How To Keep Your Budget Under Control
How much are YOU willing to pay for a can of pop?
A few weeks ago, I went to a movie with a friend. She wanted to get a pop — I caved in and got one too.
I say caved in, because I had learned the HARD way to never buy pop, popcorn, candy or anything tentatively labeled “food” at the theater. Apparently I needed to re-learn what I already knew!
What was approximately 12 ounces (equivalent of one can) of diet coke cost $4.87. To say I was shocked, is a gross understatement!
Before I go any further I’m going to share two notes:
1. The price of pop varies widely from region to region … the principles remain the same.
2. In Canada a CAN of pop is 355 ml which is 12 fluid ounces. A small bottle of pop is one liter in both Canada and the US and a large bottle of pop is two liters.
If you are trying to live frugally and stay on a budget please understand that this discussion of POP applies to dozens and dozens of other consumable items.
When I first started freelancing I was extremely conscious of my budget. I was basically living off my savings until I could get my business going. I knew the price of EVERYTHING I purchased regularly. I STILL know the prices of things I purcase frequently … the frugal streak stuck with me. Though I am not quite fanatical about it. I refuse to waste money when driving an extra minute can result In big savings.
Paying attention to prices, and thinking ahead can save you hundreds of dollars a month and thousands of dollars a year.
Let’s talk pop.
When I lived in downtown Vancouver I would often go into Chinatown. Think “tourist trap.” On one of the streets I frequented there was a dollar store on one side of the street … and a Chinese takeout directly across on the other side of the street.
I could buy a can of COLD pop at the dollar store for $1.00 including tax. If I were stupid enough to buy a cold can of pop from the Chinese store, it would have cost me $2.50. We’re talking 20 steps.
Since it is more economical to purchase pop in two liter containers, I have several choices — I could go to one supermarket (Saveway) and pay $3.50 OR I could drive or stay on the bus for one minute more and purchase the same BRAND name for $2.50
OR, I could buy the second store’s brand name pop for $0.88. Yes you read that right — 88 cents!
I almost failed math in high school, but even I can figure out that an 88 cent — 2 liter bottle of pop is WAY cheaper than a 355 ml (12 oz) can of pop, even if it does only cost $1.00.
It takes 5.5 cans of pop to make up a 2 liter bottle.
So … which would YOU choose? (all these choices are for the same amount of pop)
5.5 cans x $1.00 (dollar store) = $5.50
5.5 cans x $2.50 (take out store) = $13.75
1 two-liter bottle (brand name store #1) = $4.75
1 two-liter bottle (brand name store #2) = $3.50
1 two-liter bottle (store brand name) = $0.88
OH … and I haven’t even mentioned pop machines or gas station convenience stores!
And talking about pop machines. The vending machine companies have been testing SMART machines for the past few years. A can of pop might regularly cost you $2.50 … but let the temperature soar to sweltering and instantly that same pop will cost $3.50. Say there is a marathon happening in a specific sector of a city? YEP, you guessed right, The prices in all the smart machines can instantly be changed.
If I own the smart vending machines — THAT is smart marketing. If I want a cold pop — I just HATE it!
Now, I know that some of you are saying Store Brand Name or No Name — NO WAY! But here’s the truth … it might take a few tests, but you CAN find pop that tastes exactly the same as Coke or Pepsi.
I’ve watched several “no name” exposé documentaries. They did blind taste-testing with people who swore they would be able to taste the difference — they couldn’t.
I can easily taste the difference between Coke (my choice) or Pepsi. I buy a store brand that tastes exactly like Coke.
Ginger Ale is BIG in Canada (I often have trouble finding it in some parts of the US). The Safeway store-brand of Ginger Ale is terrible … but just down the street is another supermarket chain where the Ginger Ale taste profile is perfect.
Sometimes you just HAVE to have a Coke and you have to pay the price. Either suck it up and don’t buy (movie theaters) or go with the flow. Spending $2.50 for a can of coke now and again won’t bankrupt you. Doing it all the time, just might!
Most of the time … think ahead
and save a boatload of money.
The difference between 88 cents and $13.50
is not to be sneezed at.
Invest is a good vacuum insulated tumbler. Take it to work with you, or carry it into the theater — I’m very discrete and have NEVER had theater staff stop me.
Here’s an insulated tumbler that is similar to the one I use. It is 40 ounces (a little more than a liter), comes in a variety of colors, and has hundreds of rave reviews for both hot and icy cold. It’s less than $15 and it will last for years.
I mentioned at the beginning of this article that the same money-saving principles applies to many other items you purchase on a regular basis. Most big supermarkets have a “sale” schedule. For example they put their name brand pop and other name brand items on sale once every six weeks. Stock up when the price is at its lowest.
The quick MONEY SAVING nutshell:
- Know your prices, it will make a big difference.
- Check out several different supermarkets for all your regularly stocked groceries.
- Pay attention to the sales cycles (usually 6 or 8 weeks).
- Stock up when the prices are cheapest.
Am I a cheapskate? Maybe.