Make A Price Book: Power Tool For Supermarket Savings!
Frugality: a noble value. Trouble is, if you've got a disorganized nature, the frugal life can seem daunting. How do tightwad friends remember all those prices, bargains, shopping bonanzas? Is the warehouse mega-pack a true bargain? When is a sale a sale?
Fight back with a powerful weapon from the frugal arsenal: the price book. First publicized by Amy Dacyczyn, author of [amazon 0375752250 inline], a price book is a power tool for tracking prices, products and sales.
Keeping a price book recording price variations over time--and between different merchants--establishes a target price and sets out sales cycles for products you buy regularly.
By knowing that your target price for salad dressing is $1.19, and that the sales cycle is 8 weeks long, you'll be prepared to stock up when prices are low--and rely on the pantry until the next sale, two months later.
Form Follows Function
What do you use to create a price book? Form is unimportant. Low-tech tightwads use a small binder or spiral notebook to track price book information. Planner aficionados devote a tabbed section to price book pages. [Find a free printable price book template here.]
The hi-tech housewife enters price book data in a computer spreadsheet (and the alpha geek downloads spreadsheet data to a smart phone for quick in-store consultation).
Paging Best Buys!
Whatever the form, the heart of the price book is the product page. Each page tracks price information for a single staple product. Down the page, you'll list the date, store, brand, size and price, and unit price for that product. Over time, you'll be able to identify the best regular price, recognize special sales, and track sale cycles for that product.
Here's a sample product page:
Our shopper can buy 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce for a regular supermarket price of 32 cents. Her warehouse store sells bulk cans of tomato sauce for a sharply lower unit price. However, the best buy occurs when the supermarket puts 8-ounce cans on sale at 10 for $1.
Armed with the price book analysis, our shopper has learned to stock up on 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce during supermarket sales. By continuing to track the price of tomato sauce, she can learn the sale cycle: how often to expect those 10/$1 deals to occur. In her area, that's about every 6 weeks--so she'll purchase enough on sale to cover her family's needs until the next sale.
Setting Up and Using Your Price Book
You're sold on the concept of a price book. You know it will save money, trim time and lighten shopping stress.
Now for the fun! Follow these tips to set up and use your new price book.
Digging For Data
You've found a small notebook or printed our price book template. Next step: gather and record your data.
Itemized grocery store receipts are a price book's best friend. On them, you'll find identified and itemized lists of products you buy and use. Jumpstart your price book by recording data from every receipt you can find.
For brevity, develop a list of store codes. Use a short abbreviation for each supermarket, discount store and warehouse store you patronize.
Keep a calculator handy for unit price calculations! To find any item's unit price, divide the cost of the item by the number of units. For an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce sold for $.32, enter .32, then divide by 8 to find the unit price of $.04.
If you're making price book entries at the supermarket, you can often find the unit price calculated on the shelf tag. Spreadsheet users can short-cut the calculation process by breaking out the price and size on the spreadsheet.
On The Firing Line
You've scrounged for receipts, entered your data, and now it's time to shop. Like good wine, a price book's value increases with age. At first, you'll be filling in initial entries for many, many product pages--but as time passes, the price book's growth will give you a clear view of the sales cycle.