Progress to Date

  • Original Loan Amount: $204,000.00
  • Balance at Beginning of 5-year Goal (1/1/08): $188,983.82 @ 6.00%
  • Balance at Refinance in February 2009: $148,000.00 @ 4.625%
  • Outstanding Balance: $0.00 (PAID IN FULL!!!)
  • Latest Payment Date: April 2011
  • Latest Additional Principal Amount: $17,623.22
  • Amount Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): $121,462
  • Time Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): 7 years 10 months
  • Interest Saved Last Month: $23,972.48
  • Total Interest Saved: $28,435.55 ($1,037.74 on original mortgage; $27,397.81 on current mortgage)
  • Months Remaining in 5-year Goal: 20
  • Average Monthly Principal Needed to Meet Goal: N/A (Goal achieved)
  • Progress List Explained

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cost vs. Value

Whenever the wife and I go shopping, we make sure that the products we buy are giving us the best value. This may mean buying a higher-priced item if the cost per unit is lower (assuming the product's performance is similar).

For this reason, I've been irritated by a recent change in an essential item which has significantly reduced its value. Many brands of toilet paper are now up to a half inch more narrow than they used to be. Sheet count is also being reduced, and in some cases the cardboard support in the middle of the roll is getting larger (giving the perception of an identical roll size, only with less usable product).

I emailed one of the offenders (the makers of Quilted Northern) and received the following response.

Thank you for contacting the Georgia-Pacific Consumer Response Center. Georgia-Pacific places tremendous importance on the opinions we receive from our customers. We understand you may have some concerns about the roll width and/or sheet count of Quilted Northern Soft & Strong. As noted at the bottom of the package, Quilted Northern Soft & Strong is about 1/2 inch narrower than before, and we have slightly reduced the sheet count.

Because of today's economy, cost is a factor. We made the decision to slightly reduce the roll to bring you the bathroom tissue you trust and not raise our price to retailers. Quilted Northern Soft & Strong continues to provide the cleanliness and comfort you have come to expect, making it a great value in today's economy. As always, Quilted Northern Soft & Strong is thick, absorbent, and gentle on your skin. The bathroom tissue features strength and durability for cleanliness, with softness and thickness for comfort. With Quilted Northern Soft & Strong, you do not have to compromise comfort for clean.

In fact, we've heard from many of our most loyal customers about how important the quality of our bathroom tissue is to them. For more than 100 years, consumers have trusted Quilted Northern Soft and Strong to deliver what they want most in a bathroom tissue: cleanliness and comfort. We would never make this change if our core consumers didn't approve of the product.
Apparently Georgia-Pacific thinks it makes sense to decrease the quality of their product as long as they can keep costs the same. I'm guessing they are also hope that a significant percent of their customers don't notice the change. Companies seem more than happy to write phrases in big bold lettering like, "NOW, 20% MORE FREE!!!" -- but when product size decreases, they pretend that nothing has changed. They prioritize cost over value.

This is certainly not the first time a company has surreptitiously reduced the size of a product in order to cover their increased costs, and it unfortunately won't be the last time. Although it's disappointing to buy a smaller box of cereal, the product inside the box doesn't conform to a standard. Toilet paper, however, is meant to hang from a roll of a specific size, and fit comfortably in the human hand. To me, reducing the width of toilet paper rolls is almost as inconvenient as it would be if paper companies started selling writing/printing paper in sheets a half inch more narrow than before -- when so many devices (printers, photocopiers, notebooks, and so on) are designed for a standard paper width.

Sadly, even though it's still possible to find a few brands which offer the older (wider) rolls, I think it's only a matter of time before the remainder follow suit. Which means that we, as consumers, will have no say in the matter, unless we want to all suddenly convert to using bidets or leaves or making our own toilet paper. I'll of course continue to look for the wider rolls as long as they last, which means I'll be avoiding the inferior Quilted Northern from now on. My wife and I still prioritize value over cost. Unfortunately, TP manufacturers seem to think we are in the minority on this issue.

This line of thinking is part of what motivates us to pay down the mortgage sooner. By increasing the monthly cost of our mortgage payments in the short term, we're increasing the value of our money in the long term, by paying less interest to the lender.

If you want to read more about
the smaller (and skinnier) TP roll trend, below are links to two articles from a blog called "toiletpaperworld" (I am not making this up) with details.


Anonymous said...

Actually...You are playing the game all wrong my friend!! Very keep this short..Soon as they aren't making any money from you then they'll get from other areas..Your taxes are going to be so high you won't even be able to afford that house even when it is paid for...History repeats but the new one that is in the making you won't be pre"paid" for...

The Executioner said...

Right, and the world is going to end in 2012. Let me know when the crystal ball sales start to take off for you.

Simple in France said...

Fascinating TP example. This fall, we moved to a new town and I compared prices on the items we buy in all three of the local supermarkets. But comparing toilet paper was completely impossible--because each store had a different brand . . .with different thicknesses, sheet numbers, roll widths . . .finally, we just got a few packs and figured out which ones lasted the longest--amazingly one pack that contained only 4 rolls ended up lasting forever. It looked like it had the least paper too . . .who knew?

I really avoid supermarkets whenever I can however, exactly because they have such misleading marketing techniques--smaller sizes for less . . .or those fake 'sales' in which the overpriced item is not at a normal price. Grrr.

RainyDaySaver said...

I've noticed this trend with many products at the grocery store. For example, Kraft shredded cheese -- the 2% and fat-free varieties now weigh 7 oz, not 8 oz, but at the same price. Amazingly, the full-fat varieties are still 8 oz. I can't definitely tie it in to the "economic situation," but it's another way we're being tricked.

I also make it a habit to look at unit prices, rather than the actual price, and compare them by brand and size in order to find the savings.

Anonymous said...

Why not choose the greener tp instead of the cheapest?

Citibank Online Banking said...

Its happening almost with all products these small deviations from the original product help them save millions while the consumers are getting cheated for paying almost a higher price for a lesser quantity of the product.