Like any good budgeter, you want to save money on groceries. And why wouldn’t you? Groceries are a necessity that can really add up if not watched carefully.
So you clip coupons, watch sales and compare prices. But grocery price book will ensure that you always pay the lowest price. A price book is your one-income, money-saving power tool that will help you organize what you spend the most on. It will help you watch and learn sale cycles, and discover which store has the lowest price for each item you by. Is it magic? No, but it is amazing!
- Get a 3-ring binder. Or a spiral notebook. Or a spreadsheet. Whichever your recording method of choice is. I personally use a Google doc spreadsheet. I can access it on my home computer and on my phone if I need to check or log something in it.
- Create your pages. This is the heart of your grocery price book. It is where all the magic happens. Okay, maybe not; but it is where you will be tracking your prices. Think of the items you buy most. Create a page for each item with columns for the date, store, brand, size, price and price per unit.
- Organize. This is where I’ve seen different versions of price books. Some organize by categories like canned good, frozen, meat and so forth. Since I use Google Docs, I actually have 2 spreadsheets: one for groceries and one for toiletries. Each separate item has its own tab on its respective spreadsheet. Choose whatever method makes the most sense to you.
- Go through old receipts. Using your old receipts, start recording prices. I’m going to assume that most items you purchased were on sale, so your receipts will give you a good idea of the pattern of sales. If you can, make a note whether the item was on sale or not. You will want to record prices for all the places you shop: drug stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, bulk warehouses.
- Bring your price book with you. The next time you go shopping, bring along you price book so you can fill in more prices. Having a thorough record of how much items cost at each store, and also regular prices versus sale prices, will allow you to determine your cheapest option. You should also bring your book for regular shopping trips in case you come across an in-store special. A quick price book check will tell you if the special price is lower than your recorded lowest price and if you should stalk up.
As requested, here is a screenshot of my spreadsheet. It’s not complete, but will give you a good idea of how simple the price book can be. Notice at the bottom there are different tabs. Each item has it’s own tab so I can compare prices for each item easily. I have the date listed (helpful when watching rotating sales), store name (if the item is one sale, I’ll list it as “CVS-sale”), brand, price, size and price per unit since the size can vary. To find the per unit price, I used this equation (price)/(size)=(unit price).
I have the cheapest option highlighted so I can easily find it. So, say I’m shopping at another store and notice mayo on sale. I can check my spreadsheet (I use the Google Drive app) to see if it’s lower than my lowest price. If it is, I’ll add it to my spreadsheet so I can track it, and buy a bunch.
If you prefer the binder method, you can create your own sheet or print out a template. I like the simplicity of this one.
A price book is a way to ensure that you will always pay the lowest price possible. Armed with a price book and coupons, you can stand to save a ton of money each shopping trip.
Do you use a price book? If so, please leave a comment and share how you set yours up.