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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