big but generally contain much less product that it would appear.

Deception #2: The “Up To” trick. This is a tactic used by many department stores when they are having clearance sales. They place a sign in a prominent location that says “50% Off” but, upon further inspection, you notice that site also says “up to”. This fools many shoppers into thinking that they’re going to find lots of items at half price but, in most cases, there are only a few while most other items are marked at 5%, 10% or other, lower, percentages off.

Deception #3: The Rebate hoax. While “extreme couponing” makes headlines, there’s very little talk about rebates that department stores offer when you buy a specific product. The reason is simple; redemption rates for rebates are far lower than for coupons. Even worse is that the price usually seen on the sale sticker already has the rebate price deducted, a rebate that most consumers will never receive and thus a lower price that they won’t receive either.

Deception #4: The “Buy X amount for X dollars” fake-out. This happens in grocery stores all the time. They post sale signs advertising, for example, 10 items for $10. Most consumers, seeing that advertisement, will purchase 10 items in order to get them for $1 apiece. The fact is however that, in almost all cases, they could just as well purchase 1 item, or 3, or even 6, and still get them for $1 each, without the need to purchase 10.

Deception #5: The ‘Price Anchoring’ scheme. This consumer deceit was brought to light in the last few years when department store JCPenney actually tried to stop using it. When their sales plummeted they changed their tune (and fired their new CEO) and went back to ‘price anchoring’, whereby they take a $32 retail price for a shirt (for example) and increase that cost to $56 in the store. Then they put the shirt “on sale” for the original retail price of $32. This has the effect of convincing a consumer that they’re getting a “great deal” when in fact the department store is getting exactly the price they wanted for the shirt to begin with.

Deception #6: The ‘low payment focus’ scam. This scam can be found on numerous advertising campaigns. For example, you’re listening to a TV commercial that says “for the price of a cup of coffee each day, you can get the insurance you need”. These companies don’t focus on the overall price but instead the “low payment” cost. Many car dealerships do the same thing, asking their customers how much they can afford to pay every month rather than focusing on what the total cost of their automobile will be when it’s finally paid in full.

Now that you’ve seen how marketers and retailers try to fool you, hopefully you’ll be the wiser and keep your eyes fully focused on the actual price you’re going to pay, not the fake one they try to focus on. Best of luck shoppers!

Trying to Consolidate your Debt? Use these 3 Strategies to do it Right

Millions of people across the United States have credit problems for one reason or another. If that includes you, and you’ve grown tired of juggling all your credit card balances and outstanding loans every month, there are a number of strategies that you can use to consolidate your debt, and slowly but surely become debt free. Three of the best strategies are outlined below. Enjoy.

Strategy #1: Take out a Line of Credit.

If your credit rating is still good you might consider using a personal line of credit from either your bank or your credit union in order to consolidate all of your debts. The good news is that in order to qualify for a personal line of credit you don’t need to own a home and, in many cases, the bank’s decision to give you credit, and access to the cash you need to pay off your debts, might come in under a week.

Once you have the money you can pay off all of your debts in one fell swoop and, instead of several different accounts to worry about, you’ll only have one single bill to pay every month. Of course the interest rate that you will get on your personal loan depends on the actual credit score that you have and, the higher it is, the better interest rate you will get.

Strategy #2: Consolidate all of your Credit Cards.

Many American consumers have several credit cards and struggle to keep track of all of them, and make payments on time, every month. This strategy  consolidate all of those smaller credit card bills onto one single card and, if you can find one with a 0% transfer rate for 12 or 18 months, you’ll not only be able to pay only one credit card bill every month but pay less in interest fees as well.

Of course this means paying off as much of that debt as possible during the low rate balance transfer period that the credit card gives you. If you don’t do that, you might only have one credit card bill to pay every month but you’ll still be paying a lot of money in interest.

Strategy #3: Take out a Personal Loan.

If you have good credit and a good relationship with your bank or credit union, you can take out a personal loan to pay down your debt. The average personal loan usually comes with a fixed interest rate that is lower than the typical credit card interest rate and, once you qualify, you can simply choose the amount that fits your budget and pay off that amount every month.

If you have the credit necessary to qualify you’ll get a great low interest personal loan, be able to pay off your debts and, when the loan is paid in full, be debt free. You’ll also have some great credit history because you’ve taken a personal loan, paid it off on time every month and paid it in full.

The Dangers of Having a Joint Account (with someone who has Bad Credit)

Sharing a bank or credit card account with someone when you have bad credit and can’t open an account yourself is a great idea, if you can convince a family member to do it.  Convincing a close friend to do the same for you might even be an option, but few have friends that are that close.

