Starting A Pricebook

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Free Grocery Pricebook Pages

My Story: Pricebook and Pantry

Pricebook 101

Where Do I Begin?

I want to set up a pricebook on the computer, but have no idea how to do it. How have other readers done it?

Keep It Simple

My computerized list is fairly simple. It is simply a shopping list with the lowest unit price paid for each item. I made it using an Excel spreadsheet because it is easy to manipulate the columns and cells when I have to edit the items. I arranged the items in order by my most frequently shopped store. My list has been rearranged twice in the past three years. Hence it is important to easily edit your list. By only keeping track of the lowest unit price, it keeps the list to one sheet but still gives me a good reference price.

An Online Guide to Pricebooks

Here is an excellent link to the price book chapter (The Art of the Price Book).

Start with Word

I found one store that takes competitor's sale prices, so I do all my shopping at that one store. I keep track of prices on my computer, using a basic Word program. Everything I typically purchase is listed on a single sheet of paper with its price. I have the products arranged by section of store or aisle. Before every shopping trip, I print off my list, underline what I need, and figure my budget. If I exceed my budget, I simply cross things off. My price list doubles as my grocery list. If there are other things I need that are not on the list, I simply pencil them in with a guess as to the cost. This enables me to figure within a few cents how much I am going to spend at the store.

Free Help from the Internet

I started a price list using a simple spreadsheet program, but when I got a palm pilot, my husband found a program called "Handy Shop," which we downloaded for free from the Internet. I organized both lists by how they would be organized in the store and both have a place for price. I cannot always shop for the absolute lowest price, and in a cold climate, some products are price-volatile. So I use what I would pay to purchase bulk in my regular store as my basis for the price book.

If you are familiar with how to use spreadsheets, you could program the function I like most about Handy Shop. When I hit "all," my whole list comes on the screen. When I hit "Need," only the items I have ticked appear, then they disappear as I purchase them. On a spreadsheet, have the following columns: Status, Item, Price, and Coupon. Enter your items (no empty rows). Then as you need items, enter a character in the status column. Before you go shopping, run a filter on the status column so that only items with a character in the status column show, print it, and then go shopping (just remember to re-set the status column when you get home).

I did find some other lists on the Internet, but do not recall any that was as good a fit as Handy Shop with the spreadsheet as the second choice.

Check Out This Book

Good ideas for a price book can be found in Amy Dacyczyn's The Complete Tightwad Gazette. You can probably find this book in your library, but it's worth the money to order it from the Web or buy at a bookstore. I have volumes I, II, and III.

Hitting the Target

I typed my master grocery list out in a Word document, using four columns, with categories listed in the order I shop through my local store. I keep a highlighter near the fridge where the list is posted and mark each item as I need it. While shopping, I started noting on my list the lowest unit price I could achieve for each particular item. Before printing my next grocery list, I would add those prices, in a smaller font, after the item right on the list. It was a process that took several months, and I continue to update it.

I use my unit cost as a "target," such as 11 cents per ounce for my brand of peanut butter. I shop with a calculator, factor in coupon savings, and re-compute the unit price to see if I am close to meeting or beating my target. If the price at the warehouse store is even less, I know I am getting a good deal.

I like my method because I can use it anywhere I shop, and it is all on one piece of paper.

Use Your Address Book

I maintain my price book in an address book!

T - toilet paper
C - cake mix
C - coffee
I - ice cream
D - dog food
P - peanut butter

And so on. It's easy because I only list those things that I regularly purchase. And with the information listed alphabetically, the price comparison is easy to find. It's easy to carry to the store, and I can easily add additional pages.
Kate of Knoxville, TN

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