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  • A Price Book: The Single Best Way to Save Money on Things You Buy

    Price Book - chieffamilyofficer.com

    In the last five to ten years, as couponing has taken off, the Price Book seems to have fallen out of favor. But it’s the single best way I know of to cut back on expenses.

    A price book is simply a way to keep track of prices so that you know a good price when you see one. The benefit of a price book is that you can pay the lowest price on everything you buy on a regular basis, so you can substantially reduce your expenses on groceries and household items.

    There are lots of different ways to keep a price book, but I think it’s easiest to do it in a spreadsheet. Here’s an example:

    Price Book Example - chieffamilyofficer.com
    Click on the image to see a bigger version.

    I’ve used last week’s Charmin deal at Target in this example, with a final price of 36 cents per double roll. As you can see, there are columns for Item, Size, Price, Coupon?, Other promo?, Final Price Per Unit, Date and Store. I have question marks after coupon and promo because those columns don’t always apply, but they do in this case. The “Other Promo” category can include store rewards like ECBs and +UP rewards too.

    The most critical data in a price book is the “price per unit.” That lets you compare apples to apples. For example, if next week, CVS has a 12-pack of Charmin on sale for $4.99 and there’s a $0.25/1 coupon in the P&G insert, you can calculate a final price of 39.5 cents per double roll. So you know that last week’s deal was better and you can skip the new deal because a better one will probably come along soon. Conversely, if the price next week is $3.99, which works out to 31 cents per double roll after coupon, you’d know that next week is a great time to buy toilet paper and you’d update your price book to reflect the better deal.

    If you’re starting a price book from scratch, here are some easy ways to get some data so you have something to compare new prices to:

    • Use recent receipts – Pull out receipts from recent shopping trips and use them to enter as much data a possible. You might not have the exact size information, or recall whether you used a coupon, but at least you’ll have a starting point.
    • Add data while you’re shopping – If you see something you regularly buy, even if you’re not buying it that day, take a photo of the shelf tag with your phone. Shelf tags generally list the item, size and price, so you should be able to calculate the cost per unit after you enter the data when you get home.
    • Use store circulars – Flip through the weekly ads for the stores you shop at and enter the info for the items you buy regularly. For example, all of the info in last week’s Charmin deal at Target, except for the coupon, could be found in the weekly ad.

    For organizational purposes, you could have different spreadsheets for different categories of products in your Excel file, sort the file alphabetically, or simply use the find function when you are looking for something specific. Within a couple of months, you should have a very useful tool that can help you save money on just about everything you regularly buy.

    You can download the CFO Price Book template here {Excel format}.

    This post will be linked to Thrifty Thursday at Living Well, Spending Less.

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by posterize.

    Morning Coffee: Happy Earth Day!

    Morning Coffee is published daily and includes the best of the latest coupons, deals, and info I think you may find interesting. Prices and deals can change at any time so be sure to verify them before making your purchase. Please note this post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for using them! You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    ~ Zulily: Seventh Generation eco-friendly baby and cleaning products

    ~ Also at Zulily: Hello Kitty Collection, including blankets, sandals, adult apparel and more {prices start at $3.99}

    ~ Amazon’s Gold Box Deal of the Day: Titanfall for Xbox systems or PC for $36.99

    ~ SavingStar: Get 20% back WYB loose apples

    ~ Pampers Gifts to Grow: Get 10 points with code FB987EART6DD014 {expires 4/24}, plus get 10 points each for reading this article and this article

    ~ Savings.com: Enter to win one of 150 $20 Home Depot gift cards!

