Saving Money with the Dollar Sign

Did you ever notice how dollar signs are going away on menus and price tags? There is a good reason for it, and if you know the trick you can avoid some impulse purchases and get the best value for your, well, dollar.

The other day, I was shopping for a dress for an important upcoming wedding we would be attending. As I was looking around, I spotted a dress that was a bit more than I wanted to spend. Still I considered it. Until, that is, I used a little trick on myself.

I mentally drew a dollar sign in front of the price. At that point, I really understood that it was far too expensive.

Many price tags are starting to list the price of the item without the dollar sign, such as in 29.99 instead of $29.99. Better restaurant menus have been doing this for years. This is because it has been long suspected that to draw a customer’s attention to actual money can lose a sale.

What was once theory has been pretty much proven fact. A joint Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University study (focusing on food menu prices) done a couple of years ago, in 2008, found that the little dollar sign symbol can greatly influence food purchase. People are more likely to spend when they see a price without the dollar sign.

Why is this?

Well the researchers concluded that seeing that dollar sign triggers all sorts of responses in our brain to help us realize that, yes, we are spending actual money, money that has to be paid. This is something we don’t usually like to do, and the brain can associate it with pain.

Now, knowing about this technique that many restaurants and retailers take advantage of may help you focus on the actual costs and values of something you are considering for purchase.

Related Articles:

How Often Do You Compare?

Department Store Tricks that Make You Spend

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About Mary Ann Romans

Mary Ann Romans is a freelance writer, online content manager, wife and mother of three children. She lives in Pennsylvania in the middle of the woods but close enough to Target and Home Depot. The author of many magazine, newspaper and online articles, Mary Ann enjoys writing about almost any subject. "Writing gives me the opportunity to both learn interesting information, and to interact with wonderful people." Mary Ann has written more than 5,000 blogs for since she started back in December 2006. Contact her at maromans AT or visit her personal blog