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Budgeting for 2011: Creating a Price Book

In 2011 I will be doing a short series of articles on creating a grocery budget as well as some other topics (if you have any questions you would like me to address e-mail me [1]!)  I don’t want to start the full series yet because I know the holidays are crazy, but there is a simple step you can take now to help you at the first of the year. 

One of the best tools to save while grocery shopping is keeping a price book or list (I personally did it in excel when I first got the hang of things but lots of people just carry around a small notebook).

In the most basic terms, a price book is a list of how much your normal grocery items cost at local stores.  By taking this book with you when you shop, you will automatically know if you are getting a good deal!

So here are the steps you can follow to begin this process:

1.  For one month, record the name, price and size of everything you buy at the store. Do this as long as it takes to get the normal price for your regular purchases.

2.  Once you have the prices for your items, just compare them when you shop!  Let’s say you pay $.79 at Walmart for Campbell’s Soup, but Harris Teeter has them on sale this week for $.50.  You pull out your book, compare the prices and if it’s a good deal, maybe buy one or two extra.   (Remember many grocery stores now have on-line shopping so you can see their prices without having to go in a store!) 

3.  Remember to update your grocery pricebook anytime you find items for less than the price you recorded in the pricebook. Then this becomes your new baseline price!  The longer you use coupons and search for deals, the lower these baseline prices become!

So for right now. while you are running around grabbing groceries for the holidays, take a few minutes to jot the prices from your receipts down on a piece of paper, in a notebook or on the computer.  Then in January we can start using your new tool to save big!

And if you aren’t feeling very creative, you can use these pricebook worksheets from Money Saving Mom [2]!