Picture of cash and hourglass representing unit price living

Unit Price Living

Unit Price Living by John F. Gillespie, Jr.

As I reflect on this past year and look to the future, I’m constantly evaluating how I do things.  At this time, you too, may be reviewing your life goals and financial  house.  As such,  I want to share a mindset shift and introduce you to the idea of unit price living. To move from only focusing on the cost of bulk items and begin to look at the cost in time and money for individual items.  My hope is that this shift will aid you in getting better results as you move forward  into 2023 and beyond.

To give you an example of this thinking, consider this: Recently, I purchased 100 trash bags for $20. That’s 20 cents a trash bag. In my home, I have a recycle can and a regular trash can, each of them uses a bag.  Previously, I would take both bags to the dump.  Now, my practice is to rotate the bags.  On the first trip to the dump, I throw away the trash and bag, I empty the recycling bag, and then use that plastic bag as my next trash can bag.

What kind of impact does that have? Instead of 50 trips to the dump, I now have enough bags for 99 trips!  In essence, I’m getting 199 bag uses for that same one box containing 100 bags.  By changing  my approach to a unit price living mindset, in essence the cost of those bags went from 20 cents each to just over 10 cents each. I got 199 bag uses for the same 20 dollars!

Reducing the money that you spend on items has a compounding effect because it’s money you’ve already been taxed on both as income and sales tax for the purchase. What is the cost of an individual egg, banana, square of toilet paper, paper towel or cost of driving a mile in your vehicle? We have been conditioned to look at overall costs by buying in bulk, but we don’t always understand the individual costs. It becomes harder to throw away or waste an item when you know the individual cost.


So how do we apply this to the things that we do in life? How do we implement this new approach when the cost is not as apparent?

In this case, you assess the impact upon your finite resource of time, which is considerably more valuable given that you only get about 30,000 days in a lifetime.

I was recently painting a room with a traditional paint roller. The process consists of getting the paint roller wet with paint, but not too wet, so as not to drip paint everywhere, then applying the paint to the wall. This traditional process includes many repetitive motions, each taking about 15 seconds.

Reflecting on this task and applying the unit price approach, I decided to purchase a paint stick roller. The paint is drawn into the stick allowing me to paint two walls without having to refill the stick.
Filling the paint stick once takes the same amount of time as getting paint on the traditional roller one time.
Painting with the traditional roller took 8 to 10 iterations of applying paint to complete just one wall. Painting a room with a roller and all the extra motions takes about two hours.
Comparatively, using the $25 paint stick took me 20 minutes! Saving 100 minutes per room is worth the $25 tool investment in this instance.

Get the most out of your time and money by adding mindfulness to every aspect of your life. Get off of auto pilot and evaluate how you spend your time and money. I would love to hear ways that you use the unit price process in your life.


Submitted by John F. Gillespie Jr., CEO Exemplar llc

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