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The Price Book

Article by: Kim Tilley
Dated: May 26, 2006

The Price BookThis is my favorite tightwad tool, and so simple! Here is what you need:
One 3-ring binder
Loose-leaf paper
Some time to do this

1. Start by listing all of the groceries you buy on a sheet (or two or three) of paper. Don't list things you occasionally buy, list things you always buy, especially staples, such as bread, milk, eggs, flour, etc.

2. Next, take a whole bunch of paper, and label the top right hand corner of each sheet with the name of one item you buy. The reason it is on the right hand side is for quick reference.

3. Now put the following headings on each page as follows:

Date Store Item Size Price Unit Price Sale
11/98 Kroger whole chickens 1 lb. 39 cents .39/lb *
6/99 Walmart ground beef 1 lb 79 cents .79/lb *
6/99 Aldi flour 5 lb 69 cents 15.8 c/lb
12/98 Kroger milk-store brand 1 gal 99 cents .99/gallon *
6/99 Aldi milk 1 gal 1.69 1.69/gallon *
6/99 Kroger milk-store brand 1 gal 2.69 2.69/gallon
6/99 Kroger milk-Prairie Farms 1 gal 3.49 3.49/gallon

4. Arrange each page in alphabetical order for easy reference. If you have too many pages, you can arrange them by food group, but I prefer alphabetically.

To use: Each time you shop, save your receipts and then enter the prices of the items you buy. You may also want to copy prices out of store ads and add "normal" off-sale prices for reference. Make sure to note the date and whether the item was on sale (I just make a star in this column). Even if it is a pain, always calculate the unit price! This is very important, since groceries can be packaged in a dizzying array of sizes. The unit price is the only way you can measure them all up and see what is really a value, and what is just a trick.

Remember: How often you use your price book is up to you. It is a valuable tool for tracking sales and making sure you got a good deal. I have found that I have learned the "best prices" for most items I buy, and I note them at the top of the each page. That way, if I forget, I have a quick reference.

Have fun and happy shopping!

To download, RIGHT click on this link and select SAVE AS and save this Pricebook Worksheet on your desktop or in My Documents.

About the Author

Kim Tilley, a tightwad at heart, is a wife, a mother of three active boys and the founding editor of Frugal by force and later by choice, Kim cut her income by 60% to stay at home with her children and discovered that anyone can live better for less. Her work has appeared in print publications such as The Tightwad Gazette. In her free time, she entertains herself by chasing kids and finding ways to create something from nothing!
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