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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 The reason you put the date is so you can start to learn sales cycles and so you can see if a price may be outdated or not.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.