Author Topic: Maintaining a price book  (Read 5987 times)

horsepoor

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Maintaining a price book
« on: February 15, 2014, 10:35:50 AM »
Several posters have mentioned maintaining a price book, and I'm curious about how you do this.

I use the Out of Milk app for shopping lists, and it looks like I could use one list as my price list if I enter the name of the store as part of the item name, since there is a price column.  This has the advantage of being usable on my phone, but still seems a little clunky.  I also have a tablet that runs Polaris Office, so maybe a spreadsheet or other app would be better?  Of course, I would probably only bring the tablet along on bigger shopping trips, while I have my smart phone with me all the time.

MustachianAccountant

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2014, 11:13:39 AM »
A Google docs spreadsheet works well for me. Items down the left, Stores across the top.
Idea from here:
http://www.thesimpledollar.com/building-an-electronic-price-book/

AccidentalMiser

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2014, 03:33:11 PM »
This is the second price book thread I've seen in as many minutes.  Weird.

Anyway, I guess DW and I do this in our heads.  We always buy the same stuff at the same stores where a given item is cheapest relative to its quality.

I can't imagine having yet another thing to track electronically.


horsepoor

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2014, 04:44:13 PM »
Thanks, I will probably just use Out of Milk so it's in the same place.  Google Docs would work well, too.  I definitely don't want to pack a binder around to the grocery store.  I usually just keep track in my head, but I realized while I was shopping yesterday that I couldn't seem to remember what a good price was for the tuna I buy, since I buy a lot at once every few months.  It does seem like it would be a good idea to enter the last sale price the item was purchased for as well.

Sorry if this is a repeat thread.  I did a quick scan and didn't see anything, but didn't search the archives.

mm1970

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2014, 06:26:31 PM »
I started with a little paper book with a different page for each item.  I moved on to a spreadsheet.

Now it's just in my head.

CrochetStache

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2014, 06:54:30 PM »
I've used the Price Book app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pricebook/id327448884?mt=8

Whichever system you choose to use, it does take a bit of time up front to input the information but the effort was worth it for me.

the fixer

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2014, 08:42:58 PM »
All these price book threads have inspired me to try it. I know some prices in my head, but there's a lot I don't commit to memory. I rummaged through some old receipts and got started entering prices into a Google Docs spreadsheet.

Some interesting findings: the Asian grocery store near our house has really good prices for meat (incl grass-fed beef, organic chicken, etc.), which we knew before, but terrible prices for organic produce. I also did a bit of math to give Trader Joe's the finger; they specify prices of a lot of produce as per item instead of per pound, so I weighed some produce I have around the house to come up with a ball-park average weight and do the conversion on their prices. It turns out they actually have some really good deals compared to my other nearby grocery sources, I just never trusted them because they don't communicate their prices clearly.

happy

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2014, 12:12:37 AM »
In Australia, the stores must not only display the price but cost/100gm or whatever the relevant measure is, so you can easily compare which is the cheapest product.  My regular supermarket also tells you how many % off if the item is on special eg 20% or 50% off. I double check their math ( coz I can) usually but have not found it wrong.

I have my "buy price" in my head  (like a share buy price).  Although we eat a wide variety of foods, when you stop buying random junk and buy specific items you know you need to cook at home, then its not so many items and I don't find it hard to know what something usually costs.  If I buy something I don't usually get for a new recipe then I have to do a bit of research about where its cheapest..eg some spices are cheaper at green grocer than the supermarket.

MayDay

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2014, 06:20:42 AM »
I also did a bit of math to give Trader Joe's the finger; they specify prices of a lot of produce as per item instead of per pound, so I weighed some produce I have around the house to come up with a ball-park average weight and do the conversion on their prices. It turns out they actually have some really good deals compared to my other nearby grocery sources, I just never trusted them because they don't communicate their prices clearly.

I have the same issue with trader joes!  I buy some shelf staples there, and a few convenience foods, and other odds  and ends.  But I hardly even look at the produce because I have no idea how he prices compare.  Same with regular target's with grocery sections- I guess in the regular stores the check-ours don't have scales, so they price it all per each.  Not a huge deal since I am not trying to do major grocery shopping anyway, but it does reduce the chance that I will grab something while I am there for other things.  Oh well, their loss. 

I have trouble keeping exact prices in my head of things we don't buy weekly.  I buy a big bag of oatmeal or flour or beans every few months, so I don't remember the price.  That is what I really need a price book for.  I am not going to go around to four regular groceries anyway looking for the best price on cumin.  I have better things to do with my time.  But I do need to keep better track of good sale prices on shelf stable stuff like canned goods, so I can buy and stock up.  I also need to. Do it for my bulk dry goods and shop around to different places, as that is a big enough purchase to justify going to a whole new store. 

