Ever wonder how you end up spending so much more than you intended to? You go in with a plan knowing what you want your financial limit to be.

Or, you intend to spend on just purchasing one thing or another. But somehow when the time comes to pay the bill, you manage to exceed your own expectations.

And not exceed in a good way. But how? How is it possible to spend so much more when you only intended to hit a certain limit? Was there some trickery involved?

Believe it or not, it's very possible that's the case. But calling it a trick might not be completely accurate.

Probably a better way to put it is strategy. Certain practices many businesses use to get you to spend more without realizing it at the moment. Only when it's time to pay does it become apparent.

I can speak from experience when it comes to retail. Aside from sale prices and impulse items at the front of the store, how even regular prices are numbered plays a role in making you think you're not spending as much as you are.

Ever notice how so many prices end in 99 cents? That's one of the strategies. a price of $9.99 seems a lot more appealing than something labeled as $10.

It may only be a penny difference, but it works. That first number is the one you lock onto, and it might possibly make all the difference between you buying something and leaving it on the shelf.

That's only one of the ways that numbers are used to get you to spend more in retail. What I didn't know until recently is that a similar trick is used at New Jersey eateries designed to accomplish the very same thing.

Dining out in New Jersey _ Spending money

Trick, or strategy?

From a customer perspective, this could be viewed as a trick. But to the establishment, it's an effective strategy.

And I'll be honest here. Until this was pointed out to me by someone who works in the food and restaurant industry, I think even I paid less attention to the price when this was the case.

However, the strategy used here is quite different from those used in a retail environment. In fact, that whole $9.99 versus $10 example above works in completely the opposite way for some New Jersey eateries. And it's smart.

Burger, Hot Dog, Fries, Salad, money, food spending

Simplified appearance

Ever noticed how some, but certainly not all, restaurants and eateries throughout the great Garden State avoid using dollar signs or cents in their pricing? That's all part of the strategy.

Instead of an item being priced at $9.99 or $10.00, for example, it'll be simply marked with just a 10 where the price would be. And the font and color would also be soft as opposed to anything that would pop out at you.

And the reason for that is simple. It keeps your mind on the food items without thinking too much about the price. And yes, it works.

The lack of both a dollar sign or cents being included is what does it. So simple, yet effective.

Illustration of a restaurant / eatery menu with prices included

Not all are "tricked"

Whether retail or restaurant pricing, not everyone is influenced by these strategies. What's crazy is even when one's aware of it, they still might get sucked into it and spend a little bit more.

As for the restaurant keeping the numbers on the price simple? It honestly makes it easier. And yes, it might also help keep your mind more on the food and less on the price while ordering.

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The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 Sunday morning host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.

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