Last week I shared a super simple way to create a price book. It takes no more than 15 minutes each week, but it does rely on your keeping up with it. Unfortunately, the price book doesn’t create itself.
No doubt, some of you are skeptical, wondering if a few pages of torn notebook paper stapled together haphazardly are worth the effort in the first place. You might be wondering if they’re worth it in the long run.
So let’s talk about it. I’ve crunched the numbers and share whether a price book saves money. I’ll warn you though – you should sit down for this. The answer just might surprise you.
This post is part of an ongoing experiment to see if random money-saving techniques really work. I collect ideas via this board on Pinterest, to which you’re welcome to join and pin to as well! Follow me, then leave a comment on that board requesting to be a pinner and I’ll add you within a day or two. Previous experiments include:
- phantom power – do appliances really use energy, and cost money, even when turned off?
- cutting the ends off of toothpaste, which resulted in a 60% cheaper copycat Earthpaste recipe
- buying healthy food from the dollar store, and you absolutely can, but it also made us re-think about where our food comes from
- displacing water in a toilet, which surprisingly saved 15% on our water bill!
The premise behind a price book is that you record the prices of the items you buy most often, identify where you can find the best deal and change your shopping habits so that you’re getting the best price you can.
It seems silly really, that a few pieces of paper will save you money. People thought the same thing about coupons too. That is, until the show Extreme Couponing hit cable TV. Then those who scoffed at the tiny 25¢ coupons and turned their noses up at the people who used them saw how much money could be saved by using them diligently.
A price book is no different. True, it’s a much less extreme way to save money, but I’m sure an excuse or two has found itself meandering around in your brain, tempting you with one reason or another why you shouldn’t do it. Do any of these sound familiar?
You can remember what you paid and don’t need to write it down.
Maybe you can. But for how long? How many items? Can you remember what you paid for a can of pinto beans a year ago? Points to you if you have an elephant memory, but you’re the minority. Most of us can’t remember what we paid for the beans, chicken, tomatoes and lettuce that we bought just last week!
You don’t want to waste gas, driving all over town for prices.
Then don’t! Just keep track of the stores you’re already shopping at. If you aren’t going to Trader Joe’s this week, then don’t worry about it. Make a note the next time you’re there. You don’t have to know the price of every item, from every store, by tomorrow. Price books are a long-term savings strategy. A war, not a battle.
Price books won’t help because you eat 100% organic and you have food allergies.
Oh my sweet friend, price books can help you out the most! Organic and specialty items are “hot” items and some stores mark them up by a dime or two to increase their profit. Besides, aren’t these items more expensive in general? All the more reason to shop for the best deal you can, right?
You don’t have time. Not even 15 minutes. You promise.
Ok, then. So you’re telling me that from the moment you rise to the moment to go to bed, you can’t possible squeeze 15 minutes out of your day. But not even 10? Or five? Two?! It’s obvious that since you’re reading this blog, you’re trying to save money and eating healthier foods… But spending five minutes recording a few numbers from your shopping trip this week – a small yet incredibly effective money saving technique – is not important enough to make it on your weekly task list? Need I remind you how much can really be done in a mere two minute time frame?
How Much Money Can a Price Book Really Save?
Ok, excuses aside – let’s talk numbers. After all, that’s what we ultimately need this price book to do – save us money – right?
Let’s take five items that we (my family) buys on a monthly basis and put them to use a la price book style.
1. Whole Organic Chicken
Trader Joe’s sells whole organic chickens for $2.69/lb. Every month I buy two whole chickens, and the combined weight is roughly 10 pounds.
Costco sells whole organic chickens for $2.49/lb.
If I bought these chickens from Costco instead of Trader Joe’s, I could have saved $24 over the course of one year.
2. Organic Apples
On average, organic apples cost $1.75 per pound at Costco. Every week I buy approximately five pounds of apples.
When they’re in season, local organic apples are available at the farmer’s market for just $1.25 per pound.
When they’re not in season, organic apples are available at various stores in my area for $1.50 per pound, sometimes less.
If I bought organic apples from the farmers market instead of Costco during peak season, I could have saved $32.50.
If I paid attention to sales and bought from the store with the best price for the rest of the year, I could have saved $48.75.
Combined, this would be a savings worth $81.25 in one year.
3. Organic Eggs
Local grocery stores sell one dozen organic eggs for $4.99. We eat approximately two dozen eggs each month.
A local discount grocery store sells a 20 ct package of organic eggs for $4.79.
If I bought organic eggs from the discount grocery store instead of the supermarket, I could have saved $51 over the course of one year.
4. Black Beans
Only a few local grocery stores sell dried black beans, and those that do charge $1.69 for one pound. We eat approximately one pound of black beans each month.
A local ethnic market sells dried black beans for just 99¢.
If I bought dried beans from the local ethnic market instead of the supermarkets, I could have saved $12.50 over the course of one year.
The best deal in my area for couscous is buying it in bulk from Whole Foods. They charge $2.99/lb for couscous, and we eat approximately one pound of couscous each month.
Amazon sells a large 10 lb bag of couscous for just $1.36/lb.
If I bought couscous in bulk off Amazon instead of from Whole Foods, I could have saved $19.50 over the course of one year.
Total Savings in Just One Year = $188.25
And that was for just five items. Just five!
Imagine how much money you could save if you tracked 10 items… or even 15!
Imagine how much money you could save over the course of time if you slowly kept track of your purchases, diligently recorded the prices and made a purposeful effort to shop for the best deals as often as you could. My mind is spinning with the endless savings possibilities!
So many people ask me how we afford to feed four mouths for just $330 every four weeks. Using a price book is one way we accomplish this, along with these tips:
- buy when it’s a great, low price
- always seek a better deal
- don’t become complacent with the prices you pay
- compare local stores to online stores
- be open to new, unfamiliar stores
- be open to new brands
- don’t assume farmers markets are more expensive
- don’t assume buying in bulk is cheaper
- know what foods are “must haves” in your house
- know what foods you can live without if there isn’t a good deal
So what do you say – are you willing to give this price book idea another shot? How long would it really take you to scan your receipts from this week, and write down a few prices?
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