Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Couponing Conundrum Part 1: Supermarket Savings

The wait is over! Finally . . . . a series of posts on the "how to's" of couponing.

Let me begin by saying that though I do have a pretty good grasp on this whole thing I do not know EVERYTHING there is to know about couponing, but I did have to learn it from somewhere. So, rather than reinvent the wheel, I will borrow excerpts from some of the trusted couponing blogs I follow and pass the info on to you. It may seem a little overwhelming at first but I PROMISE if you take a few minutes to educate yourself on the matter, it will save you money big time.

First off, lets talk about the logic/strategy of couponing and how you can use it to your advantage in the grocery stores.

Posted by the ladies at Southern Savers:

Have you tried couponing but felt that it was not helping any? There is a better way than just using a coupon whenever you buy an item.

First, couponing isn’t just cutting your paper up and handing over a few coupons every now and then. If that is what you think, then you will save $5 or $10 dollars and become discouraged that it is not worth your time.

True couponing is cutting those coupons from your paper and then saving them until the product you want to buy is on sale. Doing this you can get items for 50-100% off regular price (yes that’s right – FREE).

How?? It is really putting two concepts together:

1. Product prices fluctuate on cycles normally 6-8 weeks long. When an item is at its lowest price in that cycle you want to buy enough of that item to get you through until it comes back on sale. An example, your family eats 1 box of cereal a week, so you buy 6 boxes when it is on sale to get you through the sale cycle.

2. When it is a rock bottom price you use your coupons to reduce the price even lower. Grab some extra copies of coupons that you will use a lot of by purchasing more papers, getting friends papers, or buying the individual coupons online.

That’s the basics! Pretty simple and yet so many of us have never put these things together.

If I don’t have you convinced let me spell it out with money.

You can buy 1 box every week for 6 weeks, or buy all 6 boxes on sale.
1 box @ $4.50 x 6 weeks = $27

1 box @ $1 x 6 boxes = $6

That’s one product and you have saved $21. Now think of the other 200 products that the average family buys a month. Even if you didn’t have coupons for all of your items, if you wait until the product is on sale to purchase it you are still saving.

Want some more tips to save even more?

1. Cut ALL coupons or Save all inserts from the Sunday paper. If you save the entire insert to cut as needed make sure you mark the date on insert so that you can find it when you see a coupon can be used. (I didn't understand this at first but now I've seen why. Sometimes there will be a good deal on certain things that will make them free plus overage. Even if I don't need the item, I will get it just for the overage. For example, a while back there were 3 great coupons to be used all together on Revlon beauty tools (nail clippers, emery boards, etc.) Using all 3 coupons made the items FREE, PLUS $3 of overage per item. Now that is a deal. Get a couple of them and that has paid for your milk, bread, eggs and anything else you want. See the reasoning? Needless to say, the homeless shelter got a big donation of nail care stuff. He he he.)

2. Start to shop buying only the things that are on sale and using your coupons then. Also when an item is on sale you STOCKPILE. Some sites recommend 12 weeks worth because that is the common time it takes for an item to come back on sale. Thats great if you have the space, if not get enough that if you shop at two different stores you can hold off until it goes on sale at the other store. Once you have a good stockpile you will only be shopping for sale items and never having to pay non sale prices. Also once you pay an amazing price for something like .90 cents for cereal you will not want to have to pay the regular price ever again.

3. Make a menu for the week based on what is on sale that week at the store. An example being don’t plan fish when no one has it on sale and you are paying top dollar.

4. If you know that you are going on a trip or having a special event in the future start a separate stockpile early for those items so that you are not paying top dollar just because you are on vacation for your groceries. Paying $3 for 5 12pks of Coke at CVS a month before a trip is much better than paying 4.50 a 12pk once you get to the beach!!

5. Give up what brand loyalties you are able. Scenario: You have a good coupon that makes the Old Elpaso beans .10 cents but you have always bought a different brand. If you want to pay the full price for the other can go for it, but I’ll use my coupon. If Herbal Essences shampoo is .20 cents a bottle it can’t hurt to give it a try.

6. No house brands are NOT the best deal. National brand items bought on sale with coupons become incredibly cheaper than house brand items. That was a hard lesson to learn after years of automatically grabbing the house brand item. If you can buy house brand butter for 2.49 or get Land o Lakes butter for .80… thats not hard math. Remember a store wants you to buy their house brand because they keep all the money, they will try to make it seem like a deal but your interests are not what they have at heart.

7. Shopping at Costco and Sams will become a thing of the past mostly. I get dairy items there that do not have coupons often or are rarely on sale. Most of the time though buying the 4 boxes of cereal for $10 at Sams never compares to getting 4 boxes for 2.50 (the average price of cereal when bought correctly is .70-.90 cents). Personal Care items that could be a good deal can’t even touch being FREE at CVS.

I was one of those people that initially thought I was wasting my time even attempting to coupon. But when you see the logic and strategy behind it, it makes total sense. Then, when you start to see the major savings, you kick yourself for not getting into couponing earlier. :0)


Mindy said...

I just had Angie give me a little lesson a few days ago, I have lots to learn. Its kind of tricky! I can't believe some of the deals you get. Jess! Good job!

Lisa said...

Okay, this is pretty convincing. I think I really will try it this time.