Crochet Wallet by JKR1205 on Etsy
I’ve hemmed and hawed so many times about whether or not to begin a Grocery price book. Right now, I don’t and instead rely solely on SouthernSavers to make my grocery decisions. This saves me a good amount of money but it’s probable I could save even more if I did indeed maintain a grocery price book. Why don’t I? The sheer number of items I would need to track puts me off. It’s not just going through and actually doing the tracking (labor intensive), it’s also the practicality of storing that information when I’ve accumulated it. Besides, if I were to sit and do this myself, that would mean I’d have to shop the circulars myself, as well as match the coupons removing all of the convenience the free website gives me. For me, it doesn’t jibe.
But, after a little project I did today, I’ve learned this method can be applied to practically any shopping area and could be incredibly useful for anything that is consumed and needs replenishing.
For Christmas, I promised my mother I would make her a throw. We chose a pattern but because of money restrictions, I haven’t bought the yarn for it much less started it. Today, I thought it might be a good idea to price out some of the possible contenders I would use for her blanket from the weekly ads. Turns out, all four are on sale this week at the two main craft stores. Here is what I did first:
Hmm, when you round up the price per yard, they all come to a penny per yard. Interesting. But then, I realized this wasn’t telling me what the cost of my project was going to be. I needed to add some more information. So, I did and came out with this:
That is a totally different animal! If I went out today and bought the yarn for the blanket, the cheapest I can get it is $32 before taxes. If I hadn’t made these calculations, I could’ve spent as much as $80! I wouldn’t have actually spent that but I would’ve been confused about the value I was getting. Now, I’m pretty sure I can actually do better than this because I have seen sales like Buy One, Get One. So, I’m going to keep tracking the ads. I wish I thought of this sooner! I am hoping a price I like pops up in the first week or two of March because I’m participating in a Spending Challenge this month, but I also really want to get this throw done before Mother’s Day.
There’s another pro to having decided to do this: these are the yarns I traditionally work with for gifts anyways (the one without project cost I wouldn’t consider for this project but I use frequently enough to warrant tracking) so I’m doing myself a big service tracking these prices over several ads so I can understand the sales cycles at the craft stores and know a good deal when I see one.
This is the main reason people are encouraged to keep grocery price books. The problem remains however, the number. I’m tracking five items here. That’s it. Once I’ve tracked this long enough to see a price cycle emerge, I can figure out the best price for each and even write them in my handy mini notebook that’s in my purse and I’m good. This is convenient, practical, and easy. This makes me an empowered consumer. I am taking the power of information out of the store’s hands and putting it in my own. The store can no longer tell me a price is good, I can.
Outside of groceries, what sorts of things can/do you apply this to? Do you have a hobby you could apply this strategy to? I’m thinking of applying this to something like our wardrobes. Too often, I find myself running out to buy something for the kids because they need it right now and paying whatever I have to instead of stocking up, and discarding, on a regular and even basis. And unlike grocery stores, I think perusing clothing stores is actually fun. Going with the sole intention of price tracking instead of purchasing might be a nice thing indeed.
By the way, I understand for many people this is a big ol’ “Well, DUH!” kind of thing. But, I figure if it’s not that obvious to me, it might not be so glaringly obvious to someone else. There’s a big difference between someone writing about their awesome grocery price book and then quickly telling you at the very end you can adapt this to anything, than someone showing you how they adapted a common strategy like a grocery price book to something else in their lives.