Monday, July 9, 2012

Getting the best deal on bath tissue

Everyone has to buy it. We really can't do without it. It's one of those necessities that we all need, but there's no fun-factor, glamor, fashion, or luxury (well, now maybe that can be debated) about shopping for or using it. So I don't want to have to spend more than necessary for it. I'm talking about bath tissue here.

How to get the cheapest, and still acceptable, bath tissue

The bath tissue manufacturers want to confound us with their product pricing and unit sizing. If we are confused enough, we won't be able to tell which is truly the better deal. Some are two-ply, some are one-ply. Some squares are wider than others. The extreme bargain brand at one nearby grocery store, claims on the label to have more squares per roll than more expensive brands. However, in looking closely, it has fewer square inches per roll. The squares have just been made narrower. You could price it out by square inch. But that wouldn't factor in two-ply vs one-ply. I'm guessing the average shopper uses more squares of one-ply than likely would use of two-ply. There's a minimum amount we each deem necessary, whether it's been doubled over for us at the manufacturer or we double it ourselves. Unit pricing on the store shelf means absolutely nothing in this case.

A couple of summers ago I came up with a solution for determining what is the best value for our family. I bought the two seemingly best deals (that I knew my family would accept) and we used one brand exclusively one month, and the next brand the following month. I marked on the package when it went into use, so I could be certain just how long each package lasted. When the last of each package was used. I did my math. I took the price for each package and divided by the number of days that it lasted. This gave me my price per day on bath tissue. With this information I knew which bath tissue was the best deal for us.

Making this strategy work for other items

This works for other items that manufacturers' packaging makes it difficult to compare on an apples to apples basis. For instance, laundry detergent. You can buy it in bottles, boxes, concentrates, and dollar store cheapo. How can you really tell which one will be the best bargain? The dollar store may cost less, but maybe you'll find you need to use more per load. But then again, maybe not. The only way to know for sure which laundry detergent will be the most cost-effective, and still provide you with the level of cleaning your laundry requires, is to test it out.

Try one brand exclusively for one month. Then use the other brand that you also feel is a great deal, for the next month. Divide the price by days of use, on each brand, and you'll see just how much each really costs you. If you want to get really specific on this, you could keep a tally on a sheet of paper in the laundry room, and track the amount of loads you wash per brand of detergent. Then you'd divide price by loads, to get your price per load.

If you're a couponer, then you have yet another wrench thrown into the mix. You may have to do the math all over again, but not the actual consumption of the item in question. So, brand A laundry detergent or bath tissue has a coupon available that reduces the price by $1. You already know how many days this item will last in your household. You just use this new price to divide by days of use to get your coupon-adjusted price per day on the item.

Unit pricing on the store shelves is great for most scenarios. In the case that unit pricing doesn't help you, this price per use, or per day, is another method to assess whether or not you're getting the best deal.

4 comments:

  1. Some good tips, Lili. I've moved to only buying Aldi's TP, usually in the 8 ct double roll pack. I find it comparable to Northern.

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    1. Hi CTMOM,
      I sure wish we had Aldis here. I hear so many great things about their stores!
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. It is so funny how life is. My husband spent years in the military and the state national guard and toilet paper is one thing he is picky about. He tells me after years of having who knows what if anything and carrying around a roll with him, that he is willing to spend more on it and cut on other things...lol.

    That is a smart way to find what is most cost effective for your family.

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    1. Hi Shara,
      That's the great thing about frugal choices, don't you think? You can save money in some areas (that don't matter so much to you), so that you can spend in others (that really do matter). For our family, one of the areas we do choose to spend our money, is travel. We'll save in many other places, but still want to have our trips.
      Thanks for leaving a comment!

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