If you want to be frugal, save money, and stop spending more than you have to, it is so important that you make sure you’re getting the best price for the things you buy. This can be tricky! Just because something is on sale at one store doesn’t mean that it’s selling for the best price. So how can you make sure that you are in fact getting the best price you can? You need to track prices. In this post I’m going to explain exactly how to track prices so you always get the best price. (Hint: it’s easier than you think!)
How to Track Prices so you always get the best price
It’s hard to know if something is for sale at the best possible price. Prices vary wildly season to season, town to town and store to store. The solution? Track prices over time.
The goal of price tracking is to find the best price for the items that you buy most often.
Here is what you want to learn about the items you usually buy:
- Which store has the best price?
- What is the best sale price?
- Is that a good deal?
How many times have you seen something on sale and wondered if that was actually a good price? I used to do this all the time.
After a little while of tracking prices, you’ll be able to see an item on sale and know whether it’s a good price or not.
Tracking prices is actually much easier than it sounds because you don’t need to track every price of every product that you ever want to buy. You only need to track the prices of the main products you buy.
The goal is that you’ll actually learn the best prices for the products that you buy most often. Then, when you see one of those products on sale, you’ll know for sure whether it’s a good deal. And if it is, you can stock up while it’s cheap!
There are 3 main forms of price trackers. Read about each of them below and then decide which one is right for you.
3 Easy Price tracking tools
As you read through the 3 options below, think about what would work best with your personality. You want to be sure to choose the one that you will actually be able to use, maintain, and reference as needed. If you write prices down and never look at them again, it’s not going to help you all that much.
A price notebook is a small notebook (think dollar store) that you keep in your purse.
It’s best to use a spiral bound notebook so you can hook a pencil through the spiral. Use a pencil, because you’re going to want to erase as you see a better price.
This method is right for you if you’re a pencil and paper person who like to scribble notes to yourself.
Pretty Printable Price Binder
This is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a binder of printables that you use to track prices.
Although, it doesn’t really have to be a binder. It could be a folder that you keep your price tracker sheets in. You just want to have a place that you keep the printables together and organized.
If you prefer to keep things organized and are more likely to reference something beautiful, a printable price organizer is probably right for you.
I’ve created a FREE printable price tracker for you to use.
CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE PRINTABLE
Notes on your phone
For years I didn’t use this feature, but now that I’ve started I use it for everything. It is so convenient and easy to use. You’re phone is always with you, so it makes sense to keep the information that you need in it.
If you have an iPhone, you can just use the notes app that comes with your phone. If your phone doesn’t have something like that, simply download the free Evernote app.
This is the right method for you if you hate writing things down and love keeping all the information you need in your phone.
How to track prices
Have you decided on which price tracking method you want to use? Great!
Now I’ll take you through the step-by-step process of how to track prices. The process is the same for each of the 3 methods.
To initially set up your price tracker, first think about how you want it to be organized. I recommend organizing by category. For example: household goods, produce, dairy, kid’s favorites, etc. Decide on the categories that would work for you based on the products that you use most often.
If you’re using a notebook or printable, make a page for each category. If you’re using notes on your phone, create a note for each category by entering the category as a heading.
On each page, list out the products that come to mind when you think about what you buy on a regular basis. If you’re struggling to think of what those products are, look around your house and look back at your receipts. If you are looking back at your receipts, you may want to write the price you’ve gotten for that product previously in your notebook next to the product.
This should be a quick thing. Don’t spend a long time searching for your most purchased items. Just give yourself a starting point — you can add to it from there.
Track prices as you go.
You do not need to track every price for every item that you ever might want to buy! You are trying to find the BEST price for the items that you buy MOST OFTEN.
So, if something has had a better price during a previous sale or at another store,
There are two super simple ways to do this.
- When you see something on sale and you think it might be a good price, take a picture of it with your phone. Get the price tag with the sale price and the item in the picture.
- Keep your receipts. Look back at the items you purchased later and record the prices of the items that you regularly buy
Again, this should be a quick thing.
