Spend wisely

Teaching Kids to Spend: Part 2 – Store Comparisons

If you were here last time, you read all about our adventures comparing generic to name-brand products. (If you weren’t, go check it out now!) That was the first post in our five part series of teaching kids to spend.

Today we’re talking about comparisons between stores.

Like last time, J chose five items to compare — wrapping paper (we had birthday presents to wrap!), men’s deodorant, Tide, Glad kitchen garbage bags and eggs. He wrote the item and the size, followed by the price at each store.

Comparisons between stores


We went to Target first and everything was pretty straightforward.

Then we went to our local grocery store (Giant Eagle). Two of the items didn’t have equivalent sizes — the wrapping paper had more square feet and there were 10 fewer garbage bags in the box.

The sizing inconsistencies made the comparisons a bit more difficult.

In all cases, the price at the grocery store was higher, but not as much higher as I would have expected, or rather, I thought Target’s prices would have been better. Looking at the individual items, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but little amounts can add up to a big difference in your overall bill.

Then we searched Amazon, with the thought that so many people shop this way now. (It also saved us a trip to the dreaded Walmart.) Our results were interesting.

Again, we couldn’t find equivalent sizes on two of the items. This meant we had to figure out the price per unit (more on that in the next post) to see which was the better deal.

One of the items, Tide, was WAY overpriced, and we weren’t sure why.

And the last item, eggs, are not available in our area.

The prices we recorded also don’t include shipping, which we get for free with Amazon Prime. There is still a cost with Prime, though, so shipping isn’t actually free.

I don’t have to leave the house and travel to the store when I buy from Amazon, so that saves me time. And in some cases I can set up recurring subscriptions that save me even more time (I don’t even have to remember to place my order) AND potentially money (sometimes I get a discount, although the price of the item fluctuates).

I guess it’s all a give and take.

(And just a note about Aldi. Although I’m a big Aldi fan, we purposely didn’t go there because they don’t carry many of the name-brand products we were comparing. If we were willing to compare store-brand to name-brand, Aldi would have most likely come out ahead.)


So, what did we learn from all of this?

  • Pay attention to the prices and make sure you’re comparing like items.
  • Prices can change — just because Target has the best price today, doesn’t mean they always will.
  • And along those lines, no one store will have the cheapest price for every item. Often stores lower the prices on certain items with the hope that you’ll just buy the rest of the items on your list while you’re there.
  • It may be worth it to ask for a price match if you find items significantly cheaper at other stores. Here’s Target’s price matching policy.
  • Don’t drive yourself crazy going to a ton of different stores to find the best price on every. single. item. Your time is valuable, too.

What about you?

What are your favorite stores? Where do you find the best deals?

Want to try this activity for yourself? Download the free template.

Don’t forget to join us next time when we talk about buying in bulk!

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