The best way to save money while having monthly expenses is to know the best price on the items you buy the most. Knowing the price where you will maximize your savings helps you to recognize the “buy it now” price and avoid only “average” savings. This helps you to decide when a good deal is a great deal. Use your knowledge for items you buy on a regular basis.
But knowing your price is not just for the items you buy on a regular basis. It is important to know the best prices on items that are big-ticket purchases as well. It just takes a different approach.
Here are some tips for discovering and tracking your best price:
Read the grocery/ancillary store ads every week. Even if you are not planning on shopping at a particular store, read their ad to find out if items you buy on a regular basis could be had at a better price than you are currently paying. I have noticed over the past few years that I have switched my allegiance to stores more than once because I noticed the prices at another store were consistently lower on items I purchased. As you are reading the grocery ads, you can compare prices without having to physically shop around, looking for the best price this week.
Keep a price journal. Although I am not the best about updating my journal, I do keep track of prices in my head. I can tell you where I can buy chicken breasts at the best price (without a sale) and how much milk is at the store down the street. But this is because I have been tracking prices for quite some time. It is a very good idea to keep a price journal so you can begin to track new purchases. We started buying whole milk versus 2% milk when our girl turned one, so we had a new price to be aware of when we went to the market. This journal could even be a type pad document in your smart phone.
Research! This is especially important when you are purchasing larger ticket items. Checking in with websites that specialize in what you are looking for can tell you about specs on items, price ranges, and even the margin the retailers have in the item. It is also wise to ask friends who are more knowledgeable about specific items for their input. Their expertise can save you expense.
Break prices down to a per item price. You need to be sure you are comparing apples to apples when searching for the best price. Manufacturers make available different size packages to different retailers (and often times the packages look very similar). Make sure you create a common denominator with the products and you will be able to tell what is the best price.
Set a goal. Once you have all this knowledge in your head, set your price and stick to it. This may mean making sure you have enough of an item on hand to make it to the next “buy it now” sale. This may mean forgoing certain purchases for a time until the price levels out again. Or, if you know your price, it may just mean a trip to the market down the road.