Sep 28 2007

How a price book will save the day…or at least save you money


I mentioned a nifty thing called a price book in an earlier post. The idea comes directly from The Tightwad Gazette, and I’ve seen it mentioned in other frugal hotspots, as well. This thing is brilliant.

How can you be sure you’re paying the lowest price possible on a particular item? You have no way of knowing unless you have data to back it up. So, you keep track of each item you regularly buy, and the lowest price you’ve seen it at several stores.

Shopping at just one store will not save you money. I used to shop only at the Giant Eagle down the street, until I realized that they aren’t always the cheapest. This week, I didn’t go there at all.

The price book doesn’t take that much effort to put it together, and you can build it gradually. Start with weekly sales fliers for several stores and write down those prices. Include what store it is, the brand name of the item, cost and size, and then break it down to cost per ounce, pound, each … whatever makes sense.
Take a look at my example page. I had no idea what the lowest price for apples was until I started keeping track. At Shop ‘n Save one week, Gala apples were $1.39/lb. Sounds good, right?

But, the next week, I was able to find them for $1/lb. at Kuhn’s, .83/lb. at Giant Eagle, and a fantastic .66/lb. at Shop ‘n Save.

So, I picked up a bag of apples when I was there this week. Saved me $1 than if I bought them at Kuhn’s. I might start writing the date next to the price as well, so I can figure out how often it hits that price. I don’t know if I’ll be able to find them that cheap in the cold of winter. We’ll see.

And, if peanut butter only goes on a super sale every 3 months, I’ll know to stock up and buy a 3-month supply at that time. Makes sense, ya know?

For items not listed in the weekly circular, just keep your eye out for them when you hit the aisles. Write the price down on your shopping list and update your book later. The point is to make the system work for you to help you save money. Make it how ever you want.

I found the little binder at a Meijer store with index cards already in it. I like the binder because I can move cards around and add more, but any sort of system should be fine.

Your turn! Do you have a price book? What’s your method for finding the lowest prices?

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Posted under Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “How a price book will save the day…or at least save you money”

  1. Love the 3×5 card idea! I have a price book, divided into sections for groceries, household, and baby items. Definitely include the date you paid that price…over time you’ll learn so much about seasonal sales and availability. I have a handle on what a good price is for most groceries, so the household price book is the one I update the most…when you only buy dishtabs or toilet paper once a month, it’s hard to remember what a good price is. The baby price book is invaluable…with all the sizes of bags and boxes, the price per unit is the most important entry.

  2. Hi! I live in Pittsburgh too! I am an old woman compared to you though… I am 36 with two little boys who are 7 and 9. Anyway, if you want someone to talk to just email me! I can tell you lots about this area. Jen :)

  3. Hi SAHMmy-Glad to hear your system is working for you! I can only imagine how nuts it must be to compare baby costs.

    And hello, mommy3act! Thanks for stopping by. Maybe you can give me suggestions on other stores around here, as well as ideas for free entertainment. I’ll e-mail ya soon!

  4. That’s a great idea for keeping track of prices. I don’t get the coupons and sales fliers because I don’t get the paper, but I’ll look into getting them online.

  5. I am in the process of making one of these right now!!

    Thanks for sharing this great idea with everyone!

  6. I keep starting to write down various prices but then I loose track of them or they are not in a book like yours are. That’s a good idea actually. Part of the problem is that prices change all the time, and we don’t always get the flyers in our mailbox (or when we do sometimes they aren’t on time, like 2/3 days after the sale starts and by the time we get to the store the sale item is gone)

    But like you, I do shop at more than one store. This might help!

  7. I just started a little journal type notebook, that i got at the dollar store, and i can easily keep it in my purse, so it is with me all the time. Im starting this week.

  8. Carey-

    That’s great! Keep it simple and make sure it works for you. Can’t wait to hear how it goes in the long run. Thanks for letting me know!

  9. I am new to your site-came over here via home ec 101. I have been wanting to start one of these books, but wasn’t sure just how to go about it. Thanks for sharing your ideas :)

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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