Money Matters - Simplified


Even More Money-Saving Shopping Tips

Welcome to another installment of handy money-saving shopping tips! I keep running across interesting shopping advice and resources to share with you. I haven't used these resources yet, but I'd like to introduce you to them all the same.

Spend Less to Shop Green

I must admit, I roll my eyes when I see glossy magazine features about startlingly gorgeous celebrity couples and their environmentally friendly homes -- eco-conscious right down to the hand-dyed organic silk underwear in the reclaimed oak drawers. If the planet's waiting for all of us to be able to afford this kind of eco-luxury, it's in trouble.

Poll: U.S. Christmas shopping may increase

Washington -- U.S. Christmas shoppers may spend more this year than last year, a Gallup Poll indicated Monday.

The poll, conducted Oct. 4-7, found U.S. shoppers plan to spend an average of $909 on Christmas gifts this season -- $2 more than a similar forecast at this time last year, the Gallup Organization said.

Gallup cautioned that last year's mid-October average estimate fell to $826 by mid-November.

If the spending estimate holds up through December it would possibly be enough to make this shopping season better than average, Gallup said. And if spending drops between now and November by as much as it did in 2006, the figure would still be at the upper end of the range seen in recent years, Gallup said.

Study: Vowel sounds affect consumer buying

San Antonio -- A U.S. study determined product names with vowel sounds that convey positive attributes about the product are deemed more favorable by consumers.

Researchers Tina Lowrey and L.J. Shrum of the University of Texas-San Antonio created fictitious brand names that varied only by one vowel sound -- for example, nillen and nallen. They then varied product categories between small, fast, sharp objects -- such as knives or convertibles -- and products that are large, slow, and dull -- such as hammers and SUVs.

Study participants were asked to choose which word they thought was a better brand name. The researchers found participants overwhelmingly preferred words with front vowel sounds (nillen) when the product category was a convertible or a knife but preferred words with back vowel sounds (nallen) when the product category was an SUV or hammer.

Study: Double discounts confuse consumers

Miami -- A U.S. study showed that consumers often are unable to determine the true cost of goods when confronted with a "double discount."

For example: You're walking by a store window and you see a sign that offers a product at 20 percent off the original price, plus an additional 25 percent off the already reduced sale price.

How much is the discount?

Researchers said consumers often mistakenly believe the total discount is 45 percent off the original price when, in fact, the true discount is 40 percent.

"Retailers frequently use the strategy of double discounts for their regular promotions or to induce customers to open a credit card account with them," said researchers Allan Haipeng Chen of the University of Miami and Akshay Rao of the University of Minnesota. "Such errors in peoples' judgments of the net effect of multiple price discounts ... have implications for a variety of marketing settings including advertising, promotion, pricing, and public policy."

Start Your Christmas Shopping Now!

The National Shopping Confederation has announced a new campaign to turn the Tuesday after Labor Day into the first day of the Christmas shopping season.

Evolution cited in female shopping skills

London -- A U.S. study purports women are better grocery shoppers than men because evolution has honed their ability to find nourishing food.

The report by researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Yale University, published in Britain's Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, said women call on their navigational skills when there is food to be found -- a skill probably honed on the African savanna, The Telegraph reported Wednesday.

Experiments conducted at a large farmers' market suggest the more nutritious the food, the more accurately it is remembered.

Researchers said memory for high-calorie foods such as honey and avocados was as much as four times as accurate as memory for low-calorie foods such as cucumber and lettuce, the British newspaper reported.

Back-to-School Savings

Fall catalogs are, no doubt, filling up your mailbox these days, heralding the 2007 back-to-school season. Retailers are counting on your desire to outfit your kids in new duds (or your kids' ability to pressure you into it) and to get the little darlings poised for academic success with all the right school supplies.

Advertisement manipulation studied

Evanston, Ill. -- U.S. consumer scientists have demonstrated how advertisements can be manipulated to increase the likelihood a certain product is selected by shoppers.

Northwestern University researchers said their finding runs contrary to economic models, which assume choices are based on stable preferences and shouldn't be influenced by the inclusion of inferior options.

More Money-Saving Shopping Tips

Welcome to another installment of handy money-saving shopping tips! This feature has become a series because every now and then, someone introduces me to a new and interesting shopping resource, and I want to share what I've learned with our readers.