A Happy Peach

Things that make my heart smile…

Doing The Math…

8 Comments

One thing you must know about me is that I am quite the Asian stereotype when it comes to math. I am pretty good when it comes to upper division math, which is to say I can do the rudimentary work well enough (add, multiply, subtract etc), but I am not a human calculator. However, I am quite adept at algebra, statistics and all other logistical analyses. Which means when I go to buy something I will sit there and calculate the numbers, and odds are I won’t get lost. This has served me quite well, but it has also shown me that a lot of people don’t really care or they may not be capable of it. I only say this because I have had to stand there and explain the number crunching to quite a few people, sometimes over and over again as they stare at me with a blank look. Just yesterday I saw that my credit was lower than expected, as it had been prorated but calculated incorrectly. I called the company up and it took me close to twenty minutes to explain the calculations for the correct value. It may not be a lot of money and some people may write it off, but for me it’s the principle. On a more abstract level I worry about that people just disregard math as of little importance.

Another thing that concerns me is that we are not getting the best value, or misunderstand the true value, when we shop. Now there are many considerations one must make when shopping one is, of course, quality. But when quality is considerably equal then we must look at quantity. So many times we think we are getting the same amount, but what we are getting is a systematically minimized version of the original. Just yesterday i bought the regular tub of ice cream and noticed it was quite smaller than the older tub. Now it had been a long time since I’ve had ice cream, but it had gone down from 2 quarts to 1.5 quarts. That’s 25% percent less. I understand that inflation occurs, but I also noticed it seemed a little bit higher in price than what I had been paying. Yes ice cream is something I indulge in periodically in the summer, and I think I may have skipped it last year. So let’s say that two years ago I was paying 2.50 for 2 quarts, whereas I am not paying 3.50 for 1.5 quarts (and those are the sale prices). I know these sort of practices are common among companies, and maybe that’s just the cost of being a customer.

Want to know something even more queer? It’s with make-up. Now I know it’s a relative price that we pay. A Guerlain lip gloss can run you around $30.50, MAC $14.50, and NYX $6.99. Sometimes it’s better and sometimes it’s not, case in point, there’s a Dior lip gloss that looks like vaseline and runs for 27.50, talk about the emperor has not lip gloss on. One of my new favorite lip glosses is from NYX, it’s called Smokey Looks, and it’s gorgeous, and I paid less than seven dollars for it. I think the most important thing is how it looks, how it wears, and what it smells like. Once you’ve applied it I doubt people will say that’s Dior you’re wearing right. Although I have had women ask what I was wearing and whether it’s cheap or expensive I will tell them. If they like the way it looks why not, and if they care about the brand more than the product then that’s their issue. Sometimes you can get seemingly similar products and the luxury brand is giving you more at the price or a higher quality. In that case your money is better spent with the luxury brand. It’s best to calculate and research in any event.

Lastly, and actually what really prompted this rant, is the new smaller MAC packaging. Now MAC has come out with some travel sized products for some of their skin care products. I’m personally interested in the Strobe Cream. I’ve heard great things and would like to try it. It’s $15.00 for the 1.0 fl oz and $30.00 for their 1.7 fl oz. Now does that make sense to you? You could get 2 of the 1.0 fl oz for $30.00, essentially getting an extra .3 fl oz. The packaging seems relatively similar, but I have yet to try it out.  And I don’t know if either is qualifies for the back to MAC program as they are skin care items (I think that applies only to make-up). So where is the loss? In fact since they are in separate packaging they can probably last longer. Can anyone find the ding in getting the wee size? I can’t.

Hmm…I did sort of ramble there. Blame it on the excessive “warmth”. But for some reason I was a bit irked with such trivial things. Ah well, does anyone else check the volume and the price? Is it sometimes just about quality? Or is it solely about being loyal to the brand?

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8 thoughts on “Doing The Math…

  1. I can’t help but to mentally calculate as well. I’m not the typical Asian at all but some things are deeply ingrained and it’s impossible to go against training!

    Most times I’ll let a little price difference slide. After all, I live in Canada. We get the worst deals with inflated prices and are slapped with enormous taxes and shipping fees. But I’m constantly aware of the fact that repackaging and rebranding results in less and less value for the consumers and more and more profit for retailers. Eventually it’ll come to a point when I put my foot down (prob. when I’m paying mortgage and feeding a brood of children). But until then, I’m a rather passive shopper and will pay a little extra to be lazy and feel comforted. I guess that just makes me a typical single gal in the modern world.

    • I am not always the stereotypical Asian, actually most of the time I am not. But for numbers I am.

      I think my poor Canadian friends get the short end of the stick. It stinks that you have to pay more for the same thing, and you don’t get the same discounts we get. But I know sometimes you just do it because it saves a lot of hassle. I’ve done it, I rationalize it that I am saving somehow or somewhere, gas whatever. And the fact that I don’t have a mortgage or kids does make my decisions a bit more me related. But everything else is so expensive, internet, gas, insurance, blah blah blah. Calculating the costs also helps me to stay on the straight and narrow. I’m trying to beat my stash into submission. Ah, the things I do.

  2. One line for Maths subject.
    It Rocks but Give me shocks. And yes, i proudly suck at maths.

  3. Oh no maths is not my strong point at all!! But I do get annoyed when I open a packet of crisps and they start way down inside the bag!

    • I know, that’s depressing. You open your yummy bag, which was all poofed up, only to find a small amount laying at the bottom of the bag. Talk about crushing defeat. Why do they do that? I know sometimes it gets crushed, but I feel duped.

  4. I totally agree with you Danielle. I compare prices of food of different brands too by calculating their unit price in my head. Sometimes its not much but you can’t help smiling to yourself when you found out you didn’t get ripped off….even if its less than a dollar!

    • Yay Tien you do the math too. I think a lot people might not. But maybe it’s because we’re both from an Engineering background that we do run the numbers. I would understand why some people wouldn’t bother since you probably end up having to get it anyway. But I do do a happy Snoopy dance when I know I saved. Plus when it’s on sale I tend to stock up.

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