Managing Money

The Price Book – Part II

April 5, 2006

Keeping a Price Book is simple, but it can be overwhelming at first. Below are my ideas for starting and maintaining a Price Book with a minimum of time and effort.

  • Start with just a few stores. It can be tempting at first to run all over town and check out every store available to you. That will soon lead to exhaustion and frustration, however, and make it tempting to chuck the whole idea. I recommend starting with the stores at which you regularly shop. You can add others later if you choose.
  • Build your price listing slowly. There’s no need to spend hours in each store, writing down the prices of everything you buy. Shop as usual at first and use your receipt to begin your price listing when you get home. Similarly, make use of grocery flyers and Sunday sales ads from various stores to note prices. This can be done from the comfort of your kitchen table and not while balancing a notebook, calculator and shopping cart in a busy grocery or warehouse store.
  • Focus on regularly purchased and high priced items. The list of items you buy can quickly become overwhelming. To get the most return on your time, I recommend starting only with regularly purchased items and very expensive items (meats, etc.) No need to drive yourself crazy tracking the prices of inexpensive items that you only buy once or twice a year. As keeping a Price Book becomes more second nature, you can begin tracking those things if you choose.
  • Stick with it.One of the great benefits of keeping a Price Book is that soon you’ll begin to see trends. You’ll notice when a store has the best loss leaders (worth a trip), tends to have consistently higher prices (stop shopping there!) or consistently lower (a good choice for dashing in to pick up a few things when there’s no time to compare). You’ll also commit prices to memory without even trying, making you less a slave to the book itself. Sticking out the early days of building a price book ensures you’ll be around to reap these rewards!
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