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Grocery Sense
Grocery Sense

When Is A Deal Really A Deal?

Think you’re getting a good price? Look more closely. Manufacturers and retailers have ways to make you think you’re getting a great deal when in fact you’re not. Here’s how to tell.

Track Prices

It’s important to know the regular price of the items you buy most. To help, use a cheat sheet to compare prices every time you go to the grocery. The next time your child’s favorite cereal is “on sale” you’ll know if it’s a good deal.

Download this cheat sheet and start tracking this weekend.

Grocery Price Tracker

Don't Be Swayed By Special Sales

Many stores have special sales to make it seem like the more you buy, the more you’ll save. For example, a “10 for $10” sale may have a few items that are a great deal for the price of a dollar. But other items included in the sale may not be such a great deal. Most of the time you don’t have to buy all the items to get the sale price. Ask the store manager to make sure.

Compare The Price Per Ounce

Because products come in various sizes, it’s important to compare prices per ounce to determine the better deal. The price per ounce is usually stated on the shelf tag next to the overall price. Here’s an example comparing two cereal boxes:

  • 24 oz. box of cereal = $4.50 ($4.50 / 24 oz. = 19¢ per ounce)
  • 12 oz. box of cereal = $3.00 ($3.00 / 12 oz. = 25¢ per ounce)

At $4.50, the larger 24 oz. box is the better deal at 19¢ per ounce.

Beware Of Misleading Product Packages

Again, this is another an important reason to pay attention to the price per ounce or unit. The packaging may claim you’re getting “20% more” to make you feel like you’re getting a better value, when in fact the price per ounce isn’t a great value. This is also true with cleaners, such as laundry detergent. For example, the bigger discount bottle may seem like a better deal than the smaller bottle. But the smaller bottle could be a concentrated liquid that might clean more loads of laundry in the end.

Look Up And Down Shelves

Store managers will put the items they want you to buy right at eye level. Although it may be marked with a bright sale tag, check for similar items nearby. You can usually find a less expensive option on the very top or bottom shelves.

Coupon Savings Aren't Always The Better Deal

Just because you have a coupon for a name brand doesn't mean you’re getting the better deal. Check what the final cost will be compared to buying the store brand instead. It might be better to save the coupon for another week when the name-brand item goes on sale.