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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pricebooks are the BEST Tool for Saving on Groceries

About a year ago I was using a more comprehensive price book, I created it on my computer using a database program. I don't have Office on my pc so I couldn't use that, instead I used the Microsoft Works database program that came with my laptop. It was a little bit tedious I thought at first--mainly because I was not skilled with the software and I think I wasn't disciplined enough to really record prices as I ought to. Eventually I came up with a simplified price book in which I tracked only the prices for Aldi and Sam's Club. My reasoning was that these are the stores I buy things at that I 'kind of' expect low prices. If I knew what they charged for something most likely a good deal would be anything that is lower. After all I was using Grocery Game all the time and it made sense to let them keep track of prices at other stores for me.

Well--I am of a little different mind now. Prices have gone up and down like yo-yos the past year, things are much more complicated. I've been tightening my belt more and more and dropping things I used to pay for. I am letting go of Grocery Game at this time--because I need to do this for myself. I can't predict always which store I will shop at and on which day--that is important if you use GG-- because there's a 'window' for shopping using that system. You need to go to specific stores between Sunday and Tuesday. I can't do it. Between my part time job and living in North Carolina while working on my new house in South Carolina I must have a more flexible system. I need to be able to shop on Wednsday if that's when I'm free.

What I'm doing now is updating my old more comprehensive price list and using that instead of the Adli/Sam's list. I have found out that I can often get a better price at Harris Teeter if I watch the prices than I can at Aldi or Sams! I'm still using coupons and I'm still saving inserts. I now keep them filed in cheap manila folders in an inexpensive plastic file box. I have coupon inserts as old as 8 months that still have some use able coupons in them.

To find coupons that will match up with sales I go to Couponmom.com and use her coupon database. It works very well. Yesterday I made a grocery list at the Harris Teeter website and I was able to cut and paste coupon info from CouponMom's database into the 'notes' field of my Harris Teeter Shopping List. When I was done I had a list that included coupons and where to find them. I then pulled my coupons and went off to the store. I picked up a couple of chickens at Sam's Club and a few other things--I know I get a better deal on some things there.

I think Grocery Game does find more deals than I was able to on my own--but with the money I will save from not using GG anymore I can buy extra newspapers and have more coupons. I'm also letting go of my home newspaper delivery as the price is going up--which I figured is what they would do as soon my introductory rate was expired. I don't want to sign on for too many weeks of the Charlotte paper anyhow as I am moving away.Sometimes I shop in South Carolina now instead of in Charlotte, so I also buy the newspaper there to see what's up in that area and get the coupons.I'm learning about a new place now.

In any case I won't be updating my Sams and Aldi Price Book anymore because I am incorporating them into my Databased Price Book. Every time I shop now I take my receipts and sit down and enter the info into the database. Then with few clicks of my mouse I am able to have the info 'magically' put itself in the proper places. I made my database so that it files items and prices first by category, then by specific item. So an apple will go in Produce for instance. I have fields in my database for store department, item, cost and unit, store, and a little field that calculates the unit price. I also left room for notes on each line so I can type in things like 'coupon for 50 cents' or 'Lowest price'. This helps me see at a glance what was involved in getting a good deal and which price is best for buying. When I update this list I delete some info as I add new. I like to see a little bit of old info but not lots. Its enough for me to know that milk is over a dollar less per gallon than it was last year, I don't need to know all the stops along the way.

It matters when you buy things and where. Yesterday I picked up some fresh green asparagus--a treat! for $1.49 per pound. I probably would not pay more than that for it--and I love it, but I don't 'need it' I can eat other veggies if its not on sale. Also--the sale needs to be a good sale--there's a difference!

Today being Wednesday, the new sales flyers are out at the stores. Harris Teeter has the SAME asparagus listed again for $3.79 per pound, next to it in bright red it says: "Save Big!" ya... well I'm saving big--I'm not buying it. :-) I got mine yesterday for $1.49. There are sales and there are sales.. my Pricebook helps me know the difference.I can't remember every deal. Without my price book I could easily pay twice as much for something I could have for much less if I just wait a few days or buy it a few days earlier. I understand why they call it the Grocery Game--it is a game. The stores are professional players and we amateurs need to beef up our skills to learn to keep up.


I'm planning to keep up my couponing and my sales watching. My Price book however is the best tool. It tells me more than if I am getting the best deal for Harris Teeter--it tells me if I am getting a deal that is as good as I can get anyplace. It tells me when I'm overpaying and when I should stock up a bit. Stocking up right now seems to be the smartest thing I can do. To the best of my knowledge we are almost certainly in for some big time inflation in the future and its not too far fetched to think that more of us will lose our jobs. Why take what will likely be more limited resources in the months ahead and use them to pay for things we could have gotten for less now? Things like toilet paper and canned goods can be stored ahead. I'm not saying I will try to build up a 5 year store or something-but I think it is a time that prudent people will want to have a little more in the pantry than they usually do. Just in case. I want to stock up with things that are low priced not with things that are overpriced. Makes sense to me. :0)

1 comment:

  1. Yep, to me it's a great idea!
    I manage to keep enough food on hand to feed us for about 3 months, with wheat, beans, rice and milk for nearly a year.
    I try to buy low and eat high.lol Of course, the trick is to rotate the food so it doesn't spoil. Indeed, that IS a trick. One I still need to do a whole lot better at. sigh

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