Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Monday, June 15, 2009


Don't look at the number of rolls, or the number of sheets, or the size—
just hone in on the square feet total area.
(1419 square feet for this package)

I'm always on the lookout for bargains, and when I find one I buy as much as I can afford. Toilet paper stores for years, so this is one item I like to stash in my garage rafters. Nobody likes to run out of toilet paper!

It is amazing how widely the price of toilet paper varies, and it doesn't always have a lot to do with quality. I always felt like I was shooting in the dark when I bought toilet paper, until we figured out a way to determine a comparison price quickly, without a caluclator!

To figure out the best price: just look at the total number of square feet in the package and move the decimal place up 2 spaces. So, if the package says "total area 1419 square feet", mentally move the decimal place up 2 spaces to 14.19 and add the dollar sign = $14.19. A great price for toilet paper is .01 per square foot of toilet paper. So, $14.19 is the price this package (above) would be if it was .01 cent per square foot.

Now, compare the price of the toilet paper to the number you calculated in your head. If the sale price on this toilet paper was $14.19, it would be a nice bargain (at .01 cents per square foot). In this case, the price was even lower: just $9.99, so I got a real deal, and I bought a lot!

One ply or 2 ply? It doesn't matter, as ultimately you use about the same square footage at each application. (Did I say that delicately enough?) With 1 ply, you just have to unroll more and double it up, but you still use basically the same amount.

Need another practice problem?

Well, I just got home from shopping and I saw a pack of toilet paper on sale at the grocery store on a big end cap with a sign that said, "WOW! SALE! $8.88". That caught my eye, so I took a quick glance at the total square feet in the package. To qualify as a good sale, the package would have to contain 888 square feet (or .01 cent per square feet). Don't pay any attention to the other numbers (sheets, size, etc.). The package stated that there was just 651 square feet total area. No matter the "wow, sale" sign, it wasn't a wow deal. At just 651 square feet, it would have had to be priced at less than $6.51 to be a good buy.

Once you get the hang of it, you'll be surprised at how wildly erratic the pricing on toilet paper is. Maybe it is because consumers can't figure it out easily and just buy whatever looks like a deal, so they can take wide leeway. Even the little shelf label tags that figure it out for you at some grocery stores don't seem to help, as they often calculate the price per roll—but every roll is different!

Now that you know an easy way to make sense of the price, save some money and stock up!

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  • At June 15, 2009 at 9:35 PM , Blogger Jessica G said...

    I love this post. How great, I never thought of doing the math for toilet paper. I'm addicted to coupons so now I think I can work out better coupon deals for toilet paper with the math per sq foot. Very cool. Thanks for sharing.


  • At June 16, 2009 at 12:50 PM , Blogger Lisa said...


    I am so excited about this post! I have been mulling over t.p. and trying to figure out how to get the best deal. And, here in Utah it is soooo much more expensive than other places I have lived. I can't wait to check out your theory. I'm just glad I don't have a lot of girls. Yikes!


  • At June 16, 2009 at 12:52 PM , Blogger Lisa said...


    Yeah! Thank you sooo much! Finally a way to cut through all the mumbo jumbo. T.P. here in Utah is sooo expensive. I can't wait to test this out!

    Lisa (who's glad she has lots of boys instead of girls when it comes to t.p.)

  • At June 16, 2009 at 3:05 PM , Blogger Wendy said...

    What inspiration! Thanks for sharing.

  • At June 17, 2009 at 8:46 AM , Blogger Lafingkids said...

    Thanks for the post. Anything to simplify the great tp mystery :)

  • At June 18, 2009 at 7:15 AM , Blogger Danielle said...

    I tried this out yesterday at the bent and dent store. None of their toilet paper was a bargin! Hmmm, very interesting...thanks for sharing!

  • At June 22, 2009 at 9:47 PM , Blogger Nikki said...

    This looks great.. I just have one question: do we know for sure that the total square footage is applied to both plies in a 2-ply roll, or is it simply the square footage of the toilet paper, regardless of 1, 2, or 3-ply toilet paper?

  • At June 27, 2009 at 9:13 AM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    Right— it doesn't matter the ply count, the number is the total square footage of all the toilet paper in that package.

    Some people wrote me saying that they couldn't find anything priced as low as .01 cent per square foot. I guess out west things are sold in bigger bulk packages and maybe are cheaper? Well, no matter what the prices are, you can still use the formula to price compare, if you know what the package would cost at .01 per square foot (by moving the decimal as I explained), then you can decide between the packages which one is the lowest price.

    I always feel empowered when I buy toilet paper (napkins, paper towels—it applies to all paper goods), like I am in on their secret. It was always so hard to figure out which one was priced best before!

  • At July 1, 2009 at 11:26 AM , Blogger Gregory said...

    You just made my life easier! :)


  • At July 1, 2009 at 11:28 AM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    So glad!!

  • At July 3, 2009 at 8:03 PM , Blogger FrugalinLA said...

    You are a genius!
    I can't wait to head to the store and find the "real" bargains on TP.

  • At July 3, 2009 at 9:28 PM , Blogger mommy2austin said...

    wow~ how amazingly simple! My head used to spin comparing them all before!! thank you :)

  • At July 3, 2009 at 9:42 PM , Blogger Amy @ Finer Things said...

    Can't wait to test this out on my next shopping trip. Thanks!

  • At July 3, 2009 at 11:02 PM , Blogger Milehimama said...

    I came here from Grocery Cart Challenge, and found out I'm getting a killer deal on TP! I buy Scott 1000 rolls, $6.99 for 1500 sq. ft.

    I originally started buying them, though, because I was tired of changing the roll twice a day - I'm lazy and frugal, I guess!

  • At July 4, 2009 at 5:24 AM , Blogger Kathy said...

    This is great! I have been mystified by TP pricing for a while now and I finally have a way to figure up a deal! Thanks!!


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