Money Saving Strategy: Comparing Unit Prices

Sometimes it's not easy to determine if a good deal is really a good deal. I often find myself questioning whether or not somethings a good buy, particularly when it's sold in bulk. Is generic better? Bulk buying better? How about normal price with coupons?

Here's a little something that I've been doing lately- comparing not just the prices but also the unit prices of the products that I purchase. This little technique has saved me many times. I used to get very excited when my local grocery store would run triple coupon sales until I realized that I was still paying more than I would have at SuperWalmart.

Here's some info I found from NY Dept of Consumer Protection:

It's easy to find the unit prices of some items. It may be marked on a sign near the item. For example:
If apples sell for $.89 per pound, you know that 5 pounds will cost $4.45 (5 pounds x 89 cents).
If potato salad sells at the deli counter for $2.59 per pound, you know that 2 pounds will cost $5.18 (2 x $2.59).

Unit pricing is most helpful when the price per unit isn't so clear. Let's look at an example. Your favorite brand of corn flakes is sold in three different sizes.

-The 14-ounce box is $2.52

-The 20-ounce box is $3.00

-The 2-pound (32-ounce) box is $5.12.

Which one is the best buy? Unit pricing helps. (In this case, the unit price is the price per ounce)
To figure the unit price, divide the price by the number of units (in this example, it's the number of ounces):

The unit price for the 14-ounce box is 18 cents per ounce ($2.52 / 14).
The unit price for the 20-ounce box is 15 cents per ounce ($3.00 / 20).
The unit price for the 2-pound box is 16 cents per ounce (2 pounds = 32 ounces, $5.12 / 32).
Compare the unit price of each package. Which costs the least per unit?

In this example, the 20-ounce package is the best buy because it cost less per ounce.
Corn flakes are also sold in the bulk food section for $1.44 per pound (one pound = 16 ounces). Divide $1.44 by 16 and you know the cost per ounce is 9 cents. ($1.44 / 16 = $.09).
How does the unit price of the boxed corned flakes compare with the unit price of the corn flakes sold in the bulk food section? In this example, the unit price shows that corn flakes from the bulk food section are the better buy.

Remember, the larger the package is not always the best buy. It pays to know the unit price.