In my last column, I explained how to use supermarket price cycles to your advantage. Whenever I see a product’s regular, non-sale price advertised on a shelf tag, I aim to cut that price in half — either with a sale, a coupon or the combination of both. For example, consider a $4.99 bottle of shampoo. When that shampoo goes on sale for $2.99, it’s getting much closer to the half-price mark. If I can cut that price further with a $2 coupon, I’m taking the shampoo home for 99 cents — about a fifth of this product’s non-sale price.
Here are some ways to think about furthering your spending power at the store.
1. Size matters.
You will find that buying the smaller size of a product is often the better financial deal. This fact does seem to go against everything we believe about the way we shop. Consider this though: A coupon can often take a larger “bite” out of the price of a small product than a large one.
A recent laundry detergent sale is a perfect example of this. My local supermarket had 32-load bottles, regularly $4.49, on sale for $1.79. I had a $1 coupon for this brand, which dropped the price to 79 cents! This works out to about 3 cents per load. However, the same brand of detergent is available in multiple sizes. If I used the same $1 coupon on the 94-load size, which sells for $12.99, I would pay $11.99. Buying the larger bottle works out to almost 13 cents per load.
This holds true for many products. Regular-sized boxes of cereal are often better financial deals, ounce per ounce, than buying the larger “family size” boxes. Three-bar packs of soap are often much cheaper per bar, with a coupon, than buying 10-bar packages of bar soap.
2. Utilize Buy One Get One Free sales to your advantage.
It’s worth researching your store’s coupon policy to find out how they handle Buy One Get One Free sales. Some stores allow you to use one coupon on each item in the sale – even the free one. You may be wondering why you would want to use a coupon on a free item if it’s already free. Here’s an example: A bottle of lotion is on sale for $4.99, Buy One Get One Free. If I have two $2 coupons for the lotion, and my store allows me to use both, that $4.99 price for two dropped 99 cents for two.
Some stores also allow you to “split” a Buy One Get One Free sale. Instead of the first item ringing up at $4.99 and the second item ringing up at $0, each item rings up at about half the price: The first item scans at $2.50 and the second one rings at $2.49. If you only have one coupon, and it isn’t to your advantage to buy two, you could simply buy one half-priced item and use your $2coupon on that one. You’d pay 50 cents for one, and leave the “free” one on the shelf.
Check your store’s coupon policy on their website for specific information about how your store handles Buy One Get One Free sales.
3. Use shopping blogs to your advantage.
If you need help spotting the best coupon deals, you’re not alone. Fortunately, many other people share your love of getting a great deal, and coupon bloggers around the country regularly post everything from hot, time-sensitive deals to entire weekly shopping lists, often with meal plans. Do a quick search for coupon bloggers that cover the retailers you shop most often, and let someone else do the heavy lifting for you. It’s much easier to let someone else virtually hold your hand and point out the best deals, items to buy and coupons to use. I blog grocery and drugstore deals each week at JillCataldo.com, and you’re always welcome to utilize the shopping lists I create each week for my readers.