But how much IS it?

You see the signs everywhere:

“Look, we could get a big screen TV for only $88!” I joked.

“A month…” added my husband.

Now it’s true that I didn’t spend a lot of time studying the sign, but the actual price wasn’t obvious, and I don’t think that’s very unusual.

Posting the monthly price in big bold letters is a pretty common method of selling. Of course retailers want to appeal to as many people’s pocketbooks as possible, and showing “affordable monthly payments” is one way to do so.

It’s understandable, but what if you actually WANT to know the total price?

I’ve had two occasions recently where it was like pulling teeth to get the total. And I don’t get it. Me knowing that $75 a month = $900 a year is not going to influence my purchase decision.

Or will it?

Looking back, it seems that multiplying stuff like that out to figure the total does influence my decision.

Now if it’s something I’m going to get anyway (like car insurance), knowing the total is more a matter of convenience. I want to know the total amount I’m going to pay because I’m not going to be making monthly payments. I don’t care how much it is “per month”. I just want to know how much money to send.

But knowing the total can help you to compare services and prices on an apples-to-apples basis, and it can help with negotiations as well, because you don’t get sidetracked by all the “how much would that be per month with x interest rate?” questions.

Maybe I’m naive, but it wasn’t until I started paying for things in full that I started to realize this. Getting to the bottom line when making buying decisions can be a powerful tool.


  • The bottom line is the only cost I wish they’d tell me…it’s easier to compare so you can find the best deals. :-)

  • Yes! I hate monthly payments, I try and buy outright whenever possible. But of course, one needs to have some credit otherwise score tanks. But generally speaking monthly payments suck big time.

    • Yeah, the only reason I would mind if my score tanked is because credit scores are now used for things like car insurance rates. It’s too bad there isn’t some sort of “responsible person” score for them to use instead.

  • Jackie, it seems like all the car ads show a monthly payment instead of the overall price. It is frustrating if you’re in the market for a new car (not me).

    The real sad part is that this marketing technique works!

  • When I do my shopping (mostly online) that’s exactly what I want to know. How much IS it? I want to know how much taxes and shipping and everything else.

    Same goes for in store purchases. If its a flat screen, is there a delivery fee? If its a computer, what comes with it? Anti virus? Computer support? Are these free?

    Its one of the most difficult questions to get answered that I’ve ever seen when I shop.

    How much IS it??