31
May
2011

Extreme Couponing: Creating a Pricebook

05/31/2011. This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Disclosure Policy.

So here is the next step in learning to coupon for those that are following along.

You will want to create some sort of price book.  The point of this is to determine what YOUR best price is for products so you have a handle on when to buy a little extra product to get you through to the next sale.

Price books are very individual things because so much will depend on where you live, if you have double or triple coupons and the stores available to you. Here are a few examples to show why price books are such a personal thing- note these are just examples not deals that are currently available.

Recently Safeway stores ran a sale on ketchup.  If you live in Northern CA, the deal looks like this:

Heinz Ketchup $1.69
Use $.25 coupon (coupons do not double in my area)
Final Price: $1.44

Not a good deal really. But if you happen to live in MD:

Heinz Ketchup $1.69
Use $.50/1 coupon (exact same coupon insert but the value was higher on the East Coast and this coupon doubles)
Final Price: $.69

So again this is the same chain of stores and the exact same sales circular and the exact same coupon inserts but you can see by living in my city, I would have paid double the price for this product as someone on the East Coast.

Here is another example using Safeway stores once again:

Haribo Gummy Bears are $1.00/bag
There was a $.30/1 coupon available

If you lived in my city, the price would be $.70 after coupon
If you live in an area with doubles, the price is $.40 after coupon
If you live in TX, where they have triples, the price is $.10 after coupon

So hopefully this helps clarify why you really want to figure out the best prices in your area for grocery items in particular.    A stock up price for me might be $.70 on candy but for someone in Dallas it might be .10 and you can see why from the example above.

Now how to go about creating your price book...  I would encourage you to spend as little or as much time as you want on this project.  Really the main goal is to just become more conscience of prices at your stores on the stuff you buy most often.

You can just get a tiny notebook and start jotting down the prices on the products you buy most often.  After about 6 weeks you should finally start to see the lowest those products will hit.  Once you get a handle on that, just start to narrow down the items you buy from week to week.  Rather than buying product x once a week and paying whatever they charge, you wait for product x to hit the lowest it will go and buy extra to last you for 1 or maybe 2 months.

I have a “price book” that is located right upstairs in my head.  I just sort of remember what I like to pay for things and it is that simple.  For example, before I started using coupons, if I needed chicken, I would buy chicken.  I don’t think I ever paid attention to the price.  I needed chicken and that was that.  Now I know that the lowest price on a good quality fresh boneless, skinless chicken breast is about $1.88/lb or less.  So when chicken hits that price I buy a little extra to get me through a few weeks until it goes on sale again.  I just know all this stuff after shopping deals and using coupons for awhile- it really becomes second nature.

If you are new to this process or like to have things more buttoned down, I am attaching an excel spreadsheet with my current “buy” prices as a stepping stone.  I do not have double coupons or any of the incredible grocery stores like Kroger and Publix in my city so hopefully your prices are significantly lower.

I would encourage you to customize the list to what suits your household.  For example, you can get Bar-S hot dogs for probably .20 and that might be a stock up price for you on hot dogs.  Bar-S is not a product that our family uses, so my stock up price on hot dogs is probably $2.75 for something like Hebrew National.

I also said I would pay up to .50 for toothpaste.  Many people refuse to pay anything at all for certain products like toothpaste, but in my situation I tend to be willing to pay a little extra for convenience.  If I have to make an extra trip to Walgreens to get toothpaste for free and then spend $2 cash and roll rewards and such, well I would rather go to Target and just pay .50 for the same product and save myself some trouble.    So again, it is all about value to you!

You can see my Price Book here- note there is one tab for grocery and one for drugstore items.  You should be able to very easily update this with your own products and prices!

You can check out more articles on the Learning to Use Coupons series here.

You might also check out my vlog with more tips on understanding grocery store sales cycles.

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Hailey May 31, 2011 at 2:27 PM

Thank you so much for this article! I recently started a price book and can recommend that if you use an address book with indexed tabs in alphabetical order, it’s easy to reference.

Rachel R. May 31, 2011 at 2:52 PM

I also have a price book in my head. It probably fails from time to time, but it’s been easy for me and not time consuming! Thanks for your price list. I would also love to see you add prices for organic meats/poultry. I don’t really see any sales on those items so I usually buy my organic meats at Costco. I’m wondering if anyone has any other ideas of where to buy organic meats/poultry at a lower cost?

