Sunday, January 3, 2010

Comparison Shopping.

One aspect of shopping that people get confused about is when shopping for paper products. For this post, it will include diapers, tampons, paper plates, wipes ad nauseum. Just because a product is on sale doesn't mean it's a bargain. Stores hire management consultants to put the odds in their favor when you shop. The result is a confusing array of differing prices, quantities and features that boggle the mind and force the shopper to weigh in time and money to make a "buyer vote." (this reminds me of another voting system made confusing, but I'm digressing.) Items used to have a unit price on their shelves, but have either made these unintelligible or non-existent.

Let's just say that a diaper is a diaper. They all hold several times their weight in liquid and other niceties, they're white, and all of them are refasten able to check for, you know.

The best way is to get a calculator to figure out the price per diaper, which is the true cost of any product regardless of features, or with features in common. Buying the bigger quantity is not going to save you money per diaper or any other product for that matter. The best way to save money is usually on brand. This is because different firms spend differing amounts on advertising. Another way to save money is on features and this means eliminating or adding features to save money; more on this later.

Diapers are again, fairly easy. Meijer brand at 15.99 for 80 diapers is 20 cents per diaper, while Huggies is 27 cents and the Whisper Touch is 21 cents per. The Drybabies in the big pack (this is because we needed diapers for daycare and for the house) got picked. I type in the price, no decimal points divided by the quantity to get the true price per item.

Trash bags are a bit more challenging, but they don't have to be. Simply take the features you want and are preferably common among the ones you're comparing. This can be for the sake of demonstration, odor blockers. I used this feature and none else for comparison and assumed that all will hold 13 gallons and all will block odor. The Glad bags were 40 to a package but still cheaper than the Hefty with 45 bags. Alas, a 55 cent coupon brought the Hefty down to $6.02 or 13 cents per bag as opposed to 14 cents per with the Glad. Besides, 45 bags are going to postpone a trip to the store just a little longer than 40 will. Since we can't just fill a bag outside of the can (it just looks ghetto and the cat will tear it out) the Force Flex bags aren't a big deal and only cost more.

You can do this with food too. Just divide the price as a whole number, no decimal points, by the quantity and get the true price, or price per item. You may look pretty strange with a calculator, but you'll only have to do this periodically as you commit the items you buy to long term memory, or write them down. I've also done this successfully with socks, underwear, basically anything that comes in a quantity greater than one. Maranatha!

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