Coping: With Buying By the Pound

I don’t think anywhere is the contrast between the “old ways” and the new more apparent than the massive shift in “cost-per-pound” thinking.

Which is?

When you go to the grocery store, for example, and you have two nearly-identical products and you don’t want to buy randomly.  This is when those “unit pricing” figures are useful.  If one item is .28 cents per ounce and the other is 0.19 cents per ounce, it’s an easy call.  Or, is it?  (This is how I find rotgut booze.

(Continues below)


Back in the 50’s when Ure was coming up, there was a much broader use of “per pound purchasing.”

Take cars, for example:  When my first car came along (a 1966 Ford Falcon Futura) my dad pointed out that it was actually a more expensive car than something full-sized.  Fairlaines and Galaxie Ford products, for example.

A quick search of the web found the weight and price to be 2,739 pounds for $2,598.  This was the “sports” edition, and being a sport, driving a car 10-pounds lighter than the more staid sedan seemed to be cool.  Pappy pointed out that was just under 95-cents a pound.

For comparison, a Galaxie 500 four-door with the in-line six-banger (and three on the tree) weighed in 3,604 pounds.  It went fir about $2,800 with the “Mileage Maker 6” which was the same engine we had in our ’59 Ford.

Point is (or was) that those old road hogs were considerably cheaper on a cost-per pound basis.

Of course today things are different.  Light-weight is equivalent to higher tech, higher gas mileage, and so forth.

Cars are only one example.

Look at computers!  Moore’s Law and all that.

Just like steel prices per pound, this is an update to “modern thinking” where the “number of transistors on a chip” is counted.

Today, although you can process a lot more on a desktop weighing about 15-pounds (with monitor) that costs $600 for a reasonable refurb (with DDR4 ram, if you’re lucky) which works out to $40 per pound.

Now, look at the specs for the latest and greatest iPhone.  Amazon would be glad to sell you a new Apple iPhone X, Fully Unlocked 5.8″, 64 GB – Silver for $1,140.

Weight is so inconsequential in electronics that I couldn’t find it on the Amazon page.  People just don’t buy phones based on weight, anymore…  What I found said “6.14 ounces.”

Heavy-duty math now:  That’s 0.3837 pounds.

I can already see the headlines in the Sunday paper ad sections:

iPhones:  On Sale Today-Only for $2,971 per pound!

See how our thinking has changed?  I bet you didn’t think about that before today!

Now that you have, we can move forward with a further dose of retro-think which is actually useful for contexting the world gone mad.

The Cost of Nothing Index

Going from memory here (a dangerous thing at my age) the original “Cost of Nothing Index” was compiled by Richard Buck.


You may not be familiar with him, but he co-wrote a book with Paul Merriman, one of the Northwest’s better financial advisors.  Still available, too.  See “Financial Fitness Forever: 5 Steps to More Money, Less Risk, and More Peace of Mind.” Have your credit card ready…

Before writing with Merriman, I believe this is the Richard Buck who – as an enterprising Seattle Times business reporter in the days before instant press releases – wrote this concept up as a column.  It’s still a good idea today.

You start by looking at your bills.  Then you look at any charges that accrue before you use any product at all.

I’ll give you an example:  The local water company is the only bill that we don’t write an old-fashioned check for.  Know why?  Because a water bill is one of the few things that can place a lien on property until satisfied.  I digress.  Here’s what the bill looks like:

See the VFD Donation?  Hopefully that will stay a “cost for nothing” but as we age, it’s yet-another casino-like bet we make every month.  Life being a gamble, this is one we hope to keep losing!

Point is:  Except for a one-time leak resulting in us putting in new lines on the house side of the meter (shifting land will do that) we’ve never gone over the 3,600 whatever units.

In other words, if we didn’t drink any water or flush for an entire month, this bill would unflinchingly remain $37.86.

That’s a “cost of nothing.”

This is popular with power companies, too, which seem to be attracted to something called “customer charges.”  The idea that not only do you have to buy the goods, but now (in corporate hypnotized and drugged America) it is de rigueur that hapless sheep pay for the privilege of spending their money. FMTT.

Even if you have basic telephone service, and an old-style land line, you will have to pay not only the line charges, but local, state, 9-1-1 taxes and all that other stuff.

Even if you don’t make – or get – a single call.

Same thing with cable:  If you have a cable bill, even if you don’t watch a single TV show, you still get billed.

It’s a racket – and a very profitable one for a lot of corporations.

People just don’t think as critically about nothing, anymore.  They will sign up for stuff and not really use it.

There’s a “mental fitness” training program that Elaine wanted to use.  So I signed us up…and guess what?  She got too busy to use it.  We bought the “family plan” – and there was a 2-day of flurry of interest.  Then kaput!  But since we had paid…it turned into another “cost of nothing.”

When you begin looking really hard at your personal finances. you might be able to find several ways to get out of “customer” and “basic service” charges.  But, like I said, it’s become so de rigueur that you may not have any choice.

We certainly didn’t with the water supplier.

