Time to Update Your Price Books!

When I teach my Kosher on a Budget couponing class, I always stress the importance of keeping a price book.

The more you know, the more you save.

My favorite example is Newman’s Own pasta sauce.

At Walmart – where I’d assume the price would be lowest – Newman’s Own Marinara costs $2.29. Not bad.

At a local grocery store (Hen House), where they double coupons up to $.50 (so my $.50/1 coupon is worth $1), the jar costs over $4.

And at Super Target, both the organic and non-organic varieties cost just $1.89.

But let’s say I didn’t know that $1.89 was the best price in town. And one day, I went to Hen House and happened to see a big SALE sign – which always catches my attention – announcing a half-off sale on Newman’s Own. I’d probably get really excited, thinking I’d be “saving” $2 a jar. So excited, in fact, that I’d probably stock up and buy 10 jars!

Imagine how frustrated I’d be when, later that week, I’d see the same jar of sauce for full price at Target for $.40 LESS than I’d just paid with a “sale” at Hen House.

This is just one product, but if you take the tomato sauce example and multiply it across the dozens of items in your grocery cart, you’ll really be saving!

And there’s no reason to stop with food. Your price book can actually be your most useful money-saving tool in your household budget.

Here are some examples:

:: Prescription drugs – I recently learned that one store sells my generic prescription for $4/month, while the other store charges $10. I’d incorrectly assumed that generic is generic. But apparently different pharmacies have different generics on their $4/month list.

And certainly if you take non-generic medication, the cost can vary widely between pharmacies. So always shop around!

:: Air/water filters – We replace our fridge filters every 6 months. With that much time between replacements, it’s easy enough to forget what I paid the last time. A price book prevents me from grossly overpaying when the water starts tasting funky.

:: Electronics & Appliances – You may not need or be able to afford a new TV, computer, camera, dish washer, etc. etc. right now, but if you have one on your “eventually” list, now is the time to update your price books.

Imagine that you buy a KitchenAid 600 ProSeries in April – and you get it “on sale” for $450. Sure, you saved 10% off the MSRP, but with a price book, you’d know that your new machine actually cost just $185 during Cyber Monday.

That’s why now is such a great time to update your price book — most electronics, appliances, toys and even clothing are at their “rock bottom prices”.

Note that if you plan to purchase during non-holiday sale times, you may need to add another 10-20%, but at least you will know the base price.

The more you know, the more you save.


  1. I just felt like I was in a G.I. Joe cartoon….”And knowing is half the battle.”

    Great points, Mara. You are so right on about a price book. I always say the same thing – a price book (not coupons) is the number one way you will save on your monthly groceries.

  2. So, Mara and Kelly, know of a pricebook app so we can always have our numbers at our fingertips? 🙂

    • I’m working on a little something, C… sssshhhhh….

      • Caroline – I’m a big fan of Eversave. I never publish my price book because I think every family is different, has been “strategic shopping” for less or more than me, and has a different stockpile.

        I never want someone to feel bad about paying $1.99 for laundry detergent, just because I can wait till it is $.99.

  3. Any way we can create a price book wiki for some common items? Listing an average price and best price for groceries, toiletries, paper goods, pharmaceuticals. Maybe with separate pages for a couple of different regions – I am in NY and we tend to get universally higher prices on everything.

    • I know that some of the folks that attended my Chicago couponing class did something like this with a Facebook group.

      • We have a Facebook group to update and support each other on local sales. Becky also created a wiki page/google form so we could enter prices at local stores, but I’m not sure how much it’s used. (Read: I intended to use it, but I couldn’t access it on my previous phone, so I didn’t use it at all.)

  4. The lowest price tends to be different in different areas and NY isnt always more expensive. For example you posted earlier today about Shout and knowing that my mother is always buying that stuff I told her about it and she gets it even cheaper in a small local store here in NY when it goes on sale.
    I tried making a facebook group for this kind of things but it seems like most of my Facebook friends arent really interested in saving money or have no patience for it so I was the only one really involved and I’m not able to record every items I buy in every store in the area. Here’s the link to the group if anyone is interested https://www.facebook.com/groups/165220913551019/

  5. I keep track of what certain items cost at Target compared to my usual grocery store. Simon’s favorite cereal is consistently $1 less per box at Target. Even when the grocery store runs a nice looking sale, it can’t touch Target’s prices. Same goes for our brand of granola bars and the ridiculous Uncrustables Simon loves so much (having an uber picky kid is really tough on the grocery budget).

    I’d love an app. OMG that would be like gold to me!

  6. Couple of questions:
    – I’m trying to start my price book. I am currently listing it on a Word doc. How (or where) do you write/type your prices? (Are you able to carry it around with you when shopping? Which I clearly can’t do with a Word Doc.)
    – When marking the price of an item, do you mark a total dollar value or price per ounce/piece? Which do you think is more likely to work? (Ex: Salad Dressing. “12oz for $2.99, 24oz for $4.99” or “$.2079/ounce”?)

    • Could you can take a little notebook with you and jot down the prices at the story and then upload them into your word doc at home? If you have a smart phone, you could put the doc into a note-taking app (like Evernote).

      I usually write down the total price, but then break it down to the per unit price as well. That way it makes it easier to compare apples to apples. For example, some pasta is 12 oz., but other bags are 16 oz.

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