Extreme Couponing: What's Your Buy Price?

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Confession: I still haven't created a price book, like The Mrs. Another confession: Unless someone forces me into it, I may never make a price book. That's horrible, isn't it? What kind of extreme couponer am I? I haven't made a price book and I haven't bought 100 bottles of Tums or Maalox.

I've never been very good at The Price is Right. It's not that I didn't know how much food costs, it's that I knew the prices of food at military commissaries -- and those prices are always about 30% lower than the average retail price. Then, when I moved away from the military and had to shop like the regular people did, I had trouble learning prices and basically just knew that everything cost more, so I went to the store with a general idea of what we needed, the amount I had to spend and just kept a running total in my head so that I knew I wouldn't go over budget. Not a very effective way to shop, is it?

Groceries


It got worse when TW and I moved in together. She took over all of the cooking and never seemed to make a menu (except in her head) or a shopping list (except in her head), so the only things I knew about for sure were things that fell into my area of responsibility: laundry, dishwashing, kid lunches, feeding the dogs. This led to some interesting shopping trips. Here's what happened over and over again, when we lived in Florida and shopped at Publix: On the second row of the store, TW would invariably reach for three cans of some kind of beans or canned tomatoes. I'd look at them in shock -- and ask why she was buying those. She'd tell me that she planned to make X this week. I'd say ok, (reaching into the basket to take them out), but we already have two cans in the cabinet, and that's all you need to make X.

She'd reach back for them on the shelf and tell me that we should always have extra cans of [insert beans or tomatoes] and put them back in the cart. I would sigh deeply and depending on how broke we were at the time, I might take them out again and insist that we did not need them.

Sometimes I'd just ignore her purchase but grumble to myself about buying stuff we don't need.

But wait, I'm not immune to this problem either -- my issues tend to be related to shredded cheese. I am always sure we are out of shredded cheese and microwave popcorn, (let's blame the two youngest girls for this, because they use a lot of both.) TW is forever telling me that we don't need shredded cheese, and I am always nervous about passing it up because I am sure that we do.

I cannot remember either of us ever buying extra anything because it was on sale and we thought it would be a good idea to stock up -- except when we used to shop at Sam's and even then, our stocking up didn't work, because the teens just took that as a sign that they should eat twice as much as normal and our stockpile was gone by the next week's shopping trip.

Now you see why we were always broke and our cabinets were always empty, right?

Even before we started Extreme Couponing, I knew we should at least have some idea of what a good price was for the different foods we buy, but it always seemed like too much work to create a price book like the one Mary Ostyn recommended to us in her book, Family Feasts for $75 a Week. We'd talk about creating one and then get distracted by some other frugal living idea, and we never followed through.

Three months into extreme couponing and I'm still dragging my feet over the price book -- but at least I know what my buy price is for a bunch of things. And better yet, our little stockpile means that we are not going to run out of anything before it goes on sale at our buy price. Yippee! But we do still need to get busy with the price book. There are still an awful lot of things that seem like they might be a good price, but I just don't know -- which means I end up buying at a price higher than I should have or that I pass up a deal that I should have taken.

Here's a short list of some of the things that are on my currently non-existent price book:

  • 12 packs of Coke - $2.50 or less
  • Bottled water - $1 a case or less
  • Toilet paper - $.25 a roll ($.01 a square seems to be a pretty popular TP buy price!)
  • Pasta - $.50 or less a box
  • Jar pasta sauce - $.50 or less a box
  • Canned soup - $.50 or less a can
  • Olive Oil - $2.50 a bottle
  • Salad Dressing - FREE
  • Mustard and Ketchup - FREE (I bought Organic Ketchup last week and made $.23!)
  • Cereal - $1.50 a box or less
  • Oatmeal - $1.00 or less
  • Shredded cheese - $1.75 or less a bag
  • Yogurt/pudding - $.25 a cup
  • Chocolate - $1 a bag or less - individual bars should be free, (for goodness sakes!)
  • Canned, Ground Coffee - $1.50 a can/bag
  • Toothpaste, brushes, floss - FREE every time
  • Shampoo and conditioner - $1.00 or less a bottle
  • Deodorant - FREE (I did pay $.50 for Secret Clinical last week because Elly seems to have an allergic reaction to most other types.)
  • Body wash - $1.00 or less a bottle
  • Bar soap - FREE
  • Dish soap - FREE
  • Laundry detergent - $1.50 a bottle/box

You'll notice that fresh vegetables and meat aren't on this list at all -- that's because a) I don't really like meat b) prices of produce seem to fluctuate like crazy, and my only care is really whether it looks good. If we need it or want it and it's fresh and yummy-looking -- then we're gonna buy it (and I cannot wait for the farmer's market to start again, because produce has looked so bad for so long, it's scary.)

So that's where I am with this price book thing. I know more about what something costs -- or more importantly, what the best price should be for things we buy -- but a price book would help us to be sure we are spending our money wisely.

Here are some resources for you (and to help inspire me.) Remember, based upon where you live -- your buy price may be different from another person's list.:

Do you have a price book or buy price list? Can you figure out how to motivate me so that I'll make one of my own? Do you want to join the Extreme Coupon Challenge? It's not too late! Just read back over the tips from weeks 1-4 and come back on Wednesday evening for this week's extreme couponing tips.

I'll be live Chattering/Tweeting this week's episode of TLC's Extreme Couponing -- Wednesday night at 9:30pm ET. Join me, it's a lot of fun.

~Denise
BlogHer Community Manager
Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

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