Monday, June 13, 2011

How Low Should You Go

Yesterday, J and I went to the store to pick up a few things. Diet Coke was on our list, because it was on sale. When we got there and began to load the two boxes into our cart, I noticed something. When did cases of Coke products go from containing 24 cans each to having just 20 cans each?

Then I started thinking. Sugar now comes in four pound bags instead of five. And don't even get me started on those boxes of ice cream that used to be a half-pint but are now much, much less. While there isn't much we can do about these new, smaller-size packages, there are a couple ways we can make sure we aren't paying more than we should.

I discussed this subject briefly in an earlier post, but the idea is worthy of expansion. When it comes to saving money, it's vital to know your bottom line. You're bottom line is the maximum price you are willing to pay for a product.

For instance, I don't like to pay more than $.02 each for wipes. Since we're wipe snobs around my house, that means I have to carefully watch the sales and catch Pampers wipes when they're at their lowest. This usually means buying wipes through Amazon. I often purchase wipes when they're at my bottom line price, even if we aren't close to running out. That's called shopping based on price, and I do that because I don't want to wait until our supply is getting low, only to find that there aren't any great sales when I need them.

The idea of knowing your bottom line for every product you purchase probably seems a little overwhelming. Don't worry; there are some great resources out there designed to make the process as painless as possible. Money Saving Mom has a great list available, which includes her own bottom line prices. Just remember that she's been doing this a long time, and her prices are specific to her region. Don't get discouraged if her bottom lines seem unattainable. Just let them serve as great guidelines that you can aim for.

How will a form like this help you avoid being sucked in by smaller packaging? Most of these forms allow you to track your bottom line price by individual units. By knowing that your bottom line is $.02 for wipes, or $.10 for diapers, or $.05 per ounce for flour, you can easily determine whether a product is worth purchasing.

There's no need to stand in the grocery store, struggling to figure out which bottle of laundry detergent to buy. With your bottom line list and the calculator on your cell phone, you can easily determine the best deal. Keep this in mind, though: until you build a stockpile and a healthy supply of coupons, you probably won't be able to achieve these bottom lines. Baby steps; you'll get there!

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