Price Books

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I’m going to interrupt my coupon series here to blog a little about a price book. It’s not absolutely vital to couponing, but it is such a HUGE help that I wanted to include it at this point. A price book is valuable whether or not you use coupons though – so hopefully this post will be a help to someone.

A price book is some sort of document or book that contains current prices for items that you normally buy – at each store you shop at. You can see at a glance where it’s cheaper to buy something. For instance, sugar might almost always be cheaper at Aldi, but it’s on sale this week for less at a different grocery store instead of Aldi.

You can do them digitally or on paper. I’ve done several different ways.

The simplest way is probably a blank notebook. A lot of places say to give each item one page, but I never needed that much space for any one item. Half a page would probably be plenty. You write the item at the top of the page, and then write down the brand, price, size of object (like 5 lb package, 12 oz, etc), the store it’s at, and the date. The reason you put the date is so you can start to learn sales cycles and so you can see if a price may be outdated or not.

I’ve tried typing a master list and then printing it and putting it into a 3-ring binder. It worked ok for a while, when I kept up with it. I even tried keeping the master list on my hard drive, but didn’t keep up with that very well either. I’d forget a few times. . .and I found I didn’t do a very good job keeping up with them at all.

Then when my husband got a new PDA for work, he gave me his old one. I was looking for other software online for it, and came across a program called HandyShopper. It’s only for Palm OS at the moment. It’s a list maker and price book all in one, and it has completely changed how I do my price book. Now, when I mark items on my shopping list, it gives me a total based on the prices that I have in the database. I can see how much things should cost before I even get to the store. Not only that, I can select a specific store and see exactly how much I can expect to spend at each specific store. For a tiny little freeware program, it has helped immensely.

The HandyShopper database also transfers easily from one device to another. When I upgraded to a newer Palm, I worried that it would be difficult to transfer the data over. It ended up being pretty easy, and was a huge relief that I didn’t have to rebuild the database!

I’ve tried to create price book documents for people to download, but haven’t been able to come up with one that I am truly happy with. Maybe that’s because they don’t work the best for me – I don’t know. If there is enough interest in the documents, I’ll consider putting them up online to download.

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3 thoughts on “Price Books”

  1. Tammy, I agree, it can get really cumbersome! If it weren’t for my PDA, I probably wouldn’t bother with it. As much of a help as it is, for me, I don’t keep up with it on paper enough to make it worth all the work.

    All that said, the one on my PDA took a while to set up and is constantly getting edited. It’s nice now though to hit the “Total” button and be able to see how much I should be spending before I hit the stores. But that’s just one feature of one neat program. I wish it were that easy for everyone.

    Susan, Stephen’s phone is a Blackberry so I understand the PDA/phone aspect. It actually sounds pretty nice to be able to carry around one less device. I hope you can find a good, easy to use program for your phone!

  2. I’ve tried to keep a pricebook too, but never stuck with it. I’d be interested in seeing one for my phone, which is an HTC Touch (kind of like a PDA in phone). I’ll have to do some looking to see if there’s one for my phone. Thanks!

  3. I’ve read a lot about doing this, but it seems so cumbersome to me, especially starting it up. The thing is, I usually remember what good prices are anyhow. You know, like when I first got married, whole chicken on sale at 59c a pound was a good price! But now, 98c a pound for whole chicken is a great deal! 🙂

    I may consider doing this later, but right now I’ll just stick with my memory! I can see how it would help to target store cycles and figure out when to do stockpiling of certain items.

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