How To Spot When A Bargain Is Not A Bargain

Most of us assume that we know when we see a bargain, and will even set out to go shopping specifically for bargains. My Mum for instance seems to think she’s the Queen of bargains and will often brag to me over the phone about how much money she saved on her last shop, or try to convince me to head to the super market myself because there’s a great offer on this or that.

In some cases though my Mum won’t have saved quite as much as she thinks she has, and will instead merely have been an unfortunately victim of clever marketing and cognitive bias. Not every bargain is quite what it seems you see, and often a bargain is really nothing more than bait for a clever trap. Here we will look at some of the ‘bargains’ that aren’t really all they seem…


Things You Wouldn’t Have Bought Anyway

This is the one that amuses me most when I visit home and go shopping with Mum. She’ll run round the super market snapping up almost any and every offer she can find, even though she’s buying additional things that she wouldn’t otherwise have added to her order. A two for one offer is a deal, but only if you were going to buy that one thing in the first place. Likewise if you find a cheap desert, you’re onlysaving money if you put back the desert you would normally have bought. Coming home with all manner of weird cheeses and fancy cereals is not saving money if it’s all in addition to your regular shop – particularly if it’s not ever going to get eaten. Sure, choose the item on offer when it comes down to a choice of two products, but don’t be tempted by ‘deals’ that are still adding more to your overall bill.

Things That Still Aren’t That Cheap

I often shop at a store called TK Max that sells cheap clothes and this is a great place to get a bargain. You do have to be careful when shopping there though, as the RRP included on the labels for all their clothes isn’t always all that accurate. This is the recommended retail price and it’s often 30-50% more than the amount you pay – but that doesn’t mean that the clothes would actually be for sale at that price anywhere, particularly as the clothes there are no longer new releases. Be cynical when reading marked down prices – because it may be that they’ve always been just as cheap.

Deals That Rope You Into a Contract

Mobile phone deals can often seem shockingly good. You pay a monthly fee and a small one off payment, and for your troubles you get a free iPhone? Yes please! Only this is once again more complicated situation than it may at first seem. You see when you consider how much you’re paying monthly for that deal over the course of 12-18 months, and then add the down payment, you’ll find that you’re actually not getting a good deal at all. Much cheaper in almost every scenario is to buy your own phone from an independent retailer, and then to sign up for the cheapest deal you can find for your mobile contract.

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