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16 Sneaky Restaurant Menu Tricks That Tempt You To Spend More

16 Sneaky Restaurant Menu Tricks That Tempt You To Spend More

Just like any other business, restaurants are always trying to sell you more. Without money the restaurant can’t survive and that means they aren’t immune to the same kind of trickery other businesses engage in to make you spend more. Here are some sneaky restaurant menu tricks that try to talk you into spending more money.

1. They use ridiculous adjectives

menu tricks

    Have you ever just looked at the words on a menu? The ice cream is always “sweet and creamy”, buffalo wings may be “tender, juicy, and drenched in a delicious, tangy sauce”, and so on and so forth. Restaurants go through a great deal to make each dish sound as delicious as humanly possible. The reason is fairly obvious. When you’re hungry for ice cream, you imagine that cold, creamy, and sweet treat and your mouth just waters. Restaurants want your mouth to water because it’s money in their pocket.

    2. They don’t use dollar signs

    menu tricks

      Some restaurants do but the staggering majority of restaurant menus do not. When you see dollar signs, you think of money. They don’t want you to think of money. They want you to think of food. The removal of the dollar sign is a slight psychological trick but it’s quite effective. You may be more likely to buy something if you’re not reminded of the fact that it costs you money until after you’ve ordered it rather than before.

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      3. They use number trickery

      Practically everyone knows this one. Restaurants will turn a $10 meal into a $9.99 meal because it makes the same thing seem like a better bargain. Some still will use the $9.95 model to make it even more so. Some restaurant chains (including a very clever Chinese restaurant near where I live) will even use things like $9.85. When people are surfing prices, they’ll see the cheaper stuff and unconsciously want it more. Higher end restaurants don’t typically do this because if you’re going to an expensive place, you know you’re spending money so they don’t try to mess with you too much.

      4. They use family titles to entice customers

      Realistically speaking, which of the following are you more likely to buy? “Grandma’s fresh homemade chocolate cookies” or “chocolate chip cookies”? It’s okay if you said grandma’s cookies because that’s what most people would choose. By connecting the cookies to family by calling them “grandma’s”, restaurants invoke memories of your grandma’s homemade chocolate chip cookies. The resulting nostalgia motivates you to try out those cookies. It’s effective too. Especially in those Ma and Pa diners. Large fast food chains generally can’t get away with stuff like this (although they still try sometimes).

      5. They use ethnic terms to make dishes seem more authentic

      menu tricks

        Enter any Italian restaurant ever and you’ll see dozens of examples of this. Let’s do another word exercise, shall we? Which sounds more authentic? “Shrimp spaghetti” or “Shrimp scampi tagliatelle”? It’s okay if you picked that second one, I would have too. The truth is tagliatelle is actually just the Italian word for “noodles”. Nothing fancy there, just a straight translation via Google Translate. However, by using ethnic language on dishes, it makes the food seem more authentic. For those of us bored with American food, some shrimp scampi tagliatelle sounds amazing even if, word for word, it means “noodles with shrimp doused in butter”.

        6. They use brand names to create product associations

        It sounds complicated but it really isn’t. TGI Fridays uses Jack Daniels BBQ sauce. Fans of whiskey know the Jack Daniels name and are thus more likely to enjoy sauce made from one of their favorite beverages. Buying brand name stuff is “cool” and “hip” and many claim it does taste better than non brand name. It isn’t rocket science. People will simply buy stuff more often if they’ve heard of it before.

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        7. They use anchor items

        menu tricks

          An anchor item is an item that is ridiculously expensive that is set on the menu next to other expensive items to make them seem like a better value. Let’s do a thought exercise. Which is the better deal? A $10 steak or a $20 steak? Okay, so what about a $20 steak and a $30 steak? All of a sudden, the more expensive option in the first scenario becomes the better deal in the second scenario. You put that same $20 and $30 steak next to a $50 steak and all of a sudden $20 doesn’t seem like so much, does it? Restaurants use this tactic to trick you into thinking more expensive items are good deals because they’re placed near an even more expensive item.

          8. They highlight certain items to make them seem special

          Mid-range and low end restaurants do this constantly. You’ll look in the menu and see pictures of particularly tantalizing looking items. Chinese menus will have “chef specials” that are listed separate from all of the other dishes (and they tend to be the most expensive). This is all a ploy to get you to think with your eyes and not your wallet. Upscale restaurants tend not to do things like this because they believe it to be tacky.

          9. They increase the price of the second least expensive wine

          This one is a little hard to describe and requires an explanation. According to Urban Spoon, restaurants will intentionally mark up the second least expensive wine. As Urban Spoon explains, many people are cheap (in this economy, there’s no reason to be ashamed of that) but they don’t want to appear cheap. Thus, they order the second least expensive wine. Restaurants became wise to this and made the second least expensive wine more expensive. It’s still the second least expensive but it’s the worst deal out of any wine on the menu.

