Have you ever wondered how to save money every time you shop? Have you ever wondered when you shop at Sam’s Club or Costco if buying in bulk really saved you money? Have you ever wondered if you should stock up when you see your favorite laundry detergent marked down at Target? How about when you are shopping and find steaks marked down but they still seem really expensive…is that a good deal?
I have been on a mission lately about saving money on groceries and staying within my budget. I’ve been a frugal minded person for a long time and have read many books, blogs, and websites about saving money but there’s been one project I’ve been putting off for YEARS because I didn’t want to go to the work of doing it. Well friends, that procrastination is no longer going to prevent me from saving money and staying within my budget. Today, I have decided that it’s time to tackle the project of creating a price book!
Have you ever heard of a price book, price diary, or price notebook? A price book is a reference point for you to go to when you see the infamous Target end cap loaded with shampoo on clearance. You can pull out your price book, look up shampoo and there is the amount that you have filled in of what you normally pay for shampoo. You now know whether or not you want to buy that clearanced shampoo (and if you do if you want to buy a bottle or two to get you to the next sale or if it’s the best sale you’ve ever seen and want to buy every bottle on the shelf!)
Your price book, when utilized, can save you hundreds of dollars over the year by avoiding higher prices and by buying your items when the price is very low. It also helps track the sale cycles of your local stores. Usually the stores cycle their sale items every 6-8 weeks.
If you wait until you’re out of toilet paper to buy more, you probably aren’t going to get the lowest price because you are at the mercy of whatever price it currently is being offered at. However, if you know your target price for toilet paper is less than $.40 per double roll, you can stock up when those sales occur for the next 2 months until it will go on sale again.
To make your own price book you will need:
- A notebook, spreadsheet, note cards, or binder. The design seems to be a major hang up for people and honestly, as long as it works for you, the design doesn’t matter! Be sure that it can fit in your purse or planner so you can take it with you or be able to access it on your phone. If you don’t have the information with you, all the time you have put into creating the price book will be useless. (I know there are apps available for iphone and android but at this point I haven’t found one that offers everything I want in a price book. If you are interested in apps get on iTunes or Google Play and do a quick search!)
- Next, glance through your refrigerator, cupboards, freezer and pantry. Make a quick list of what food or products you use and buy regularly. Don’t forget cleaners, and bathroom items such as shampoo, toothpaste, and toilet paper!
- Organize your list by topic such as cleaning supplies, vegetables, and beverages or alphabetically or by the aisles of your favorite store. I am going to be grouping mine by topic. There is no right or wrong way to do this as long as you can find the items you are looking for when you do a search.
- Put your list into the price book using pencil. Make sure you give yourself plenty of room!
- Write down the lowest price you have found for the item. An easy place to start is to grab the receipts you have from previous shopping trips. When you find a lower price, erase the previous price and put the new price in your book, updating the information. The lowest price is used as a tool when you are looking through the ads to verify if the item on sale is a good price or a stock up price. It could also be an everyday price that looks like it’s on sale and unless you are out of the item, you would not purchase it until it is on sale again.
- Compare all of the stores where you shop. Each store is not the same! For example, when I’m looking to buy milk, I always look to see if it is on sale at Walgreen’s. In my area, Walgreen’s frequently has milk on sale for under $3. No grocery stores in my area have milk under $3 regularly. If I can find milk on sale for $2.69 I know it’s a great deal and I should buy as many as we can use.
Do you use a price book? Would you like me to create a printable for you to download as a template?