Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

Keeping a price book part one

Yee gads!  Have you seen the price of stuff at the grocery lately?  Maybe it’s only me.  Maybe just knowing my income has been drastically reduced has me looking at prices differently?  I HAVE to get myself back in the most frugal habits I can remember.

In a previous post I showed how I dated items in order to know how long something lasts.  Using simple calculations I’m able to figure out the amount I should have in storage for a six month or one year supply.  A one year supply is about all my house can handle before it becomes extremely overwhelming to me.  I don’t keep a years supply of everything, just some things.  I’m often surprised by how little I need for a year.  For example, three large bottles of dish detergent is enough for me for a whole year.

Date item when opened

Date item when opened in order to know the amount you need in your storage

My Grandma Mama used to keep an inventory journal of just about everything in her house.  My Grandma Mama was the most frugal person I’ve ever known.  I miss her very much.  Anyway, when I first started keeping house myself I began my own inventory journal and it was always with me when shopping.  Right next to my coupons.  Yeah, I was really into coupons big time back when I was young.  Coupon values in the 1950s and the 1960s were anywhere from five cents each up to the high value twenty five cent ones with no expiration dates.  Yeah, and stuff cost a whole lot less in those days too.

My grocery inventory is kept in my price book.  You may be wondering what is a price book?  A price book is a notebook listing the items you buy most often and what each costs at your favorite stores.  How is it used? Have you ever came upon what looks like a really great deal on something while shopping and asked yourself is this truly a good deal or not?  Do I need more at this time or have I already got a good supply?  That’s when a price book comes in really handy.  Just look it up.  You can see what was the lowest price you ever paid for that item, where you bought it, how long ago, and the number you want to keep in stock.  A price book can also help keep you from buying something only to discover you already have a lot of  it at home.

How do you make one?  It might be a simple spiral notebook you can drop into your purse or it could be as elaborate as one of those electronic notebook thingies I see people carry.  I don’t trust electronic things.  Electronic stuff tends to die at the worst possible time.  I prefer good old fashioned paper for my price book. Although I rely on the computer to create the paper form I use.

I’ve kept a price book for most of my adult life.  About six years ago my price book was left behind in a shopping cart never to be seen again.  Sure I was upset about loosing it.  I’ve done without it since then because I simply didn’t have time to create a new one.  I don’t have that problem anymore.

Here is my newly created replacement price book.  I found this half sheet size binder at a thrift store.  I plan to make a quilted cover for it when I have time.  After you see how my book works you can plan the details of your own price/inventory book. My old one was a spiral notebook.  I decided to go with this binder to make it easier to change the paper and make it a bit more fancy than a simple notebook.

Organizing 2014 139

Opening the front cover you see a note pad and a zipper type baggie to hold coupons, calculator, pencils, etc.  I like this type binder because the front can be folded flat on the back out of the way if needed.

Organizing 2014 140

I bought some half sheet size dividers.  I already had a half sheet whole punch.   My tab categories are general categories.  If you get too specific the binder is soon out grown.  Keep it simple so you are more likely to use it and not be burdened by it.  I will go into more detail about this in another post.

Organizing 2014 141

The categories (divider tabs) I use in my price book are;

  • freezer inventory
  • pantry inventory
  • baking/staples
  • beans/grains/pasta
  • beverages
  • breakfast
  • canned
  • condiments/spices
  • dairy
  • frozen
  • health/hygiene
  • household/cleaning
  • meats
  • paper/plastic
  • preserving
  • produce
  • snacks

Your categories may be much different.  For me, I found that I’m able to put everything I purchase into one of these categories.  Preserving is the items used for processing foods for long term storage such as pickling salt or canning lids.  Tissue goes in the paper/plastic.  Dish soap or batteries in the household.  Deodorant or tooth paste in the hygiene.  Vitamins in the health.  And so forth.

This is what my price book sheets look like.  Click the photo for a larger view.   I made them using MS office.  My price book is hand written on these computer printed forms.

Organizing 2014 142

You see the line at the top right? You can click the photo to make it larger.  That line is where I record how many I wish to keep in my stock or pantry.  Whether it be one month, six months, or a one year supply it goes on that line. It’s simple math, count and record.

I will be going into more detail in another post.  I’m in the process of finishing a quilt for the fair and helping my SIL finish hers and must get into the studio.

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2 comments on “Keeping a price book part one

  1. sarasinart
    July 22, 2014

    No, it’s not just you, prices are awful on lots of things! You are so well organized.

    • Na Na
      July 22, 2014

      Thank you. Being disorganized is very expensive so I try to keep stuff in some kind of order. At least enough so I can understand my own organizing systems.

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