          10. They design their menus in a unique way to prevent you from comparing prices

          Not all restaurants do this (most Chinese take out restaurants don’t) but there are still plenty that do. Many restaurants will put their prices down the right side so you can compare prices and get the ones you want. Other restaurants (particularly expensive ones) will put their prices all over the place and use fonts which are difficult to read. This is so you have a harder time comparing prices. They’ll generally align the columns to the center so you have to read through the item descriptions to get to the price which means you’re distracted and more likely to choose an expensive item.

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          11. They use the “right next door” tactic

          We talked earlier about the anchor item that is the most expensive item on the menu. It turns out that part of the menu is pretty important because they employ a second trick there as well. They’ll put the items with the highest profit margins next to the anchor item. That way, when you meander away from the anchor item (because it costs too much), you’ll land on items that look like better deals but will also make the restaurant the most money.

          12. They’ll use useless language to make bland items sound more exotic

          This is one of my favorite ones because it’s simply ridiculous. You know how people saying things like “PIN number” when “PIN” means “personal identification number”? Restaurants will do this, too. They’ll use language like “beet roots”. Beets are roots so the roots part is totally unnecessary. Let’s face it, though, beet roots sound better than just beets.

          13. Restaurants know where you look at the menu and organize it accordingly

          According to studies, people look at the top right of the menu first and the bottom left of the menu last. Thus, many restaurants will put the most expensive stuff (usually the anchor item) in the top right while they put the cheap stuff at the bottom and the left. Generally the cheaper stuff is also in smaller text. That way it’s at the worst part of the menu and it’s harder to read than everything else which draws your attention to the more expensive items.

          14. They use boxes

          This doesn’t seem like a big deal but it can be. Restaurants will often highlight things like high-profit items or more expensive items in decorative boxes to draw your eyes to them. It’s a very simple premise but a very effective one. When you’re just browsing around the menu, chances are that you’ll look at the part with all the decoration and pretty colors than just the plain text parts.

          15. They use vague language to keep their portion sizes a secret

          It’s also commonly referred to as bracketing and you’ve seen this before. When you go into a place and see that you can order a regular salad or a half salad. Or a half sandwich or a full sandwich. You don’t actually know how big those are but you have a general idea. The half sizes are generally marked up to make the full sizes seem like a better deal. Thus, people on a diet spend more while people who order the full think they’re getting a better deal. All without revealing the actual serving size.

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          16. They use the “first in show” tactic

          Our last menu trick is the first in show tactic. Many restaurants organize their menus. You’ll find beef, chicken, appetizer, a la carte, etc sections. Sources have revealed that people are most likely to pick the first choice in those categories. Thus, restaurants will put their most profitable items first. That way, if you’re one of the many that pick the first choice, the restaurant makes the most money of you.

          The important thing to note here is that restaurants have high turnover numbers. People who go out to eat at the nice places tend not to do so very often so restaurants need to figure out a way to make enough money to keep the doors open. So this isn’t something they devised in order to be evil or terrible companies. Let’s face the facts here, grandma’s home made cookies and tender, all-white-meat chicken basted in tangy, spicy sauce sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Being cognizant of the tricks doesn’t mean you have to hate them. You just know they’re there!

          Featured photo credit: McCullagh.org via mccullagh.org

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          Joseph Hindy

          A writer, editor, and YouTuber who likes to share about technology and lifestyle tips.

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          Published on May 7, 2019

          How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

          How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

          When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

          Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

          Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

          You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

          Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

          1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

          Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

          But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

          • Will you spend more time with your family?
          • What does retirement mean to you?
          • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

          Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

          Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

          2. Figure out When to Invest

          “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

          It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

          The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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          A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

          Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

          3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

          Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

          Why?

          Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

          Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

          Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

          Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

          4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

          Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

          If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

          You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

          1. Vanguard
          2. TD Ameritrade
          3. Charles Schwab

          5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

          Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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          Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

          That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

          Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

          A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

          6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

          The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

          Robo Advisors

          Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

          Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

          Bonds

          Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

          Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

          Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

          1. Treasury bonds
          2. Government bonds
          3. Corporate bonds
          4. Foreign bonds
          5. Mortgage-backed bonds
          6. Municipal bonds

          Mutual Funds

          Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

          One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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          Real Estate

          Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

          Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

          This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

          But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

          Savings Accounts

          Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

          7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

          Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

          So how can you master delayed gratification?

          By building your discipline.

          Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

          Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

          8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

          I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

          It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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          More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

          But, how can you invest yourself?

          Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

          Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

          But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

          Retire Happy with Excess Money

          The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

          It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

          I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

          Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

          One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

          More Articles About Making Wise Investment

          Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

          Reference

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