    ~ Amazon: Free Android app Hidden Objects Quest 15: WINTERLAND {$1.99 value; 4.7 stars in 26 reviews; I love hidden object games but recommend playing them on a tablet or Chromebook and not a smaller device}

    ~ Today only with Target Cartwheel: Get 40% off Neutrogena Naturals Skincare

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    ~ New Ralphs/Kroger Instant Win Game {enter for a chance to win gift cards and coupons}

    ~ Passion for Savings: $25/$25 Kohl’s in-store coupon


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    Evening Roundup: Cheap deodorant, Free kids’ music & More

    Evening Roundup includes the best of the latest coupons, deals, and info I think you may find interesting. Prices and deals can change at any time so be sure to verify them before making your purchase. Please note this post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for using them! You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    - Use three of this printable coupon for $2/1 Speed Stick Gear deodorant at Target to get three deodorants for less than $1 after gift card offer

    - Amazon: Free MP3 download of Veggie Tales Silly Song Snack Pack

    - All You: Free sample of Dial 7-day moisturizing lotion

    - Krispy Kreme: Buy One Get One Free Original Dozen Doughnuts on 4/28

    - Money Saving Mom: Free Pretzelmaker pretzel on 4/26

    - Passion for Savings: Cheap Up & Up baby toiletries at Target

    - Hip2Save: Huggies diapers as low as $3.59/jumbo pack at Target

    - Printable Coupons: Rare Vidalia onions coupon


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    Reader Appreciation Giveaway: Mystery Box of Samples, Full-Size Products & Other Goodies

    Mystery Box Giveaway

    It’s time for another Mystery Box giveaway!

    Like previous Mystery Boxes, this one is full of samples, full-size products, and other surprises. It’s just another way for me to say, Thank you for reading CFO!

    The current Mystery Box is a USPS Medium Flat Rate Priority Mail box like the one pictured above, and contains all of the mystery items that will arrive at the winner’s doorstep. If that sounds like fun, simply follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway, and good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    RSS and email readers: Click here to reach the form.

    Use Your Taxes as Your Springboard

    This is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

    Spring cleaning isn’t just about decluttering your house and making everything all clean and sparkly. Spring cleaning is about taking stock of your life. It’s when you look at where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go. Yes, a lot of those ideas manifest in the clearing out of physical clutter, but it also manifests in other ways, like getting your finances back on track . . . or did you think that it was a coincidence that tax time happens in the spring?

    Okay, well, it probably is a coincidence, but let’s pretend that it’s all part of a bigger system, okay? It’ll make this post more fun.

    Starting Up: What Are You Bringing In?

    The most eye popping number on your tax forms isn’t the amount that you owe or the amount you’re getting back. The most important number on your tax forms is your earned income. Trust us: now that you have that number, everything else gets a lot easier.

    Step One: What Is Your Debt to Income Ratio?

    The best place to start here is with your bills. Gather together all of your utility bills, your credit card bills, your car loan and mortgage bills and any other payments you might be making. This will give you a black and white evaluation of what you’re spending at a minimum each year. Divide that amount by the amount of money you brought in. This will give you your debt-to-income-ratio.

    According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, you want a debt-to-income ratio that is below 43%. If your debt-to-income ratio is higher than 43%, you are more likely to have problems paying your bills on time. If the amount you pay out every year is higher than the amount you’re bringing in, that means that you are living on credit. Living on credit never goes well.

    Step Two: Lowering Your Debt to Income Ratio

    First – don’t be ashamed if your debt to income ratio is higher than 43% or even if you’re living on credit. What’s important isn’t what you did last year. What is important is what you are going to do this year. There are a few different approaches that you can take to reducing the amount of money you pay out every month (and year):

    1. Settle Your Debts.

    Settling your debts is where you work with a creditor to come up with a lump sum payment that is less than the full amount you owe but that you pay all at once to declare your commitment fulfilled.

    Sometimes you can do this yourself but it is usually better to work with a third party. Most creditors and debt holders prefer working with debt reduction specialists. They are also more likely to give you a better deal when you work with these companies and individuals than if you approach them on your own.

    2. Adjust your payments.

    Creditors and debtors want to keep your business. They would rather lower interest rates and forgive fees than have you close your account. Call them and ask them to work with you to make your debt repayment easier.

    3. Live on the Cheap

    Debts aren’t the only things eating up your annual income. Track your spending habits for a month or two and then evaluate: can you cut anything? There are lots of ways to live super frugally without having to give up the things you love. You just have to be creative.

    Remember: the goal is to be in a better financial position next year than you are this year. Even if you can’t get debt-free within the next twelve months, some progress is better than none!

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