But, since we don’t hit the threshold, maybe another pot of coffee is in order.

Serious Market Time

A couple of readers wondered why I wasn’t reviewing comments most often during the day.  We’ve had some great ones, by the way.  Up 7 percent in the last couple of weeks.  But it does take focus.  A solid decline today would put us up 10 percent for two weeks.

The short answer for less review time is busy!  When I’m not watching the market minutely and trading using the principles outlined on Peoplenomics, I’ve been spending a lot of time working around the house on things like the bathroom (which looks dandy now) and getting ready for next Big Projects.

Weather is starting to close-in on use in East Texas.  We have four months when the devil itself would be comfortable and during that time, the shop gets sprayed down with rust inhibitor and we work on inside projects.  Like retooling this website which is on the agenda.  Assuming no plumbing failures…

Kind of the opposite of an Antarctic research outpost.  They have a cold, we have a hot…about the same time.

I will try to be a little more diligent. But at a price:  Bryce is limited to no more than 3-posts per day.  And he must include punctuation, too, or its into the punctuation penalty box.

After all, we do have our standards.

Typos?  Here?  Well, we picked up a fresh load of them just the other day for 0.06-cents a ton.  We by seconds from social media.   Hope you enjoy them.

Some wise-acre suggested we close our remarks with “Rot when you get rich,” and while it may turn out that way, we’ll stick for now with…

Write when you get rich,

34 thoughts on “Coping: With Buying By the Pound”

  1. One the phone per pound.
    1) I would think many choose lighter as better so but by Feel.
    2) Weight absorbs Heat and some of these babies get hot, especially when viewing some web sights with a lot of video content. Heat and electronics don’t always mix well at least w/o tubes.

  2. Over the years frozen pizza has been on the menu. Make sure you buy one that weighs 22 oz or more. Have some shredded cheddar cheese & frozen peppers & opinions on hand. Also, Italion Seasoning is a good addition. I buy the heavyist frozen pizza on sale, except at Aldi, they have a delicious Chicago Deep Dish pizza every now & then. So stock up when you see them. I have to be careful because my wife is fussy about what is on the pizza.

  3. The cost of nothing is why millenials and even an old coot like me are cutting the cord on cable…going off grid by using solar…utilizing the sharing economy on transportation, services and vacation housing. Airbnb is brilliant and transparent. Ever see the cost of nothing charges on a hotel bill?

    Also.. I haven’t had a land line for over 12 years. My work, play and everywhere phone is my cell phone. And while I have unlimited calling for business, that has a ton of cost of nothing charges…my kids mostly use WiFi calling to hold down their cell calling minutes. There are ways around the cost of nothing charges…you just have to work a bit harder to get them.

    Good post today!

    • I have tried to find a cable alternative, but my wife likes HGTV, Food Network, Cooking Channel, etc. & wants to watch them live & not delayed. She says I can be a cheapskate elseware. At least she doesn’t want a cell phone or tablet.

      • Cheaper to buy cable than replace the wiferly unit. Ask me how I know…go ahead…..

      • AT&T is set to soon (couple weeks or so) introduce a new plan “AT&T Watch.” It is set to be what they’re calling a skinny bundle. It won’t contain sports channels BUT IS supposed to contain a fair number of standard cable channels. Supposedly it is going to be FREE for AT&T wireless subscribers, & at a significantly reduced rate for anyone who uses AT&T for anything else. I’m thinking about giving it a try.

      • You have an ex wife. How much did that cost you. I stayed married because I didn’t want to disappoint 2 women in a lifetime.

  4. ““basic service” charges”

    I try to look for ways to remove basic services.

    As example, I have T-Mobile as my cell provider.

    I pay an extra $5.00 a month to T-mobile for tethering. T-Mobile offers ‘free’ streaming for Netflix.

    I don’t pay for cable TV or a home Internet connection. When I want to connect a computer to the Internet I tether. This makes my ISP cost only $5.00 per month.

    When I want to watch movies, I use Netflix. This doesn’t count against my “high speed” data. This makes my cable TV cost zero, though, Netflix is $11.00 a month.

  5. “reviewing comments most often during the day”

    I used to post on a different website from time to time.

    The comments from folks who pay for website access were view-able immediately.

    The comments from folks with 50+ posts were view-able immediately.

    The comments from folks with less than 50 posts had to be approved.

    Bear in mind any comments that were not up to community standard would be deleted, the poster got a warning and also risked being blocked.

    That streamlined the comments significantly. Streamlining increases hit-counts.

  6. “They will sign up for stuff and not really use it.”

    Want an exercise machine you know that even places that take donations won’t let you leave then. Lol I have said more than once put a hanger bar on them because they usually end up in a junk room or somewhere where you can hang clothes on them.
    Instead go to a gym. One that doesn’t require a yearly contract.per use fee.
    By the pound.. Canned goods..right now they are limiting product reduced the can size to twelve ounces instead of sixteen and pack it light with more water. You’ll get more product buying dried or frozen.

