Monday, March 16, 2009

Know Your Prices - Frugal Tip

I’ve been thinking about posting about keeping track of what the cheapest price is for an item. It’s been quite a dilemma for me, mostly, because this is kind of a pain in the butt but really worth the effort.

Back years and years ago I made a price book per the Tightwad Gazette instructions. I used this book for like forever. Now, that I’ve been doing this for so many years I sort of have an idea of what things should cost and what is the best price for them. If you are interested in trying this out I would highly encourage it. If you can figure out an easier way to do this I’d love to pass it on.

My price book was a small 3 ring binder with dividers for each letter of the alphabet. As I went through the grocery ads I would update my book if needed. This was a great way to anticipate sales and determine the best price for those items you use everyday.

Each page looked something like this: (though hand written not typed)
I hate Blogger right now. It won't let my do tables.

Item - Safeway - Kroger - Albertsons - Costco - Date

Apples - .39/# - .44/# - .54/# - .35/# - This is the last date of the best price
Apple Sauce

You get the idea. This worked so well that I dropped my food bill by half. Because I never bought anything that I had gotten cheaper at another time. The reason why I waited is because prices fluctuate in a 4 month cycle or there about. If something went on sale I would buy about 6 months worth. Then when it went on sale again I still had a little left from before.

Now that I’ve been doing this so long I really know when something is at its lowest price or the price I’m willing to pay for it.

This weekend’s shopping trip reaffirmed my belief that Costco is not always the cheapest. A sale item can beat the Costco price. On non-sale items you sometimes can do better at Costco. This is why you need to know your prices. Here is an example:

In honor of St. Patty’s day (of which I’ll be posting some great St. Patty’s day historical postcards) things like red potatoes, cabbage, corned beef, and Guinness were on sale. (these are all things I keep on hand. You can’t be the wife of an Irish man and not serve corned beef and cabbage at least once every other month if not more. And we all know that Guinness is a food group all by itself.)

Check out the difference in prices:
---------------------Local Grocery Store-------Costco
Corned Beef ---------1.27 per lb.-------------3.39 per lb
Red potatoes---------.50 per lb--------------.60 per lb
Cabbage--------------.33 per lb------------------N/A
Guinness------------8.99 per 12 pk----------20.99 per 18pk
Pasta ----------------.75 per lb---------------1.17 per lb
Tomatoes-------------.88 per lb--------------2.39 per lb
Butter---------------2.99 per lb-------------1.39 per lb
Olives---------------1.39 per can-------------.99 per can

I hope this encourages you to watch your prices carefully because you can save a bundle.


PS: I probably will be cutting back on blogging or at least not long-winded blog posts (you can thank me later) for a little while. I accepted a job offer from the University of Houston that I couldn’t pass up. I’ll be busy packing, moving and starting a new job.


  1. Wow, congrats on your job! Need more deets, though I understand you're too busy to blog.

    And great reminder about the price book. I've meant to do this. I have a sort of mental one in my head, but it's prone to error!

  2. YEAH! A new job with out furlow days! And a beautiful area! Oh, Hippy Hoo Ray for YOU!


  3. Congrats on the job! Hm, you may know my cousin. Or not. Not sure. He is a librarian in Texas, but I think he works in the admin department now, not in the libraries themselves anymore. I'm confusing myself here!

  4. Congrats on the new job!..sounds like a great opportunity.

    I do this cross-referencing thing, but I try to keep it all in my head. Trader Joe's blueberries=$2.99/pint. Safeway=$3.99. Etc. It makes my brain hurt, but I figure it saves a bit of money.

    Your method is more suited to my OCD-ways.

  5. Congratulations on your job! Hope it all works well. And you are so right about watching prices. I think people are doing this -- or at least talking about it -- more than ever! And please don't be a blogging stranger. We need you!

  6. Wow! Good luck on the new job.
    I can't do the price thing as I live in a town so small we only have one grocer store. I try to buy when I am in the town I work in but there are only two stores there so we don't have many choices. You always have such good ideas though.

  7. Congrads on the new job!!!! We'll be here when you return! Safe travels!

  8. Congrats on the new job - very, very exciting.

    I'm impressed with your shopping technique. I've slowly getting better, but I haven't achieved your level of mastery yet.

  9. 18 Guinness is like a week's worth of meals isn't it?

    Congrats on the job! Sounds awesome - we'll be here when you get back!

  10. Congrats on the new job! Having a a book is a fantastic idea. I can't believe I have never thought of that!

  11. Congrats Michele and tell the hub man to eat some corned beef for me. I'll eat vicariously through him. Cheers!!

  12. mazel tov. It's amazing how many people are relocating for work now

  13. Hey, congratulations on the new job. Best of luck!!

  14. Yy, you came out of the closet about the new job! That price binder sounds like such a great idea, you should publish it! Ha, not really since it would be ever changing but it is a great idea to take with.