Last week, I shared some benchmarks of prices I like to pay for common grocery items. These prices represent the most I want to pay for a product, regardless of brand. These often are post-sale, post-coupon prices. I follow my stores’ pricing cycles and aim to buy when a product is cycling low in price. When an item is not on sale, its non-sale price is often twice as high as the lowest sale price, so I aim to buy when the price hits its lowest point. Of course, I’ll also use coupons whenever possible.
Laundry detergent: I realize there is a wide variety of laundry detergent out there, and this seems to be the one item that polarizes people when I teach couponing workshops. I can’t tell you how often I hear “but I must use [Favorite Name Brand] detergent!” There are so many laundry detergent deals to be had each month. What I do is buy both the bargain brands and the premium brands, and I have a mix of them in my laundry room. If I’m washing something that might benefit from extra stain removers or odor-removing technology, I’ll use that. If I’m washing garage towels or the dog’s bed, the bargain detergent will do just fine. After coupons and sales, I aim to pay $1.50 or less for a 45-ounce bottle of name-brand detergent.
Body wash and bar soap: I aim to pay less than 99 cents per bottle of body wash and less than 25 cents per individual bar of soap.
Dish detergent: I aim to pay about 7 cents per ounce of liquid dish detergent. Keep in mind that often times the smaller bottles end up being a better per-ounce price than the larger bottles.
Household cleaners: I aim to pay $1.50 or less for glass cleaner, bath and kitchen spray cleaners and cleaning wipes.
Oral care: If you’re a regular coupon user, chances are you’ve gotten more than a tube or two of free toothpaste during your coupon “career.” Toothpaste is one of those items that is free fairly often, simply because it’s at a low price point to begin with and there are many high-value coupons. This month, I got some $2 coupons for a popular brand of toothpaste, and I’m just waiting for a $1.99 sale.
Dental floss is another item for which I rarely pay – there are many coupons available for it, and it’s on sale often. I would not pay more than 50 cents after a coupon. Mouthwash generally is a great deal at large drugstore chains. I aim to pay around $1.50 per bottle.
Shaving products: If you’re not terribly brand-specific, you can get good deals on razors, both disposable and cartridges. I aim to pay $1 or less for a package of disposable razors and $3 or less for a premium, cartridge razor. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s very rare to find a good deal on replacement blades or cartridges. This is due to the “razor blade business model,” in which companies sell you razors at a hefty discount (especially) with coupons, then charge you much more for the replacement blades. While it may not be the environmentally friendly thing to do, the financially economical thing to do is to continue getting bargain razors with coupons and sales versus paying for cartridges.
If you’re wondering how to know when a product’s sale price is really a good, stock-up price, look at the non-sale price of the same item. When the sale price, or the sale price plus a coupon totals half the non-sale price, then you know it’s time to buy. For example, a razor that sells for $7.99 is now on sale for $4.99. With a $3 coupon, I buy it for $1.99. I know $1.99 is a great price, because anything below the $4 mark is a good price for this razor. My goal is to cut the price of an item in half. With sale and coupon, I took the razor home for 75 percent off of its regular price.