Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Step 5 to Abundance: Making a Price Book for Buying Groceries

by Janine Bolon

This is a wonderful tool to use to immediately and drastically decrease your family’s burn rate. You will see a pronounced difference in your monthly expenses, specifically your grocery bill, by using this tool then by any other means that I can recommend.
But it requires some really specialized, high priced equipment. What you will need is a three-ring binder. Then you can go out and buy an A to Z index to put in it – or get really frugal and make your own. And then fill the binder with three-hole punched notebook paper. The last item you will need is a pen or pencil. (Okay, I was kidding about the high priced equipment.)

What you are going to do is create your own price book. Amy Dacyczyn was the first author I read that described this system. Invest the 15 minutes a week required to get this program up and running and you will have a huge return on the time spent. Or, as we frugal types like to say, you will achieve a very high hourly wage for your effort!

The first thing you do is sit down with your ring binder (price book) and write down the most frequent items you buy and the prices that you normally pay off the top of your head. If you are like most of my clients, you will have no idea what you pay for most of your groceries. The next thing to do is to grab your store advertising circulars. Most folks get these in the mail or have a spouse or friend pop by the store on the way home to pick up the week’s circulars. Look over each circular and put down the sale prices of the items that you would buy that week; the most highly discounted items (the “loss leaders,” or items sold below cost to lure you into the store) and thus the best buys will be on the front and back pages.
For my family, we’re always looking for milk to hit a sale. My kids know that we won’t pay over $2 a gallon on milk. So each week we scan the circulars and find milk on sale at one of the four grocery stores we have in town. If it isn’t on sale that week, we don’t buy it. The longest we have ever had to go without milk was two weeks. Because of our price book, I learned that our stores have milk on a two-week sale cycle. I buy enough milk to last us through the two weeks as we wait for the sale to come around again. You can do the same thing with eggs, bread, bananas, or any other staple that you can name. You just have to do a few minutes of homework each week to keep your price book up to date.

1 comment:

GroceryHop said...

We created a free grocery price book website that helps users track grocery unit prices paid by item and also shows which items have increased in unit price and units purchased. The website handles all the math and grocery item organization. Among the features of the website are:

1). A grocery list that shows the lowest unit price paid to facilitate comparison between the current store unit price and previous unit prices paid. Very helpful at the store!

2). Analysis on spending trends to provide a list of grocery items where unit prices have increased and total units purchased have increased, among other areas. Helpful at home for figuring out where to cut costs and why the bill is increasing.

3). Item detail and trend analysis for additional detail.

The site is

We also have our grocery price book online for all to see. Please let us know what you think!