Saturday, September 26, 2020

Comparison Shopping with a Price Book?

Have you ever looked at the cost of an item on the grocery or drugstore shelf and wondered if you could find the item at a different store even cheaper?

If so you have just applied the concept of a price book. Amy Dacyczyn believed in the value of a price book. You can read a letter from her regarding saving money on your food bill where she also mentions price books here.

Amy who wrote The Tightwad Gazette, wondered if "the various sizes and brands was part of a huge conspiracy to confuse consumers?"  She says the keeping of a price book "revolutionized our shopping strategy more than anything else we did". 

If you don't know what a price book is, it's a frugal tool that people have used for years to purchase items at the lowest possible price. It is also how some frugal people build up their stock pile. When I find a good deal, I buy enough to get me through until the next sale, which is usually twelve weeks, although I usually buy them in quantities of ten. 

This week Food City has canned salmon on sale for $1.99 per can. I already have two cans of salmon in my pantry and we have this item for dinner about once a month, so I bought two more cans, which is enough to last the rest of the year. During that time I'm sure it will go on sale again and I can stock up again.  

A price book is related to the concept of watching the sales, but takes that tactic a step further. Some people use their price book to track actual retail prices of specific items on a week to week basis. Some people do not go that far into the details, but either way will work and I would use the one that you know you will do and works for you. 

Image Credit: The Tightwad Gazette

In a price book each page will contain prices for one item like the photo above. The pages of items will be in alphabetical order for quick reference. Amy includes her code for the name of each store, the brand, the size of the item, and the unit price. Doing this really gave Amy a feeling of control over her food budget. 

Some people today may consider a price book to be archaic. With a computer or smartphone these days people can go online and find the lowest price while staying at home. Or, if you are standing in a store it's easy enough to check the price of the same item in another store if you have your smart phone with you. 

Recently I needed to purchase Ibuprofen. I simply went online and compared the price of each bottle at Walmart and Amazon. I checked these two merchants because I can get free shipping with them. 

1,000 Ibuprofen at Walmart $13.98

As you can tell here, Walmart had the best deal on the Ibuprofen the day I checked. That might not always be the case though. It pays to check before making a purchase. 

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, my price book consisted of all the items I bought and the price I paid on a Word document. It was easy enough to change the prices as needed or check a price and I could easily print it out as it was only one page. 

If you'd like to read how Trent over at The Simple Dollar dos his price book, you can read about that here

Whatever system you use this is one frugal tool that will help you save money on your food bill. 

~ Living within our Means ~
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  1. Oh, no! Not me. I never forget anything and am so smart I have all this stored away in my head and can easily retrieve it anytime I want!

    I was telling Tommy just yesterday that I needed to make a price book and explained what that was. Now, I just need to do it to save money. My memory is not as stellar as it once Thanks for the reminder to make a price book.

    1. You’re welcome. It’s such a great way to save money.

  2. I don't have a price book but I certainly know where to go for what.

    1. That’s great, Kim. We all have a system that works for us. :)

  3. I learned so many things when I was just starting out from those books-mostly that bulk shopping means something different when you are trying to get the best prices. I never really mastered it, but we still will stock up on super low prices on item we know we will use.

    1. That is so great, Sam. I remember the time I found salmon at our local store for 50 cents a can, I bought 50 cans! It was a price I have never seen again.

  4. How appropriate! lol I literally was just looking up who had the best price on Ibuprofen. I am so grateful for online store sites so that I can do price checks. Ditto for the smart phones allowing the same.

    1. How neat, Terri. I’m so grateful for online store price checks and smart phones too.

  5. Several years ago I tried keeping a price book, but it didn't last long. :)
    I do compare prices though, especially when buying things online.

    1. I think it takes a big commitment to keep a price book going. More often than not, I would let mine slide. Online price comparing is so much easier.

  6. I always think about starting a price book, but never do. Shopping the sales is the only way to go and we are very lucky that all the stores here in my city have flyers so I can compare prices in the comfort of my home. I probably do miss a few things though.

    God bless.

    1. That is so great, Jackie. I used to have to pay for the paper to get the sale ads and we still do except now I just check them out online. I think we all miss out on some things we would like to get in on. I know I am missing the clearance/dented can section and probably missing out on some great deals. It is what it is though. Hopefully coronavirus will end soon and we can get back to it.


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