Unit Price, Unit Price, Unit Price!!!

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Unit Price Explained
I have discovered that many people do not take unit price in to account when attempting to shop savvily.  (Did I just make up a new word?!!)  So for my fellow frugal shoppers, or my frugal-shoppers-in-training, let me explain the value in knowing the unit price of an item you wish to purchase, or are pondering purchasing.

What the heck is a unit price??

The unit price is the price you pay per unit of measurement.  It can be the price per ounce, price per pound, price per diaper, price per napkin…..  get it?  Let’s use a bottle of ketchup for this example.  Say, you have the SALE price for a 20 oz bottle of ketchup, being $3.00*.  In order to find the unit price, you divide the price by the number of ounces.  In this case, $3.00 divided by 20, which equals $0.15.  At most grocery stores, the unit price will be listed next to the sale price.

Why is the unit price important?

In order to get the most for your money, that handy-dandy unit price can prove quite helpful when trying to decide between two brands, two sizes, etc.  Let’s take that ketchup, for example, again.  Say you have another bottle of ketchup, perhaps a 50 oz. bottle of catsup (WOAH!) for $5.00.  Which would be a better deal: the 20 oz bottle or the 50 oz bottle?  If the unit prices aren’t listed, whip out your calculator and see: $5.00 divided by 50 = $0.10.  The unit price for the larger bottle is less. But here’s where it gets tricky.  Say the grocery store is running a BOGO** sale for the 20 oz bottle.  Then, you would be getting DOUBLE the ketchup (40 oz.) for $3.00.  Is that a better deal?  Do the math to see: $3.00 divided by 40 = $0.075.  In this case, the two bottles are a better deal than the one big bottle.
Does the unit price change when using coupons?
When you have a coupon to factor in to the equation, it does change the unit price for said item.  But, with a quick zip of the calculator (or your wonderful math-friendly brain), you can determine the better deal.  Sticking with our ketchup bottles, let’s play with a few scenarios. First, let’s say you have a coupon for $0.50 off 2 bottles (which means $0.25 off each bottle).  Calculate the unit price for the two 20 ounce bottles.  $6.00 – $0.50 = $5.50.  So, $5.50 divided by 40 oz = $0.13.  The unit price for two 50 oz bottles at $5.00 each:  $10.00 ($5 x 2) – $0.50 = $9.50.  $9.50 divided by 50 oz = $0.19.  So, again, the unit price for the two smaller bottles would be a better deal. Second, let’s say you have the same $0.50 off coupon for two bottles, along with a BOGO sale.  Go back to the original sale price for one, take off the coupon, and divide.  So the two 20 oz bottles would be $3.00 minus $0.50, making them $2.50.  Divded by 40 oz, gives you a unit price of $0.0625.  And for the two 50 oz bottles: $5.00 – $0.50 = $4.50/100 = $0.045.  So, in this case, the BOGO and coupon work best with the bigger bottles.

I Still Don’t Get It!?  Gimme some more examples!!

Couldn’t catch up using the ketchup and catsup?  Read on, fellow Frugallers to get another explanation…
Since unit price isn’t always available on items (like diapers), you’ll need to be able to calculate the unit price on your own.  Check out this scenario, using unit price and coupons: First, let’s say that a certain brand of diapers comes in two different packages: the “jumbo” or the “mega” pack.  The “Jumbo” holds 40 diapers for $8.99; the Mega holds 80 for $17.99.  Which is the better deal??  The unit prices would be as follows: “Jumbo”: $8.99/40 = $0.225 (rounded off)  That means you pay roughly 23 cents per diaper. “Mega”: $17.99/80 = $0.225 (rounded off)  That means you pay roughly 23 cents per diaper. In this case, you’ll pay about the same.  However…..
But what about coupons?  This certain brand often has $3.00 coupons floating around.  So let’s play with that:  “Jumbo”: $8.99 – $3.00 = $5.99 / 40 = $0.149 unit price (a little under 15 cents per diaper) “Mega”: $17.99 – $3.00 = 14.99 / 80 = $0.187 unit price (a little under 19 cents per diaper) So, in this case, the coupon makes the difference: the smaller size is the better deal.

Unit Price: The bottom line

My point in sharing this wonderful math knowledge is to show you that, sometimes the advertised deals are not always the best deals out there!  With some quick math, you can find the best deals for your money by finding the true unit price on the products you’re considering for purchase.  When all coupons, BOGOs, and other deals are factored in, comparing the TRUE unit prices can really show you where the REAL deals are!
*Prices and units of measure are rounded off to nice, even number here, because I’m just not that math-savy today.  (Except for the price of diapers, that is forever ingrained in my brain!)
**BOGO = Buy One, Get One [Free]
Keep on saving!  :o)

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