Sunday, December 20, 2015

Staying within a budget: limit price and unit price

One of the fundamental ways to keep your grocery bills down is to be mindful of items' prices. Knowing what a given item regularly costs will allow you to spot true bargains when they appear, and stock up on non-perishable (and to a certain extent, also perishable) grocery items in order to lower the average price you pay, both for these items and for your shopping jaunts in general. To help me determine what to buy and what to leave on the supermarket shelf, I keep in mind two concepts: The item's limit price and its unit price.

The limit price (admittedly, this is a term "borrowed" from the stock market trade, but it seems a reasonable choice) is the highest price I'm willing to pay for the item. For example, I've set my limit price for most fruits and vegetables at NIS 10/kg. If tomatoes are currently at NIS 15/kg because of a temporary shortage, I won't buy them and will supplement our family's diet with other foods until the price goes down. If a fruit starts the season at NIS 20/kg, it'll probably go below my limit price in a couple of weeks as supply becomes more plentiful, and chances are, the fruits will be tastier mid-season anyway. If I find (non-perishable or freezable) groceries much below my limit price, it's time to stock up. Obviously, you need to have some knowledge of what items' regular prices are - the aforementioned tomatoes at NIS 5/kg are not exactly a bargain, either. There are shopping apps which can help you with this. Also, limit prices are prone to change with inflation and time of the year .

Here are some of my personal limit prices on items I buy often:

Olive oil - NIS 25/750ml
Shampoo - NIS 9/700ml
Tissues - NIS 2/package of 100
Canned tuna - NIS 5/can
Demerara sugar (in a bag, I keep on refilling the container I bought once upon a time) - NIS 10/kg

I listed the limit prices in terms of the type of package I most often encounter, but sometimes you can find smaller or larger packages of items you need and use  - Charedi-owned stores such as Osher Ad are especially known for their jumbo packs of just about everything. How will you know if it's a bargain or not?

The unit price is exactly what it sounds like - the price of an item per a given unit of weight or volume. Many stores will now list the unit price in small print on the signs which list the item's price:




For items or stores where the unit price isn't listed, a simple calculation on your cellphone calculator will suffice. For example, as mentioned earlier, my limit price for shampoo is NIS 9/700ml (7/10ths of a liter). Per liter this comes out to ~ NIS 12.85 (9*10/7). So a 1-liter bottle of shampoo which costs NIS 11.50? Good for me. I'll be leaving the NIS 15 per liter bottle on the shelf, however.

Happy and savings-filled shopping to you all!




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