But what about for the person saying ”yes, you can be on my credit card, or have access to my bank account, in order to take advantage of the good credit that I have”. What kind of risk does that person (possibly you) take when they allow someone to share a joint account?

Plenty, say financial experts.

In fact, if what you have is considered a true ‘joint account’, which means that both people on the account (or more, depending on how generous and trusting you are) are all considered to be owners of the account 100% at all times, if there are collection agencies actively seeking to get payments from the person you’ve let share your account, the money they can (possibly)seize could be everything in the account, including your money.

Simply put, if there’s a judgment against any one of the ‘owners’ of the account, that judgment is considered to be against all owners of the account. Creditors don’t see a difference between any monies that might actually belong to someone else, and have all legal rights to take as much as the judgment says they can take.

For elderly folks who want to make sure that, if they become incapacitated, their loved ones can still pay bills on their behalf, experts say that giving those family members Power of Attorney is actually better than adding them as joint account holders, especially if that family member has a history of bad debt. (Of course there’s still little preventing that person from stealing from the account if they have Power of Attorney, although they would be more culpable legally.)

Exception to the Rules

As with anything when it comes to money, there are some exceptions to the rules above. For example, if the only funds that have been your account are from Social Security income, they are actually protected under a regulation called the “Garnishment of Accounts Containing Federal Benefit Payments”. Custodial and trust accounts are treated differently as well, and in some states there are “Community Property” laws in effect that can protect the original owner of the account.

How can you Protect Yourself

Simply put, if you’re considering letting a friend, relative or significant other share a bank account with you, or a credit card, tread with as much caution as possible. If they have creditors coming after them, or have a history of inability to handle finances well, you might want to think twice before giving them access to your hard-earned credit rating, and your money.


Retiring soon? Better Know Your 4 R’s

If you’re lucky enough to retire in your 60s the chance that you’ll live another 20, 30 or possibly even 40 years is a good one these days. Of course retirement has changed greatly in the last few decades and, rather than sitting on the back porch in a rocking chair, most retirees today are out looking for new adventures and relationships.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, you’d best know the 4 Rs of retirement so that you can have the adventures, and live the retirement life that you’re dreaming about, once you stop  punching the time clock every day. Enjoy.

R #1: Reason. First, unless you’re content answering “I’m retired” every time someone asks you what you do, you’re going to need a good reason to get out of bed in the morning. If that reason is a part-time job doing something you’ve always dreamed about, volunteering at various organizations or simply indulging yourself in your favorite pastime, you’re all set. If you don’t have anything like that however, you need to find some good reasons and find them fast. Nothing drives a retired person crazy faster than having nothing to do, nothing to look forward to and, when someone asks, nothing better to reply then “I’m retired”.

R #2: Reset. Expounding on R #1, a lot of people retire and basically live the same life that they did when they were working full-time. For some that’s just fine but, unless you want to have absolutely nothing to show for your retirement, taking up a new hobby, joining with other retirees to do something fun or otherwise completely changing the status quo of your life is definitely necessary. The goal is to retire by design, not by default, and decide on something that you’d like to accomplish in retirement just as you did when you were working. If that’s learning how to paint, buying a sailboat and sailing around the Caribbean or homeschooling your grandchildren, hit that Reset button and go for it!

R #3: Relationships. As people get older inevitably their friends and family begin to pass away. As sad as this might be, if you’re still around you’d best get some new friends or keep your remaining family close because, let’s face it, living a life alone is really only good for hermits and misers. The fact is, experts on aging point out that the key to a long, happy life in retirement is to have a very active social life. Whether it’s with new friends or old, or close family members, doing things together as a social unit not only gives a sense of connection and security but also wards off negative behavior, depression and anxiety.

R #4: Resources. Okay, R #4 is definitely the biggest.  The foundation of a happy, contented and successful retirement definitely lies in having the Resources necessary to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. Unfortunately, nearly 50% of unmarried people and 25% of married couples rely on Social Security for the vast majority of their income. For most that won’t be enough to even cover the basics, let alone have any adventures or fun.

That’s why, as soon as you can, you need to start putting money into retirement accounts and other retirement assets as much as possible. If you’re only a year or two from retirement it might be too late (sorry) but if you’re 10 years or more away, there’s still time to start socking away as much money as possible so that, when retirement finally comes, you’re ready with great Reasons, awesome Relationships, ideas for your Reset and the Resources to tackle them all.

And by the way, here’s a final suggestion; start doing that today.