As prices continue to climb while incomes continue to lag, there’s one thing we know how to do—it’s comparison shop, right? We don’t look so much at the price of an item but rather its per ounce, per pound or other per unit of measure so we can compare one brand against the next to identify which is the better deal.
But that method of price comparison doesn’t always work. Take the following four examples.
Dishwashing liquid. Some varieties are concentrated. That makes it difficult to compare Dawn Ultra Concentrated Liquid at $.21 per ounce with Gain Dishwashing Liquid at $.07 per ounce. Dawn does not give any instructions that we can use to factor in this theoretical advantage. Does “ultra concentrated” mean I can use 2/3 less product to achieve a good result? If so, Dawn would be a toss up to the Gain. But that’s only a guess.
Toilet tissue. If you’ve never been stumped with this, maybe you haven’t wondered how to get the best deal. For sure it cannot be weight, since a 3-ply product is going to weigh more, than a 1-ply but could have the same number of squares. And you may have noticed these days that some brands have increased the size of the inner cardboard tube, making it appear that a roll of tissue may be of competitive size, while in truth it has much less product. So we can’t go on the size of the roll. Even counting the number of “squares” on a roll doesn’t solve the problem since some brands have reduced that size considerably.
The only reasonable method is to compare ply for ply and compute the total area in square inches. Sounds daunting I know, but it’s not really. Just take a deep breath, pretend that you’re back in 5th grade, and you’ll get the right answer.
Paper towels. This is similar to the toilet tissue quandary but stems from the fact that some towels are full size, while other brands offer the select-a-size method. This precludes comparing by the number of towels on a roll. Instead, figure out the square feet in a roll.
Laundry detergent. Like liquid dishwashing soap, laundry detergents come in varying concentrations. This precludes comparing ounce for ounce. A better method is to compare the number of loads the detergent promises. But do not trust that big number on the front of the container. Check the fine print. This refers to the smallest load. You need to adjust accordingly if you have a large capacity washer.
I am not suggesting that you should always go with the cheapest product you can find. But when you have a choice between two that are right for you, why not make sure you are getting the very best deal?
By the way, when I discovered that I could get only half the number of loads from a container of laundry detergent for my particular washer, I switched to making it myself. My homemade detergent is far superior to the commercial product I had been using. And the cost? I went from nearly $.35 to less than $.03 per load. Nothing I know compares to that.
Question: Do you have any tricks or tips on how to figure the best deal on your favorite products? Share your secrets here.
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