Price book

This is a big part of a savings strategy in grocery shopping. It’s a small notebook where you can track prices on the items you buy most. You can compare prices at more than one store, or just track products at your favorite store. The idea is to devote a page to each product and record the price weekly for 6 to 12 weeks. That will give you an idea of the sales cycles and what the lowest price truly is. It seems like a really long time, but it’ll be worth it when you stop buying groceries at full price.

I’d choose about 20 products that you buy most often and track those at first.  Record the size of the portion and the price, and obviously which store it’s from. When you get home (or at the store if you have time), figure out the unit price. That’s price per ounce or pound (or gram and kilogram) or can of soda or whatever. You can use serving sizes if you’d like for price per serving. I’d look at different sizes of the same product because the largest size isn’t always the best deal. Many stores put unit pricing right on the shelf sticker now. That is extremely helpful.

For anything  that you are not terribly brand loyal about, be sure to check out the store brand which is usually cheaper.

Here’s the thing. You’re going to need to bring your calculator to the store with you if you use coupons. Sometimes the price for a name brand product is less with a coupon than the store brand or cheapest in your book. Sometimes not. It pays to figure it out. Especially if you are stacking sales and coupons. It may seem like only a few cents here and there, but it can really add up at the register if you are consistent.

The price book will also help you figure out if a product is just on sale or if it’s on a stock up sale where you need to buy as many as you can at this cheapest possible price.

With a little up front investment in time, shopping may never be the same. You’ll begin to build a stockpile of goods on sale that will at least last you until the next sale because you know how often the product goes on sale. As you go on, you can add more products to your book and truly save on everything you buy.

One last note, be sure to update your book every once in a while. Prices change from year to year so you may want to update your book with the new sale prices yearly. And don’t forget about non-traditional places to buy groceries like discount bakeries, scratch and dent or overstock stores, discount department stores like Target and Walmart most of which have at least some groceries, and warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club. Or, just track prices at your favorite supermarket so you know the sales cycles and can anticipate good sales and when you can use coupons if you decide to.

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