Jan 27, 2010

Drugstore Game Padawan Update: The Important of a Price Book

If you're just tuning in, I'm mentoring Nicole in The Drugstore Game. If you've always wanted to play but weren't sure how to get started, follow along with Nicole as she becomes a Drugstore Game Master. You can read all of the posts in this series here, in reverse chronological order. Please read my Drugstore Game Primer and Common Sense with Money's FAQ to get an overview of the Drugstore Game and definitions.

A price book is simply a list of the price per unit of items you use regularly. For instance, my price book has an entry for trash bags, and shows that last May, I bought a box of 45 bags at Pavilions for $5.99, using a $1 off coupon during a "get a $10 catalina coupon for a future purchase when you buy $30 of qualifying products" promotion. So after the $10 catalina, which was basically a 33% off discount, the box of trash bags was $4.01. After the $1 coupon, I paid $3.01 for 45 bags, or 6.7 cents per bag.

That price is now my target price for trash bags, and since I bought approximately twelve boxes last May, I’ve only bought trash bags since then if they cost less than 6.7 cents per bag. (Which has only happened twice.)

I’ve previously written a more detailed explanation about price books, and reiterated their importance. But I’m not sure that I can emphasize the value of a price book enough.

This week’s Drugstore Game Padawan planning is a good example. Nicole has expressed interest in the Fiber One and Revlon deals. The Fiber One deal is for a double pack of bars: buy a bonus pack for $6.99 and get $3 ECBs. The Revlon deal is buy $15 worth of cosmetics and get $7 ECBs.
Both deals will cost money, because there’s no $/$$ coupon, like the $5 off $20 purchase coupon that was available for a short time last week. So then the question becomes, are the items worth the money?

The only way to know for sure if something is a great deal is by keeping a price book.

I know, based on past experience, that it’s possible to get Fiber One bars for $1 or less per box of 5 at the grocery store, by combining sales and coupons. The picture of the bars in the ad is fuzzy, but it looks like two boxes of 5 bars for a total "cost" of $3.99. There was a 40 cents/1 coupon in the 1/3 GM, which would bring the cost down to $3.59, or $1.80 per box.

If Nicole wants those bars right away, and there isn’t a better sale going on right now, then she may want to spend $1.80 per box. But, knowing that a better deal may be right around the corner, she may decide to wait.

Unfortunately, I can’t help her with the Revlon deal because I don’t know much about makeup. I have no idea if the deal is a good one or not, or if there are often better sales.

And that’s something everyone has to deal with when they first start playing The Drugstore Game or pursuing any kind of deal regularly. It’s impossible to know if a price is low without comparing it to another price. And the only way to know more than one price is to look around.

I created my first price book in 2001, and after I had my target prices memorized, I abandoned it. Two years ago, when prices on many items were rising, I went back to basics and started a new price book (click through to see how I minimized the work).

It may take some time to create a price book, but you’ll save a lot of money by having one.

Note: An anonymous commenter kindly pointed out that the Target web site has a manufacturer's coupon for $1/1 Almay, to go with the scenario I posted yesterday. And Adrienne, who works at CVS, kindly reported that the Bonus ECB UPC code only has to be scanned once during the promo period - but get it scanned as soon as possible, because the bonus will not be applied retroactively.


Anonymous said...

Your kind Anonymous poster would also like you to know that target has mfg revlon eye coupons for $1 off so one computer will print 2 saving $2 off the deal and if she has access to another computer she can print one more coupon. This will lower her total out of pocket (after ecb) to $5 for 3 eye compacts or $1.67 each when they are regularly $6.99 each. --Kim

Chief Family Officer said...

Thanks, Kim! I'll make sure Nicole knows :)