Smart shoppers rely on a price book to help them save money. With a quick glance in their price book, they know whether or not a good deal is truly a good deal. Is that warehouse purchase the best price? How about the clearance items on the end cap? Smart shoppers also know the best times to buy seasonal items like fruit, vegetables, and holiday items thanks to their price book.
What is a Price Book?
A price book is your ongoing record of the lowest prices for items your family uses. Food will make up 90% of the information in the price book. Don’t forget to include other items your family buys on a regular basis like shampoo, toothpaste, dog food, cat food and contact solution. Even prescriptions and eyeglasses can go in a price book if the information helps you save money on your budget.
My personal preference is NOT to include the price of clearanced items in my price book. I can’t guarantee I’ll find that item on clearance again, though it would be great. I also don’t include the coupon savings since again, I may not have a coupon the next time. My price book reflects the lowest price without using coupons.
How to Organize Your Price Book
Most shoppers use a notebook to track grocery store prices of items their family uses. Organized alphabetically or by sections of the grocery store, each price book entry lists the item, the store, the lowest price, and the date. Leave space after each item to update the entry since some items may increase in price over time.
Other shoppers have gone digital with a spreadsheet on their home computer or carried on their smartphone or tablet. There are apps available for the Android and iPhone for tracking prices if that’s your preferred method.
I organized my price book alphabetically. I find it much easier to locate items quickly in the store when using the alphabetical method. Otherwise, I have to take an extra step to remember which item I would put a category in. If I gave the price book to my husband, he would have no idea where to find items if the book was organized by categories.
Maximize Your Time
When I first started making price book after reading The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn, I used the strategy of going to several different stores each week to to do my grocery price comparison and purchasing. However, with many of us cutting back on driving to save on gas, that strategy might not work.
Moms bringing kids along also have a tough time getting started on a price book. It’s hard enough to remember everything on the list and keep the kids occupied, and then add in looking for prices of items for your price book project at multiple stores.
Start with your weekly or biweekly shopping list. After you get home from the store, use the information on your receipt to start your price book. If you still have the last few months of receipts which will, of course, show what you like to buy for your family, grab those, too.
Most stores will note the price per pound of produce on a receipt. If not, just make a quick note on your shopping list the next time you’re at the store. Skip looking at the unit price stickers at the store which are often confusing, and stick to price per pound and price per ounce (liquid measure). If the receipt doesn’t list the size of the box or bag, find it in your pantry and do the math.
Include All Your Shopping Places
If you’re a diehard Amazon Prime shopper with monthly shipments of Subscribe and Save items, include those in your price book. Don’t let your online grocery shopping run by itself. Include those prices in your price book to ensure you get the best deal everywhere you shop.
Do You Use a Price Book for Food Shopping?