Why Pay More?

On a recent trip, I had the opportunity to go with a friend to pick up a few groceries for dinner.  I tend to be a pretty careful shopper, comparing prices and clipping coupons.  I know that my friend isn’t like that, and I didn’t expect her to compare the relative prices of the various sized container, or consider the merits of the prepared, salad bar veggies versus the produce department selections.  However, her blatant disregard for anything that even vaguely resembled price-consciousness shocked me.  What, you may ask, does it take to shock me in the supermarket?

When we entered the store, we started in the produce department.  There were numerous varieties of tomatoes displayed side-by-side, with prices varying by several dollars per pound.  She spent approximately 30 seconds looking over the display, without looking at the prices, and rapidly selected the most expensive variety.  Also in the produce aisle, we picked up some packaged heads of romaine lettuce.  The name brand and the store brand were side-by-side.  My friend grabbed the more expensive name brand and kept on walking.

Then, we moved to the center aisles.  She picked up a jar of pasta sauce and put one of them in the cart, completely disregarding the "Buy One, Get One Free" signs plastered all over the shelf.  In the next aisle, she picked up two boxes of pasta.  Attached to the front of one box was a cents off coupon for two boxes of the exact same pasta she was buying.  At no time did she remove the coupon and receive the discount offered.  Instead, the coupon remained on the box through check-out, all the way home and remained on the box when it went into the trash can at her house.

Further along, she picked up a small package of shredded cheese.  Sitting directly next to the cheese that she purchased was a bag twice as big, priced lower than the smaller bag.  I’m pretty sure that she never noticed.

I know that I can get a little carried away with the comparison shopping, and some of my friend’s choices may have been based upon something other than price.  However, she easily spent twice as much money for significantly less food because she didn’t even look at the prices on any of the products.  I’m sure that she is not the only person who shops this way, but it really stunned me.  I’d always thought that everyone tried to get the best price that is obviously available.  I can’t really understand why anyone would choose to pay more than they have to, can you?

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • MSwift

    I have been guilty of shopping that way. Mostly it’s because I’m in a hurry to get home, but yes it does pay to be careful. Also to make sure you only buy what you are really going to eat. W

  • airforcewife

    I know someone like that, and their nonchalance towards grocery store planning is (she thinks) a sign of how much success she and her husband have.
    I would personally rather save the money at the store and spend it on something tangible like, oh, a Ferrari or something – as a sign of our success.
    But that’s just me…