I was watching the news this evening. As they went to a commercial break, the teaser for the story after the break was about how your kid’s lunch might cost less this fall. My boys are all past school age these days, but I am an accountant and I like to eat, so I wanted to hear this story.
So I waited through the commercial break, here is the big news, you might want to sit down for this, the cost of a jar of peanut butter is down 3.8% from the same time a year ago! I imagine you are almost as excited as I was at this news. Wait there is more, jelly is also down 0.7% from the last year and white bread is down 2.8% from last year. Now I do enjoy the occasional PB&J (grilled sometimes, but I covered that in an earlier blog) and I do like to save money, but I found myself asking the question, “so, what does that really mean?”
Being an accountant, I had to try to quantify this information. First I consulted my wonderful wife who has a degree in home economics. Here are some rule of thumb numbers she provided, they are not exact, but will prove a point. Let’s make the following assumptions: 1) a jar of peanut butter currently costs about $3 and will provide a dozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, 2) a jar of jelly currently costs $3 and will provide for 18 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and 3) a loaf of white sandwich bread costs $2 and will provide for a dozen sandwiches.
The same story also goes onto say that the average child will eat 1,500 sandwiches before graduating from high school. If we assume the child begins eating PB&J sandwiches in kindergarten, then he or she would eat approximately 115 sandwiches a year for 13 years.
So, now comes the fun part, well for a nerdy accountant like me, the fun part. First we take 115 (the number of PB&J sandwhiches a child will eat over the course of the next year) and divide by how many sandwiches a jar/ loaf will produce and we estimate that we will need 9.58 jars of peanut butter, 6.39 jars of jelly and 9.58 loaves of bread. Next we take the current price of each item, divide by 1 less the decrease over the last twelve months to arrive at the price last year, then we subtract this year’s price from last year’s price to determine the price difference and then we multiple the price difference by the number needed for each item (yes I used a spreadsheet and yes have been told that I am a nerd – often by the aforementioned home economics major).
The final result of this calculation tells me that, given current prices compared to prices last year, for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches eaten by a child over the course of the coming twelve months, I can expect to save $1.70. Yes one dollar and seventy cents!! The next problem will be deciding how to invest this exorbitant windfall!
And I waited through a commercial break for this! The economy may still be in the dumps, I may be paying an arm and a leg for gas, the Middle East is a powder keg, but no worries, the average person can save $1.70 the next year on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or about a cent and a half per sandwich.
I feel so much better, don’t you?