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The “Price Book”: A Useful Tool for Spending Less at the Supermarket

Updated on August 8, 2015

Living a frugal life...

Let’s face it, the economic picture hasn’t been very pretty for the past few years. Many countries, including the United States, have been faced been banking and housing crisis’s. Unemployment statistics have remained unusually high. And, as if we didn’t have enough problems already, the cost of groceries and gasoline have been skyrocketing. As a result, many people have been forced to re-evaluate their family budgets in order to stretch every dollar as far as possible.

I know that I, like so many other people, have been struggling to make ends meet. Being a certifiable book nut, I’ve chosen to deal with the problem by consulting the many books available at my public library for information and advice. Over the next few weeks (or months), I intend to write a series of hubs to discuss the things that I have learned, the strategies that have worked (as well as the ones that didn’t), and any other tidbits that I pick up along the way.

Today, I’d like to talk about creating a “price book.” I first read about this useful tool for spending less money at the supermarket in the book, The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. As the name implies, a price book is simply a notebook where you can compare the price of items at different stores. Creating one is simple. All that you need is either a blank notebook or a three-ring binder stocked with sheets of lined paper and a pen or pencil. Now, write the name of a grocery or household product that you purchase regularly on the top of a sheet of paper. Next, create a chart with columns for the following: Store, Brand, Size, Price, and Cost. I’ve scanned a copy of my personal price book to use as an example. I apologize for my handwriting—one of these days I’ll type up a worksheet!

Example page from my personal "price book."
Example page from my personal "price book." | Source

 By far, the two most important columns in the price book are the size and cost of the item. Make sure you always use the same units of measurement in order to reduce confusion. For instance, on my example page, I compared the cost of a jar of jelly based upon the number of ounces in the jar. The Welch’s jelly was the cheapest at seven cents per ounce while the Albertson’s store brand was the most expensive at eleven cents per ounce.

You’ll need to create a page for all of the items that you purchase on a regular basis. I find that it’s easiest to only list one item on each page (it makes it much easier to add to your price book and rearrange pages later on). Personally, I organize the items in my price book based upon the item type (ie: canned goods, produce, paper supplies, etc). However, I have friends that prefer to simply alphabetize their books.

Now, the next step is to take your price book with you the next time you go shopping—or, if you’re self conscious, you can use your receipts to add the information to your book once you return home. Make sure you remember to fill in all of the relevant information in your price book. I realize that the process can be time consuming (especially in the beginning); however, it is well worth the effort!

A price book provides you with all of the information that you need to make sure that you get the best price possible while grocery shopping.

Have you ever used a "price book"?

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    • Hollie Thomas profile image

      Hollie Thomas 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I've saved quite a bit of money by working in my bedroom and not the room I usually work in. The latter room doesn't get any sunlight as it's at the front of the house until late afternoon, so it's always cold and I need the heating on. My bedroom on the other hand, gets the sun during the day (it's at the back of the house)so it's always warm. I've saved 20% on my heating bills compared to this time last year.

    • Reprieve26 profile image

      Reprieve26 6 years ago from Oregon Coast

      Sunnie-- congrats on the retirement! :)

      Jeannie-- I'm the same way. I'm always trying to find new ways to save money and stretch my limited income as far as possible.

      Thank you both for reading! :)

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      This is really great information. I am always looking for ways to save money, so I will give this a try.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 6 years ago

      Goodmorning Reprieve,

      This is something I am going to start doing..retiring in less than 18 days..I need to be very careful in my spending..Thanks for a great hub and idea.


    • Reprieve26 profile image

      Reprieve26 6 years ago from Oregon Coast

      Yes, the price book would work really well for large families. However, there are only 2 people in my household and I still find it incredibly useful. There are a lot of items that I simply don't buy very often because it takes me so long to use them up. The book is helpful because it helps me remember how much I spent on a particular item the last time I bought it. It also helps when I have a coupon or something is on sale-- to make sure that it's REALLY a good deal. By breaking the cost down my the unit, you can effectively compare the costs. Anyway... just my two cents worth!

      Thanks for reading! :)

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I haven't used a price book. It is a wonderful idea for a family of size. There are only two of us. I buy big sizes of staples and it lasts for a long, long time.

      This information can be very useful for most people.