Do the Math to Save Money

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Pay attention to unit pricing in order to save money. You have to do the math to make cents.

peets coffee

Today’s Frugal Friday tip is short and sweet. With a mini rant just for fun.

If you’re not good at math, today is the day that you change your ways. Knowing basic math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) will not only enrich your mind, but they will also help you save money and stay or get out of debt.

Part of our frugality is typically to find a deal or get something free, right? So when you see this sign, you think you must be scoring twice: a new low price AND a free coffee.

This sign was spotted at our favorite coffeehouse a few months back. (It’s a major company, not a local chain, but it’s probably not the major major coffee place you’re thinking of.) We have been fans for almost 20 years, back when we ordered it over the phone and had it shipped to the house. Before the days of drones delivering your mail, even.

Over time, we’ve seen the price of this coffee rise, but we’ve looked at getting the shop coffee (as opposed to the variety they sell at the grocery store) a fun little splurge once in awhile. What the store sells is fresher than what’s in the grocery aisle. If we don’t want the free small coffee that night, we take a gift card instead for a cheap date night another time.

Do the Math!

Recently we saw this sign: Lower Prices on Beans, starting at $9.99. Well, that certainly caught our attention. The last time we’d been there, the lowest priced blend was about $10.99 or $11.99, I can’t remember which. For argument’s sake, let’s say that it was $11.99/pound. I’m feeling generous. That is a cost of $0.75/ounce. Expensive, yes, but we’d always felt it was worth the splurge.

Well, guess what? This “new low price” is for 12 ounces!

Here’s where you have to put on your math hat.

$9.99 for 12 ounces is $0.83/ounce, or the equivalent of $13.32 per pound.

There is no way, not even with the new math, that this is a lower price. We talked to the clerk about it, explaining that the new pricing was actually an increase not a decrease.

Apparently, he doesn’t do math well. He did not get us at all. My guess is that he doesn’t understand unit pricing or weights and measures.

What are they teaching kids in school these days, anyway? 😉

He assured us that we could still get a full pound; we didn’t have to limit ourselves to 12-ounces. He said that they changed the pricing structure so that folks who were used to the 12-ounce grocery store price would be able to compare more easily.

No, my friend, they changed the pricing structure so that they could charge us more without our noticing. 

Do the math to make sure you’re really getting a deal.

You Can Get Out of Debt

This is Frugal Friday. In an effort to make these weekly financial discussions more interactive, I’m no longer posting a link-up. Feel free to leave a link in the comments. But better yet, chat with us on today’s topic.

Do you check your unit pricing before you buy?

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  1. Always! This is something I stress with my kids when we shop for groceries. For example, on our last trip the two packs of paper towels were on sale for $2.50 and the single packs were $1 per roll. So the two packs is more right? Wrong. The two pack had larger rolls and more sheets per roll. Based on total sq. ft. the two pack was much cheaper.

  2. Yep! I always check it. The other day my four year old asked how I decide which toilet paper we buy when their are some many options. It was a good chance to introduce her to the concept of price checking (and quality vs. price).

  3. You are right about 12 oz vs 16 oz! My favorite store had bacon on sale but when I got home instead of 12 oz. It was 8 oz.????

    Its just one more thing we need to be aware of.

  4. It is crazy how packages shrink and the stores try to trick you. I opened some pasta the other night and it felt light. It turned out it was 12 oz instead of 16. You definately have to read labels and do the math to save money.

  5. This is such an important tip, especially if we shop while we are in a hurry or have tired, hungry, cranky kiddos in tow. Thanks for the reminder that the price tag isn’t the only thing to pay attention to when frugality is the goal.

  6. Gah! Kroger just did that with our peanut butter too! Actually, they changed the packaging and went from 16 oz to 15 oz and kept the price the same. Grrrr….

    Good job explaining to the guy–people need to know!– and nice Chronicles of Narnia reference (if you were intending that… 😉 ).