Welcome to my “daily comment.” The ground rules Ceres and I have agreed to are simple. I can write whatever I want, ranging from a sentence to an epic, and nothing is off limits. I can even say things like, “Don’t trade stocks yourself — for most people, it’s smarter to invest through no-load mutual funds.” Which it is. Today: tuna fish.
Did you see the Seinfeld where Kramer shows up holding a giant can of Starkist solid white albacore he had bought at a warehouse store?
My jaw dropped, because I had, a week or two before, been photographed with the exact same 4-pound 2.5-ounce can (well, not literally the same can, but you know what I mean) at a warehouse store for PARADE. It was to illustrate the idea of buying in bulk to save money. And here was Kramer — Kramer! — making exactly the same point, with exactly the same prop. (He would then move on to Beefaroni as the plot thickened, but I won’t even begin to try to clip-clop through the whole thing.)
Now, what’s interesting about tuna is that it’s something of a special case. It’s such a staple, supermarkets sometimes use it as a loss leader. The six-ounce can at the supermarket, on sale occasionally at 98 cents a can — 16.33 cents an ounce — can actually be cheaper than the large size at that same supermarket, or perhaps even beat the warehouse store. Kramer’s tuna cost him $10.79 (if he got the same deal I did), which comes out to 16.23 cents an ounce.
Then again, at a non-sale price of $1.29, let alone the $1.44 I saw recently, buying the six-ounce size costs 31%, or even 47%, more per ounce. Boy. If you spend $2,000 a year on the kinds of things you could buy in bulk when they’re on sale (or at warehouse stores, where items are more or less always on sale) . . . and if you could save 31% by shopping smarter . . . that’s $620 a year, tax-free, risk-free.
And of course it’s more convenient, not less, because you rarely run out of anything, and you need take fewer trips to the store. That saves time and gasoline.
Environmentally speaking, it probably uses less energy and resources to make one big tuna can than 11 little ones. Certainly it’s more convenient not to have to open 11 little cans, if you’re making tuna salad for an army. Then again, if you’re just making yourself a sandwich, the land-of-the-giants size may use up half your Tupperware.
But isn’t that what’s great about America? Choices. Under communism, tuna all came in one size, and they were out of it.
Tomorrow: Everything BUT Tuna
Quote of the Day
Market economics as currently practiced often ... includes only what's countable, not what counts.~Rocky Mountain Institute
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