Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Cheaper Isn't Always Cheaper

Coffee Soap
   Now that it has cooled off, I have gotten back into making some soaps. Recently I made some Coffee Soap and took it out to the flea market to sell. As I was explaining about it to one of the other curious vendors, I told her that I hadn't scrimped any on the coffee that I used in it. I said that I had gotten a really good quality, strong coffee to make the soap with. I didn't get the absolute most expensive coffee, but it certainly wasn't the cheapest, nor even mid-range, either.

To my shock the woman started yelling at me, "Anna! Why on Earth didn't you get the cheapest coffee?! I would have gotten the cheapest I could have found if I was just putting it in soap!"  She really let me know how terrible she thought it was that I put a a few cents extra into my batch of soap. But here is how I figured it....

When all the calculations were said and done, using the much better quality coffee only added about another 25 to 30 cents to my entire batch of soap. If I am selling in competition with other people that make coffee soap, I certainly want mine to be the one that sells. If I use the cheapest coffee there is out there, my soap won't look as dark and pretty, and it won't remove odors nearly so well from hands, but my soap won't cost as much to make, giving me a better profit margin. But then if my competition spends the few cents more and uses the better quality coffee in their soap, their soap will look much more attractive, work much better and sell MUCH faster. The end result? I will be left with an entire batch of soap that won't sell, which means absolutely NO profit and  I will be out quite a bit of money that I can't recoup.... far, far, FAR more money than the price difference between the cheap coffee and the top quality coffee. But the woman could not understand this. She thought I was nuts for putting such a good quality coffee in SOAP. So cheaper isn't always cheaper.

Now I will admit that, initially, we did end up spending a little extra. You see, Dave and I decided we needed to try the coffee before we started selling the soaps made out of it. It was so good that, before we knew it, we had drank it all and had to go get more to make soap with! Fortunately it was the kind you get by the pound and grind fresh so we were able to just get a little at a time.

This same concept, Cheaper isn't always Cheaper, can be applied to so many things that you purchase on a regular basis. Paper towels are an excellent example. That package that is just $1 is ever so tempting, especially when the other package is $2.50.  Sometimes the cheaper package may actually be the better buy, but you will usually find that, when you figure in the number of plies, the number of sheets per roll, the thickness of each sheet, and the total square feet of each roll... that cheaper package may actually end up costing quite a bit more by the time you buy enough of it to equal the same amount that is in the more costly package.

So the gist of this post is READ THOSE LABELS!  Take the time to break down the costs and do some comparisons. The long-term savings could be enormous! Sometimes, the cheapest item isn't the cheapest for your needs.

We would love to hear examples of similar examples you have run into on this topic.


  1. I totally agree. I found waxed paper, 65 yds at the dollar tree a good deal. However, not everything at the dollar stores are a "deal."

  2. Yes you must really know your prices when you are shopping at the dollar tree. Some things can actually be higher. Thanks for posting that they have waxed paper there. I have been using white Kraft paper to line my soap molds with, but the hobby store I get it at quit carrying it. I read that I could use waxed paper instead, but I need to do some price costing on that, too. I need to see if that, too is cost effective or if I need to just save up and stock up on the Kraft paper when I am in one of our larger towns.

  3. I love to make soap (our own use) I have never heard of coffee soap sounds interesting! :)

  4. Country Life ... the Coffee Soap is for removing odors from your hands, such as fish, onions, garlic, etc. It's great for when you are cooking or out fishing.(Dave says it does a great job of removing Billy Goat odor from hands!) It also makes for an invigorating bath because it stimulates the skin's circulation. Some people use it to neutralize underarm odors. If you already make your own soaps and want to try making some, replace your water with really STRONG coffee (make sure it is very cold before putting the lye in). And I will warn you, when you hit that coffee with the lye, it puts off an horrible odor! But it disappears in the soap and then final bar smells good. A few used coffee grounds at trace for exfoliation is optional. Coffee fragrance at trace is also optional.


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