Charlene May 31, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Rachel, I am going to wrestle my friend Susan down from Organic Deals and make her help me with that. We are scooting into more organic meat and I pester her all the time for prices ;) One super cool thing I am excited about is a giveaway I am setting up for 40lbs of fresh chicken and then another giveaway for a bunch of really high quality ground beef. It is not organic but it is much better than what you get elsewhere. I guess this company has a delivery service and from what others have said, the prices can not be beat.

Maybe Miss Amy T the organic queen will read this and share her prices with us. Personally I find Costco prices on meats to be exceptionally high but I have not checked organic.

Margaret May 31, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Thank you for the file! I started a grocery file awhile ago and I print it out and put it in front of my coupon, 3 ring binder. I like the idea of seperating out the drug store items. Thanks again for the great information!

Adrienne May 31, 2011 at 4:21 PM

For folks in the Bay Area, check out anyleaf.com. They rate grocery sales on how good a deal a sale actually is for common stores – Safeway, Lucky, Nob Hill, Raley’s, Target, Walgreens, CVS, Smart & Final, and Save Mart. I’m not affiliated with them in any way, just seems like a nice free service.

Charlene May 31, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Adrienne, I have seen sites like that before but I don’t get it really :) How is $4 for Hummus a good deal? I never understand where they get the prices from.

Sylvia May 31, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Thanks so much for this! What a big help to get me started on my own price book.

Endcapps May 31, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Charlene, when you visited GA recently did you visit their grocery stores? Generally lower prices than here in NorCal? Did you get to try a store with double-coupons? Just curious

CC May 31, 2011 at 5:48 PM

triples !!.. i didnt know there were stores that tripled.. wow.. i want to move there..

Charlene May 31, 2011 at 5:58 PM

CC- only coupons .35 or less I think it is. But still on things like handsoap, condiments etc.. you can see what a huge difference it makes.

Charlene May 31, 2011 at 6:06 PM

Ha! EC I kept trying to convince my husband we needed to move. One city we went through had Harris Teeter, Publix and Kroger within like 1 mile. I didn’t go into any stores except we got those $1 lunchables from Walgreens on a car trip :) I post the deals for all these stores though and Publix in particular you can’t even compare. You can use 3 coupons at Publix- they take competitor ones and on top of that they have fantastic sales each week. ShopRite in the NE is another store that just has amazing deals.

He is so unreasonable really. He says we can’t move so I can live somewhere with an early Target ad and he says we can’t move so I can have better grocery stores. Unreasonable.

Lori May 31, 2011 at 8:23 PM

This is wonderful. Thank you for this and all the great tips you have on your site.

Lisa G. May 31, 2011 at 8:36 PM

I am so wishing we had a Publix in CA. We are so price gouged here. They pay less on the east coast than I do for strawberries grown in the county I live in. And we pay more for gas too, even with all the refineries in the Bay Area. TX, GA and NC are all looking good right now lol.

Jana H May 31, 2011 at 9:18 PM

Finally…a price list for my area (I am in Grass Valley and shop in Roseville every couple of weeks). It is nice to have local prices because so often the prices I see for other regions are SO different. Thanks for your info!

Anna May 31, 2011 at 10:52 PM

He is unreasonable! Like mine! Yet he wants to move to San Diego! Great! Higher living cost!! :p. I wish we could have better deals here in nor cal. Then we can really save money on food. I need stockpile of food! :)

Anna May 31, 2011 at 10:58 PM

Thank u Charlene. I was hoping for you to do it for me. Hehe. So those are max you would pay for? Some I’ve seen lower(recently) and some I wonder where you get it. Like pasta!

Tara May 31, 2011 at 11:00 PM

Thank you so much for doing this! I got Pasta Sauce (Ragu) for .71 a jar today and was wondering to myself if it was a Stock up price, I live a town away from you so this is VERY helpful! Thank you SO much!

