How much will that cost me? – Guest Post

December 17, 2008 by The Constant Complainer

Welcome to the award winning blog of The Constant Complainer.

Here at The Constant Complainer, in addition to my posts, readers can submit Guest Posts on topics they would like to complain about.  Leo Nevoli submitted the below-Guest Post.  His complaint is pricing strategies at certain stores and restaurants.  I think you’ll enjoy it.  So without further adieu, here’s Leo.

Years ago when I was out with my friends who are Jewish, we were playing foosball at a bar.  For a dollar you were to receive 11 balls and the machine would hold the ball after each score.  Since it was in a bar, the table only had 4 balls that would come out when you put a dollar in, and it did not release the 4 balls until you put another dollar in.  In order for us to keep playing and keep an accurate score, I shoved one of our windbreaker jackets in to the goal, and did the same to the other goal.  This would prevent any balls from going down and being caught in the machine, while the balls would still land and stay on the jackets after they have entered the goal.  It was after this night my Friends declared me an “Honorary Jew”.  It might be this “Honorary Jew” side of me, or the fact that I am an Accountant with a family, that tries to save as much money as I can when I buy something.  During this holiday season and any time I am out shopping, I see some things that I have to shake my head at.

For example, you can go to my local fast food restaurant and order a 6 piece chicken nuggets for $2.75.  If you want an extra dipping sauce, they charge you $0.50, so before tax you would spend $3.25 for 6 nuggets and 2 sauces.  If you take a look at their Dollar Menu, you can order two of the 4 piece nuggets and get 2 sauces for $2.00.  Just so you follow me that was 6 nuggets and 2 sauces for $3.25 or 8 nuggets and 2 sauces for $2.00, all before sales tax.  Oh, as for the price of their 10 piece nuggets and 2 sauces, it is posted as $3.55.  They also come in the box of 20 with 4 sauces, which sells for $6.00.  Quick reminder of multiplication 4 times 5 is 20, or in this case 5 orders of 4 piece nuggets, for a total $5.00 for 20 nuggets and 4 sauces.

A few weeks ago I had to order more print cartridges for my printer.  The printer uses 5 individual color cartridges and 1 black one.  At the store, if I go to Staples or Office Max, a single color ink cartridge would cost me $13.99.  I looked at their official website, and found the ink cartridges cost me $10.44 each.  I could also order the all in one set, of 5 color cartridges for $52.94.  I am assuming this set comes in one very nice box.  If you do the math of 5 individual different color ink cartridges at $10.44 this is $52.20.  So let me get this straight, if I order 1 color of each cartridge at $10.44, I would be paying $0.74 less then what I would pay if I buy the special all 5 in one box.  Now considering that I need the cartridges ASAP, I would have to pay the $16.95 for Overnight shipping if I buy the 5 cartridge set, or I can take advantage of the Buy 3 individual cartridges, and get Free Overnight shipping as part of my order.  I am sure I am missing out on a nice box that the cartridges come in, but I will still pass on paying extra.

My Wife can’t stand it when I go grocery shopping with or without her.  She goes, grabs what she wants and gets out.  I go and price things out.  For example, at our big name grocery store chain, you can buy an 8 pack of the generic paper towels, all packaged together for $5.29.  Or you can spend $4.72 by purchasing 8 individually wrapped rolls at $0.59.  For some people the extra $0.57 spent may not hurt their wallet, but for some people trying to live in a budget in this economy that $0.57 cents spent over time could add up, and mean the difference in buying a little extra food in the future.

As you holiday shop, take a look at the prices of things before you buy, you may find out it is cheaper purchasing something individually then as a whole.  Enjoy the holiday season!  I’m Leo Nevoli, and that’s my ponderings.

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  1. NeoConDon says:

    I used to question this type of stuff too, but I gave up on it. With this particular fast food chain claiming a 10% increase in profits over last year, and these grocery stores tracking everything you spend your money on with their stupid card, they know exactly what they’re doing…

    I do exactly what you do though, I buy my products based on cost per unit. I buy in bulk when I have the space and look for comparable generic products as well. What I’ve found is that the generic product is usually just as good as a name brand product, except for the packaging…That can be key when dealing with food.

  2. Hal says:

    Many consumers aren’t as savvy as you Leo. Most just roll over and pay the higher prices because they don’t know any better.

  3. Leo Nevoli says:

    Sadly Hal, you are right, not that I am patting myself on the back here. People will talk about how bad things are, and yet they try doing things to save a penny here and there, not realizing that something simple like this can save them. In a way it gets down to time and money. Is saving 59 cents on the paper towels worth the extra 2 minutes it takes to figure this out? TO me, it is just 2 more minutes in the store; to others it is 2 minutes wasted shopping.

  4. Mike says:

    Well there is a monetary value to my time. In the case of grocery shopping, yes you’re right that a few extra minutes in the store is well worth the savings on food. However, I laugh my butt off at people who will drive around the city looking for the cheapest gas. Don’t they know that they’re wasting gas they currently have by doing so. That 3 cents they are saving per gallon is completely wasted because they didn’t stop at the first one. I used to know a guy who would drive fifteen minutes from his house to a Shell station and he would only get gas there. The reason was that it was the cheapest. I tried to explain to the idiot that the half hour he was driving round trip was negating any savings he made, and then some.

  5. The Constant Complainer says:

    Mike, I’ve known people to do the same thing and have never understood it either. Why drive 20 miles out of your way for gas that’s cheaper. You’ve wasted it with your round-trip antics.

  6. Otis says:

    I seem to remember you mentioning that you’re a bean counter in one of your previous ponderings. There’s no question that fifty cents here and there adds up over time, as long as you are watching the time and energy it takes to save the money, you can come out way ahead. I do that with milk. My family goes through 10 to 12 gallons of milk per week. There is one store that is right around the corner that is always at least 25 cents less, and often 50 cents less per gallon than every grocery store around. I will often buy my food at one store and my milk at this store. At a minimum, I’m saving $130 per year on milk…as long as I don’t buy anything else when I’m in that store. As soon as I blow $1.29 for bottled tap water, I’m in the hole.

  7. Sam says:

    I try to watch spending as much as the next person, but if that means me going to 4 different stores to grocery shop, it’s not worth saving that extra $1.50.

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