    • If you’re not a metalworker and need to get rid of metal, a scrapyard will take it and give you a few cents a pound. I wait until I have a truck or trailer full and then call around for prices.

  7. George,
    Was in our small town store to get some eggs and an older (depression erra) gent pointed out the price of the X-large eggs was cheaper than the Large eggs. On the hand scale they were about twice the weight too. Two eggs in pan verses 3 and save a little also. The price of eggs at our small store is up about a buck.

    • An egg sandwich is one of the cheapest meals. Twenty cents for the egg, basically twenty five cents for the bread a nickel for butter etc. around sixty five cents. Pound for pound a bargain

      • My Sicilian gramma and her 5 sisters worked at a stocking factory in the 1920s. They would bring their fried potatoe and scrambled egg lunch sandwich to work everyday. Theyd wrap it in waxed paper and save the paper for the next waste…sometimes theyd do green peppers and eggs…they all retired with a very nice nest egg..for people who quit school at 7th grade…some earlier. As a little boy, my gramma would fry me potatoes scrambled with eggs…still a great meal and nice memories. I had the best grandparents.

  8. My cable provider (Frontier) charges a $5 fee to send a bill in the mail. Complained to the state (CA) PUC and they said sorry, we don’t regulate cable, you’ll need to call the FCC. Yeah, right.

  9. “…readers wondered why I wasn’t reviewing comments most often during the day.”

    Here are my views about profitable trading:
    A) You have to know what you’re doing, (and few do! ;-(). B) You need the discipline to follow thru with your strategy. C) You must not read material related to the stock market while you’re ‘seriously trading.’ However, who wants to live like that? I enjoy reading stuff, perhaps George does?!

  10. George
    I wasn’t going to comment but the more I thought about your water bill the more I became concerned.
    You and yours live out in the Bonnies but don’t have a Well??
    That a critical piece of infrastructure for any long term survival situation if every thing goes to hell.
    I have a well and a natural pond. A last ditch senario would have me getting water from the pond and running it through a sand filter then my Big Berky plus adding a tad of clorox.

    I sincerely hope you have a Plan!

    • We not only have A well, but we also have all the pieces to punch in a second well. It’s a hydrajet drilling system with bottom pipe and all. Was going to trade it off to Oilman 2 (with his son to do some labor) to put in a radio ground (down 40 feet of copper pipe) and a second water well…then he’ll get the rig and pump.
      Except he’s busy, God knows we are, and we’ll get to it by and by.
      The one well is not used for domestic water because the local water from the big supplier (deeper wells) tastes better.
      We also have 200 in plastic barrels and…oh yes, then there are water tank and toiler reservoirs…
      but got that one covered…

      • There’s always an air well.. In the southwestern outback from what I remember its hotter than Hades during the summer. Prime spot for an air well..

    • Use “pool shock” instead of Clorox. It is food-grade, and double the strength, and often costs less…

  11. Rot when YGR. Sounds like a wealthy liberal. Every notice how wealthy liberals play down their wealth & pretend to care about the little people because they are just Like them (except for the heated pool).

  12. Oh, please don’t limit Bryce, he’s pure unadulturated entertainment with a heaping of wisdom thrown in. I’m actually accustomed to reading his postings without punctuation! Same with Looking Out of His Box; gotta keep em coming boys and girls! That generation are survivors! This blog needs their experience!!! I vote keep em!

  13. “half a million to 750k – thanks for reminding me, lol”

    Funny thing.. I just turned down a figure considerably higher than that.
    They wanted me to take it.. a one time gift. As long as I pay any medical expenses or care they may need such as nursing home care etc.
    Not to mention there’s six siblings..
    most people don’t realize you final expenses unless you die first will be several times that amount. Not even considering family battles. I don’t want that headache.

  14. Price per pound (or other convenient units of weight) only really matters with bulk items like food. Cars, phones, PCs, and radios, all are sold for their function, and they weigh whatever they have to weigh. I only really care about the weight for kit that has to come along when travelling, then less is better. Stationary things can be heavier, at least up to the point that they become difficult to lift or move around. So I mostly just joke about the low price per weight when buying some boat-anchor at a flea-market…

    • I think you’re missing the point: In the age of Mass Manufacturing, everything is a commodity!

  15. My pet peeve is with forced services(political term). Every house with gas service requires a fee of almost $30.00/month before using anything, and if you don’t have gas on for 6 months or more, you need a merc. test and inspection. Similar for electric now, but that’s about $22.00/month. Garbage is around $20.00 for any occupied house, so that’s $72.00 for nothing useful. If you’re invested in real estate, multiply that times how many properties you own, and that’s a significant cost. Going fully off grid can help, but getting back on may kill any savings.

    I’m sure the utility companies are aware of that. You still have to pay additional for actual consumption. At least I don’t have to worry about cable, there isn’t any.

    • I forgot to mention that the tests and inspections have to be done by a licensed person or company. The utility won’t do them. That leaves the door open to all kinds of forced add-ons due to the “inspections” for “your safety”(their reduced liability).

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