Charlene May 31, 2011 at 11:55 PM

Anna where to find pasta for .49 or less? Well the Piccolini was free awhile back at Safeway and the Ronzoni is free or .49 at Raley’s every few months. It isn’t the max really- just a sort of guideline. Like milk. I can’t really stock up on that (I know I can freeze it but I won’t) so if it is $6.50 that week, well we need milk. In general those are stock up prices- so not I want macaroni tonight I will grab a box of pasta at $1.50 prices, but rather oh Ronzoni is .25 this week, I better get 4 boxes prices :)

anna June 1, 2011 at 10:01 AM

ok, thank you!! :)

Rachel R. June 1, 2011 at 1:22 PM

I am excited about your fresh meats/poultry giveaway! Sounds awesome. Costco has lower prices on organic meat and chicken than I have seen in the grocery stores. For example, Safeway sells organic beef for $5.99/lb and it’s $4/lb at Costco. Organic chicken is the same. And after Food Inc, I just can’t buy non-organic meat anymore. :( Too scary!

Charlene June 1, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Well Rachel- we are getting that way too. I keep thinking- do I really need to spend 3x on Organic eggs each week and then last week in Sacto they had a chicken farm shut down because the stench was so bad people miles away were getting sick. :( Can you imagine how ghastly that place must have been?

Endcapps June 1, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Charlene, your Hubby may be unreasonable, but he’s A Keeper in my book because he cooks!

Rachel R. June 2, 2011 at 2:35 PM

Eeegads! When products look the same on the outside, it’s easy to think it’s all the same. Why not buy the cheapest? But, when you see how everything is processed, how the animals are treated and what they’re given to eat, it convinced us to go organic.

Leanne June 3, 2011 at 9:47 PM

I want to thank you about your comment on Walgreens. I have stopped shopping there as I get so frustrated with register rewards. It’s nice to know others feel the same!

Nikki June 14, 2011 at 5:32 PM

I can’t find the drug store price list…any suggestion/help?? BTW THANK YOU for this!! I’m just learning and this is SO helpful!! I love it!!

Gena B June 24, 2011 at 1:38 PM

I’m so glad I’m not the only person who keeps their pricebook in their head, lol! My Sister and Bro-in-law will call or text me and ask me where a certain product is the cheapest…one of those little things that really has no great use until you need it. =)

Donna Giden September 28, 2011 at 11:16 PM

Hi
I was just wondering how a coupon doubles or what does that mean ?

Shelia in TX November 13, 2011 at 8:32 PM

Two things – First, I quit doing ANY of the register rewqrds from CVS OR Walgreens. Turns out to just be a waste of money b/c you don’t know what they will have on sale the next week or if you want it, and since they expire in 7 days, you’re *crewed! A marketing gimmick. Glad to see other ppl caught on too.

Second, I got my Price Book OUT of my head! Too much other more interesting stuff to keep up there. I couldn’t open your example, Charlene. :( Was hoping to get some pointers. I use a spiral Colorz- 5.5×4″ – 200 sheet, college ruled notebook. Small & you can slide a pen thru the spiral. I then sectioned it off alphabetically (2 letters per tab) with some tabs (actually made from the edges of 44 cent sheet stamps, white). I just folded them over the edges so they stick out.

Anyway, then I just enter a Category product , ex: Cat food or tea. And under it across the line in rough columns, what brand I purchased, size, price/price per oz., Store abbrev., date MM/YY. I’m not brand conscious on most things (I mean, why?) so it’s interesting to see how much less store brands usually are, Instant Oatmeal for example.

Oh, yes, I think ALDI’s may be nation wide & they usually have 1 gal milk for $1.99. I buy almond, coconut, even flaxseed & some soy b/c of all the hormones in dairy. Just be careful of ALDI products as they fool you with a smaller package so you think you are paying less. They don’t have scales for their produce either. Priced each or prepackaged. So far they are cheapest on frozen wild caught salmon: went up to $4.49 for 16 oz. individually wrapped.

Thanks Charlene for your site.

Rose January 8, 2012 at 8:58 PM

I used to live in New Jersey where Shoprite (the best Grocery Store , I think ) , doubled coupons up to 0.99 cents. They even had triple coupon specials now and then. I saved a lot of money. We moved to Houston , Tx 3 yrs ago and have never found a store that does that. No one here doubles the coupon amount. I miss Shoprite!

Nicole August 26, 2012 at 4:45 PM

I am new and I’m just starting out and the information that you have on this site is wonderful. I can’t wait to get started. I have already started my price book and plan on doing a spread sheet as well. Again thank you for making this wonderful site and helping with starting this up.

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