When I first started to seriously use coupons, I found that I was looking at every deal as though it was a “great” deal. Because I had not previously been mindful of the average prices for the items our household used on a routine basis, I wasn’t sure what was considered a good price, a great price, or a stock up price. I ended up stocking up on items that were a good deal, but would have been a much better deal had I waited a few weeks until the price dropped more significantly.
It took me awhile to become familiar with what I considered to be a good price for items such as cereal, bread, peanut butter, shampoo, pasta, and so on. While I was in the process of determining what those prices were, I found it useful to jot down the sale prices I would find for a particular item, the size of the item, and the store I found it at.
Over time, I used this listing to create a price book. It served as a guide to help me judge when an item was at a good price versus when the same item was at a very low price that warranted stocking up. The more I used this guide, the more familiar I became with the average prices of the items our family used. It didn’t take long before I no longer needed the guide, and could easily spot out a great price with just a glance.
Had I not made out the price book in the beginning, however, I think it would have been doubly hard to find my footing with using coupons and getting the best proverbial bang for my buck. So, what’s the easiest way to set up a price book if you are just getting started?
It defeats the purpose of saving money if you spend a lot of money to create your price book. I suggest using a basic notebook – especially since you easily pick one up for just pennies with all of the Back to School sales. Slip a pen in the side (also ridiculously cheap with all the office supply store sales), and voila! Your price book is ready to go.
Bring it along when you grocery shop
Simply slip your price book into your purse or coupon bag so it’s handy when you’re out grocery shopping. As you spot an item on sale, jot down the name of the item, the size of the item along with the sale price, and the store that you found the item at.
Use the organizational system that works best for you
There are a number of ways to organize your price book. However, the only right way to organize your book is the way that works best for you. It doesn’t matter if a different system works best for someone else; if the system you use isn’t convenient for you, it won’t be an efficient way to keep track of prices for your family.
Whether you choose to organize the book by store, by brand, or by food category (frozen foods, dairy items, and so on), consistency is the main key. As long as you log the items consistently, you’ll have an easy time referring back to your price book, and finding the best deals for your family.
Do you have a question about using coupons? If so, please feel free to either e-mail me (katie at cincinnaticents dot com) or leave a comment on this post. I’d be happy to feature your question in an upcoming post in the Couponing 101 Series.