MrsPete

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2014, 08:44:40 AM »
I started my price book about 20 years ago, and it's not a fast project.  It'll take you six months to really get it going -- and during that time, you may not really see the benefits.  But once you have it done . . . wow, you'll be able to figure up which store sells peanut butter at the best price (it's Walmart in my area), which store has the best prices on paper products (Target for me), etc. 

Then there's the next step, which I think some of you aren't anticipating: 

You make yourself a list of which products are consistently cheapest at which stores.  So my list might read like this:

Walmart:  Peanut butter, dried beans, canned goods, baking goods
Target:  Paper products, cleaning products, beef, sodas on sale
Aldis:  Milk, eggs, chips

This isn't my whole list, of course.  I'm saying that bit from memory. 

So, you DON'T shop at four stores in one week.  Rather, you decide that this week you're going to Walmart.  You're not out of peanut butter yet, but you see that you'll probably need it within a week or two.  You have one unopened bag of flour, but you go through it fast.  Knowing that you probably won't return to Walmart for another month, you go ahead and buy peanut butter and flour -- but you're buying them at the store you know is your cheapest option.  This means you DON'T run out of these things and end up paying more at Harris Teeter, where you'll shop next week.  You DO NOT buy paper products at Walmart, even if you're low on them, because you're certain they'll be cheaper at Target, and you'll get there within a week or so.

Similarly, I buy all my spices at a health food store in a nearby city.  I don't go there on a regular basis, but IF I'm going for some other reason, I make a list of spices on which I'm running low, and I stop and pick them up while I'm in that area.  This means I DON'T run out and find myself paying $5-6 for a tiny bottle at Food Lion. 

The only rub in this deal is fresh produce and milk -- things I buy every week.  I often run by Aldis and pick up these things because Aldi's is small and easy to shop quickly.  Or I'll just pay whatever they're charging for fresh vegetables rather than make a stop at another store. 

When I started my price book, I used Amy Daczyn's method, which she outlines in her book The TightWad Gazette.  She uses a small notebook with one page for every item you buy on a regular basis -- so one page for catsup, one page for macaroni noodles, etc.  On that page, she writes details about prices from each store.  So it might read, Food Lion -- 28 oz store brand $$, 32 oz Hunts $$$.  If I were starting this project today, I'd probably begin on the computer.  I started by sitting down with my receipt after each shopping trip and recording what I'd bought. 

This project is worthwhile; it's one of the things that's made the most difference in my spending.  Today I know that Food Lion's going to put big bags of frozen chicken on sale BOGOF the first week of every month.  I know that canned goods will be at their cheapest in the fall, so I'll buy cartloads. 

But, again, it's easy to stop this project in the early stages and say, "I'm not seeing any results."  You won't -- for months.

Cinder

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2014, 09:11:23 AM »
I'm interested in this as well.  I'm trying to build myself a combination price book / pantry&fridge inventory / shopping list app.  I'd love to do something like walk in the grocery store, scan an item, make sure it's the thing on the list, enter the price we see it at (if buying) or just enter the price info. 

Then I could have it just build up the historical data 'passively' so I can see when and what price things are their lowest cost, and where. 


Seppie

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2014, 11:53:34 AM »
I've been contemplating doing an old-school price book, with a little index card binder. Not sure why that seems easier than an electronic version, but I often find that my follow-through is better on paper than on my phone or computer. Thinking one card per item, in alphabetical order. I probably won't shop much differently than I do now, in terms of number of stores or timing of shopping, but it would give me info about what is a really good sale that I should stock up on vs. what's just meh in terms of sale price.

Basenji

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2014, 06:11:13 PM »
Resurrecting the thread, anyone use an Android app for a pricebook? There are a bunch of choices.

horsepoor

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2014, 06:14:43 PM »
I set up a "Price Book" list in the Out of Milk app that I use for shopping, but never followed through with it.  I've really just simplified on the things that a price book would work best for, so I'm finding I can keep pretty good mental track of prices for the things I do buy.

Basenji

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2014, 06:20:34 PM »
Thanks. I'm reforming some gourmet waste, so I need a crutch! If I find one I actually set up and use, I'll report back.

Sylly

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Re: Maintaining a price book
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2014, 12:54:08 PM »
I just started using this Shopping List app as combination shopping list and price book.

A bit of work to start populating items and prices (but this is probably true for any app), but has all I need so far.

Multiple lists, configurable categories & units, and best of all, free!