Keeping a Price Book

For the last few months I’ve been keeping a Price Book of everything I buy. It’s just a notebook that I write in. For each purchase, I list what I bought, where I bought it, the quantity broken down into ounces (preferably), and how much it costs. Then, I break that cost of the item further down to price per item and price per ounce.
So, a sample entry goes:

Item: Diet Pepsi (36 pack of cans)
Where purchased: Costco
Quantity: (36 cans x 12 oz each) 432 ounces
Price: $8.99
Price Per Can: ($8.99 / 36) $.25 each
Price Per Ounce: ($8.99 / 432) $.02 per oz

By doing this, I’m creating a database of my purchases. As any accountant or analyst can tell you, data is a valuable thing. By breaking each purchase down to the smallest component I can, I am comparing apples to apples as much as possible so I can more efficiently direct future purchases.
So, the Price Book lets me:
A. Compare the different prices I pay for the same item. Diet Pepsi, for example, ranges from $.02-$.12 per oz. That is a ten cent difference for the same thing. Once you start recognizing differences like that, you begin to see how often you’re overpaying for an item.
B. Realize where the best deals are. In this case, I’ve determined that the best deal for Diet Pepsi in my area is to either buy a two-liter on sale or to buy a 36-pack of cans at Costco. So, I know that when I am at Costco, I should always buy a 36-pack of Diet Pepsi and I will be saving money (as long as the price stays the same, that is). This simplifies my shopping in the long run.
C. See what food really costs. Breaking the price down by ounce has shown me what food is the most expensive overall. I had no idea I was paying almost $1 per ounce for coffee, and switched to a cheaper brand. I learned that items I thought were good deals were really rather high. For instance, I thought buying Tuna Helper for my husband at $1 a box was a good price, but it ends up being $.27 per ounce. Making tuna helper from scratch costs $.12 per ounce, a fifteen cent savings per ounce, and a considerable savings overall.
D. Determine the cheapest food. I found out that flour is one of the cheapest things I buy, so I started baking more. I plan to eventually go through and list the cheapest food and start using them more in my cooking. You can’t help but save money that way.
E. Look at what I really buy. Before doing this, I had no idea we were buying so many sweets or potato chips. In fact, I was a little surprised to find that most of our purchases were luxury items like sweets and junk food. It has been interesting to examine my purchases and see what I really need versus what I really buy.
F. Let’s me be more efficient overall. This is why I started the Price Book in the first place. Yes, it requires a little discipline to go through your purchases and write them down. However over time, it should allow me to more easily recognize good prices and to know where the best deals are. Believe it or not, keeping a Price Book should save me time and energy in the long run.
I know how anal this method will seem to some people, and I can’t really argue with that. It’s certainly not for everyone. But if you’re serious about reducing what you pay for food/household goods, I recommend it. It can save you a lot of money.

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4 thoughts on “Keeping a Price Book”

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