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Spending Smart: Strategies for Paying Less

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By Gregory Karp

(MCT)—Retailers spend a lot of time, money and effort to entice you to buy merchandise in their stores. And salespeople are skilled at persuading undecided shoppers to open their wallets, even when they hadn’t intended to.

shopping_price_tagThat’s part of a capitalist system and should be expected by any savvy shopper. But it doesn’t mean consumers are powerless once they cross the retail store threshold.

Many tricks, tactics and strategies can lead to paying lower prices in the store or reaping better value from the money you spend.

Here are some examples:

—Decipher price tags. Sometimes retailers use secret price codes. A glance at a price tag will tell you whether an item is truly on sale or clearance. For example, Costco Wholesale prices ending in .97 instead of .99 indicates a markdown, says personal finance guru Clark Howard, whose new book is “Clark Howard’s Living Large for the Long Haul.” At Target, prices ending in 9 are at full retail price, while prices ending in 8 or 6 are discounted but might be cut again. Those ending in 4 are the lowest they will get. At Sam’s Club, a “C” means it’s on clearance, and prices ending in the digit 1 signal the item is marked down below cost, Howard said. Similar systems are in effect for Home Depot, Gap, Old Navy, Sears and Office Depot, according to Lifehacker.com. As a general rule, a price ending in something other than 9 is a good sign.

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