Update your price tracker when you see a better price.
When you see or purchase one of those products you’re tracking at a better price, make sure that you are updating your price list to reflect the better price. If you’re using a paper method, just erase and rewrite the price.
Make sure that you also update the store that you saw the item at if it is different than the original store you recorded.
This doesn’t mean you need to whip out your price tracker in the middle of a store!
If you’re buying the product, just keep your receipt and record it later.
If you’re not buying the product, just take a picture of it with your phone and reference it later when you’re updating your tracker.
Tip: If you can’t take a picture with your phone (perhaps, because you took 10,000 pictures of your kids and now your phone is full) just text yourself the price for that product.
Just make sure that you look back at those better prices later and update your tracker.
Here’s the good part!
Use the price list you created to actually get the best price on the items you buy.
When you see something on sale, check your price list and see if the sale price is as good as (or better than) the lowest price you tracked.
If the price is good compared to the price on your list, buy it!
If you’ve got room in your budget and it’s a product you use often, you may even want to stock up.
And you can feel good about buying it because you know that was a good price.
I know that was A LOT of information! But now you know everything you need to know to track prices and get the best possible price.
Decide if you want to use a notebook, printable, or your phone to track prices. Set up your tracker, track prices as you go, and use your price list to get the best prices as you shop!
It might seem like a lot of work, but once you get the hang of it tracking prices will be a super quick. The benefit of knowing you are getting the best price and knowing when to stock up is definitely worth it.
After tracking prices for a while, an amazing thing will start to happen. You’ll be in a store and you’ll see an item on sale. You’ll know the price that item is usually on sale for, and you’ll know off the top of your head whether it’s a good price. That’s when you’ll know that you’ve mastered price tracking and you’ll start really reaping the benefits of your efforts!
Do you want to save even more? Here are some posts that will help:
7 Frugal Habits that will save you Thousands
How to Set and Stick to a Grocery Budget
Amanda | Pinwheels and Piggybanks says
Thanks! I’ve heard about a price notebook but wasn’t sure how to set one up. I imagined lugging a giant notebook through the store and trying to record prices as I went (and lugging a toddler around at the same time!). I should definitely start this because I think I often falls for “sale”prices that really aren’t that great of a deal!
Here in the UK we have tracking apps too!
I need to know how to use Evernote though. As you say, we always have our phones with us so it makes sense to use it.
I believe in shopping around and saving every penny you can too.
What’s the best way to track regular prices – a 10 pack of mini Pepsi is 2.99 at Foodmax (not a sale price), weeks pass and all of a sudden it’s 3.99. What’s frustrating is that I shopped elsewhere for all other items and the Pepsi May have been 3.50 and I decided to go to foodmax and now stuck paying more!! I know this is part of life lol but any ideas/tricks that can help??
That is so frustrating, Monika! Unfortunately with situations like that it’s pretty hard to track because stores can just decide to change the on their merchandise. But in many stores, if you complain about it and explain how you went out of your way to buy if there, they might make it right. Good luck!
What a fab idea to keep an eye on prices
Gary @ Super Saving Tips says
I used to track store prices for a living. If you’re up for just a little more work, you can track the dates of the best prices and use these to actually predict the sales cycle for when that product will be on sale at that price again. This can be very helpful for knowing when to stock up on what.
That sounds like an awesome job! Great tip, Gary! I included a place for a date on my printable but I should have mentioned it in the steps as well!
I’ve heard of using CamelCamelCamel for price alerts but I’ve never tried it. Honey randomly sends me price alerts, but it doesn’t happen that frequently. I love your price tracker – that’s fool proof!
Right now I put things in my Amazon cart and just keep an eye on it to see if things dramatically reduce in price, but it’s not an ideal strategy!
Five in the Hive says
It’s amazing how just writing down what you spend can encourage you to save money. Everything seems more real when you see it written on paper. #Thatfridaylinky
This is awesome!! I’m thinking of starting to coupon again soon and this printable would be very helpful when I do. Thanks!!