Price per Ounce

When you’re shopping in a busy store, figuring out which size or what brand to buy can be mind-boggling. That screaming child (whether it’s yours or someone else’s) is making concentration about as impossible as winning the lottery.

Well, for one, this is why I always carry a calculator with my couponing pouch. Two, the good news is that in most stores, and on most items, the hard work has been done for you. There are exceptions like the produce department and medical items, but for the most part, in the grocery section of the store, there are these little tags that can save you multiple gray hairs.

Look directly under the item, typically in the same area as the price tag, and you’ll see what appears to be a completely random number off in its own little section. However, this number isn’t so random and you, my dear reader, should consider it a Godsend. This little number is known as the ‘price per ounce,’ and you could be paying A LOT more attention to it. Think the small bottle always costs more? You just might be wrong. That used to hold true, but more and more, packaging is changing and manufacturers are hoping you don’t notice.  The truth of the matter is, that the smaller bottles are frequently becoming the cheaper option and if you aren’t checking the price per ounce you likely won’t notice the difference. Given the economy and the typically greedy backbone of most corporations, companies are placing dents in the bottom of bottles and smaller bags in boxes. Nothing too noticeable to the naked eye, but one look at the price per ounce or even the ounces on a container and you very well could be looking at a brand new number. So next time you’re shopping, take a second to check up on the price per ounce because it’s changing all over the place.

Now for those of you who are serious about the price per ounce like I am, you often buy the massive size (assuming that’s the cheapest option, of course) and divide it up into smaller portions and freeze or store extras for later. This is a great idea and it’s the beauty behind price per ounce. Why pay 5.7 cents per ounce when you can get that massive bottle for 3.3 cents per ounce? Yes, it does mean shelling more out now, but, if you use reusable containers and store it properly, nothing goes to waste, and you save money in the long run. Use this to your advantage!!!

Paying $50 a year to have a membership to a wholesale club may seem like you’re paying more and if you aren’t careful, you can easily fall into the traps. However, if you pay attention to things like price per ounce and know what costs how much and where, you’re bound to make some very good financial decisions. If you can knock 5.5 cents off per ounce of something you use frequently, those 5.5 cent per ounce savings really add up, and they do so quickly. If you’re saving multiple cents per ounce on multiple products over each year you can easily justify that $50 and you turn that $50 investment into hundreds of dollars in savings. (Passive Income)

There is a glitch in the price per ounce system, however, so don’t count it as the end all be all. Besides the fact that people assume bigger is always cheaper, there is a much sneakier catch that actually costs you in the long run. The hidden culprit: WASTE. I know, it’s word we frugalistas like to avoid because waste equals loss. We spend countless minutes and hours each year cutting coupons, making menus, searching through recipes, stockpiling, grocery shopping, and organize to save pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to add up to a savings of hundreds of dollars each year. Every once in a while that massive thing of lettuce you bought goes to waste because life happens, but it’s very rare and we are constantly taking preventative measures to prevent this situation. However, there is waste that is happening all the time due to carelessness and not accident. We may be aware enough to stop and look at the price per ounce and pick out the cheapest choice, but are we really making a sound financial decision by picking the cheapest price per ounce? The answer to that question isn’t the definitive ‘yes’ some of you just gave me. The cheapest price per ounce isn’t always the best buy. That’s because if you don’t separate and store those mass quantities properly they go to waste. And wasted product means you’re throwing away your hard-earned cash. It might only be 50 cents more for an extra 6 ounces, but are you really going to use that extra 6 ounces or are you going to throw them out in three weeks when they’re furry and unrecognizable? If it’s the latter option, it’s better to buy the higher price per ounce. Being a frugalista takes work and discipline. If you know you aren’t going to put in the effort to make the most of your savings, the half something or other job you’re doing isn’t saving you much, if any, in at all.  So make a commitment one way or the other, but whatever you choose, stick to it.

(For things like produce and meat, the price per pound should tell you which is cheapest. If you’re buying something pre-packaged and comparing it to bulk, divide the price by the pounds in the bag or container. For medicine you need to divide by tablets or ounces. For cleaning supplies it could be by sheets, how many x items are in a package, ounces, etc. Always divide the price by whatever measure of volume is available. Make a small conversion chart to carry with you at the store if you need to. Simply Google the conversion units and Google does the work for you. Example: ounces to liters.)

When you shop do you pay attention to price per ounce? And do you bring a calculator with you?

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