ABCs of Saving: Know Your Price

This entry is part 10 of 13 in the series ABCs of Saving

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Have you seen the documentary about the guy who gamed The Price is Right out of thousands upon thousands of dollars? It turns out he wasn’t as devious as you might think. He simply knew the game so well and knew the kinds of prices they would be looking for.

In short, he had done his research.

The best way to save money on 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 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.

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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. You may find items you buy on a regular basis could be had at a better price than you are currently paying. 

Over the past few years 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.


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.

When we were in the market for a leather sofa for our living room remodel, we did a lot of research about the materials. We shopped at a number of furniture stores – online and in store. After our extensive research, we felt better prepared to purchase. And we are still enjoying the resultant purchase.

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.

This is one of the tricks I use when planning our snacks as a family.

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.

part of a series called ABCs of Saving - simple tips for saving money: know your price - how to learn your price and keep it in mind for

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Michelle

    Visiting from the SITS Sharefest earlier today! This is great advice. I’m not the best at comparison shopping with the two grocery stores that are right here in my town but our local pharmacy also sells milk and some food and interestingly enough, their sales are way better than the grocery store so whenever I see something that I buy on sale, I will stock up there instead.

    1. ussleah

      That’s right, Michelle! I have noticed that too. G for this series is Gather Goods in Odd Places and it talks about that.

  2. Crystal

    Michelle, we can also buy milk in our village for much less than the big supermarkets in larger towns and cities. Ads are few and far between here in Northern Ireland, and coupons almost non-existent, but you learn to recognize a good deal and then we stock up with as much as we can afford to buffer future price increases.
    One thing we must be careful with is going into the £1 shops as you don’t think £1 is much, but many times you can buy the same item elsewhere for less if you’re not careful.
    Breaking things down into price per unit/100gr, etc. is a pain but it certainly can make a big difference over the longer run!
    Setting a limit for yourself before walking into a shop is a great idea.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas, Leah, we all need a little reminder now and again!

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