Unless you're filthy rich, you've probably noticed that movie theater popcorn costs an arm and a leg. Still, for some unknown reason, countless consumers shell out the big bucks for this greasy flick-food.
Of course, movie theater snacks aren't the only budget busters. Just think about the exorbitant cost of greeting cards, printer ink and bottled water. The sky-high price tags on those products are enough to send today's cash-strapped consumers spiraling into debt. Yet, we continue to cough up the cash for these absurdly expensive items.
Here are six outrageously overpriced products that consumers can't seem to live without.
Movie Theater Popcorn
At the grocery store, microwave popcorn runs about $3 per box, and each box includes three 3.5 ounce bags. So why on earth would consumers even consider paying over $6 for a single medium-sized bag of popcorn in the movie theater? No one knows exactly why - but for some bizarre reason, movie-goers continue to drain their wallets to crunch on a bag full of those greasy little nuggets during their favorite film. After considering that movie theaters purchase popcorn in bulk, the average mark up of movie theater popcorn is a whopping 1275%! At that steep price, you'd think those buttery bags were laced with gold.
Since when does a folded up piece of paper cost $2.99? Since someone slaps a precious kitty picture and a cleverly written message on it and then stamps the back of it with a well-known logo. That's right - we're talking about those pricey greeting cards. A consumer will spend hours poring over the neatly arranged stacks in the greeting card aisle, searching for the perfect message for his or her sister's birthday, parent's anniversary or "Just Because." The average greeting card costs between $2 and $4, and we consumers don't seem to think twice about paying that precipitous price. The mark up is between 100 and 200% - which is not quite as shocking as movie theater popcorn, but it adds up quickly. When you consider how many of those paper jewels you buy each year, it's enough to send you running for the construction paper and markers. After all, it only costs a few cents to create a home-made card.
As if college kids (and their parents) aren't financially drained enough, there's yet another inflated price they face: college textbooks. According to the College Board, public college students paid an average of $1,168 a year on textbooks and other supplies in 2011-2012. Unfortunately, broke college students are required to purchase these costly books for their classes. At least they can try to sell their books back to local book store at the end of the semester - for a few measly bucks.
You've probably heard that "Evian" is simply "naïve" spelled backwards. OK, so the well-known company probably did not choose its name for that reason - but many people believe that consumers who buy bottled water are certainly naïve. After all, water is one of the most abundant resources in the world and is available for free from countless water fountains and sinks across the nation. Yet, many consumers are still willing to pay $3 a bottle of it. In 2009, the U.S. Congress revealed that about 45% of bottled water comes from municipal taps - and then the bottled water company may or may not do some additional filtering before pouring it in their logo-stamped bottles. Still, Americans continue to buy more than 9 billion gallons of bottled water every year.
You may be able to buy a surprisingly affordable printer at your local office supply store, but don't start celebrating just yet. The printer companies make their biggest bucks on ink. Over the life of your printer, you'll probably pay more than 500% of the total price of the printer itself on ink refill cartridges. At $30, a 42 ml cartridge of black printer ink comes out to 71 cents per ml. On the other hand, the Red Cross charges $200 for 500 ml of blood, which comes out to about 40 cents per ml.
How much did you pay for those True Religion jeans, that Burberry scarf and those towering Louboutin stilettos? Probably a small fortune. It was worth every penny, right? Not so much. When it comes to designer clothes, it's pretty obvious that you are paying for the label. As a matter of fact, brand-name clothes are often marked up by 500 to 1000%. Yet, fashion-conscious consumers continue to drain their bank accounts and pile up massive amounts of debt to stay on the cutting edge of couture.