My daughter and I went shopping the other day. We were low on quite a few groceries and it was time to stock up. The grocery store had a sale on bulk loose cranberries at $.96/100g. My daughter has gone grocery shopping with me so many times, that while I was elsewhere in the store that day, she compared the sale to the price of pre-packaged dried cranberries, and found the pre-packaged price to be even better! When I finally caught up with her, she explained that she’d compared the prices as she knew I would do, and chose the cheaper price tag.
Needless to say, I was quite proud of how she’d handled the situation. She’s 18, graduated high school last June, and I have no fear of her ever being “loose” with her finances. Shopping for groceries has been a skill taught by both example and explanation, and she’s been an avid student! Her family will eat well in the future.
I share this story because too often, stores of all stripes will do this. What looks like a sale in one area really isn’t that great of a deal when compared to the same or similar product in another part of the same store. It’s always wise to compare first, then buy the better deal.
Sometimes the better deal is in the amount of an item. One time I and my son went shopping together. I had a coupon for a brand-name baking powder package. When we arrived at the store and compared the brand-name’s coupon with other brands and sizes on the same shelf, we quickly discovered that we could get the same couponed price in almost double the quantity by a lesser brand! Needless to say, that coupon went unused and we bought the lesser brand’s product instead.
In today’s economy, it’s fool-hardy to be brand-loyal. By brand-loyal, I’m referring to buying the same brand all the time regardless of quantity changes or price increases. With inflation the way it’s been, particularly versus the slow increase or even stagnation of wages in various industries, it pays to be flexible with the brands you buy at the store. Many times, the lesser-brand, or even no-name or white-label, has the same if not better quality product for a more affordable price. In some cases, the two products roll off the same assembly line into different packaging! Nothing brought this fact home to me more than going from a brand-name Vitamin C product that I prefer, to a lesser-brand bottle of the same kind of Vitamin C. While I’ve always known about the product quality similarities, I was quite surprised to open the lesser-brand bottle and find the exact same product inside! I’m not kidding! The tablets not only looked identical, they tasted identical and broke apart the same way in my mouth! This was a perfect and very recent example of paying more for products simply because they have a recognized brand attached to them! Going with a lesser brand or no-name/white-label isn’t necessarily sacrificing quality, quantity, or expected performance. Be adventerous, experiment. When you find the cheaper variety that you like, save yourself some pennies and make the switch.
Comparing sales, deals, and coupon offers with competing products will:
a) alert you to better savings the store didn’t want you to know about
b) teach healthy analytical shopping habits and
c) stretch your dollar much farther than it would otherwise go if you stuck to your favourite brand.
It truly does pay to do your in-store homework when out for a grocery run! Just as you would shop around and compare online before making other types of purchases, be sure to do this when you hit the store. In fact, with many stores now offering electronic versions of their flyers, you can begin your sleuthing at home, printing the coupons you wish to compare against, and going to the store armed and ready to do battle with your calculator!
Sometimes, as in the case of the cranberry story, you need to compare “apples to apples”, meaning in this case, comparing the price per 100 grams. The packaged product might phrase it as price per kilogram. To see which is the better deal, you need to take the quantity of the package, say 1.82kg for example, translate that into grams, which would be 1082 grams, and divide the price of the package by that amount, then multiply the price per gram by 100. A few seconds with your calculator in-store can mean several dollars in savings by the time your trip is over for the day.
Savings add up, and you might surprise yourself what is left in the bank when you drive home.
For more tidbits of advice, get my book, “Mom’s Little Black Book: Godly Advice for the High School Graduate”, available via this blog’s store, Amazon, Deeper Shopping, New Christian Books, and in digital format at Google Play and Scribd as well. It makes a perfect grad gift and with grad season approaching in just a couple more months, you’ll want to have your grad shopping out of the way early!