- Know the stores you have in your area and their coupon policies. I have some major chain stores and their coupon policies listed here. In my area I have Kroger, Publix, and Ingles for my main grocery stores. I also have CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, and Aldi. Kroger has great 10 for $10 sale and send me Kroger store coupons frequently in the mail. Their overall price is the lowest on most items even not on sale so I do most of my main shopping there. But Publix offers many BOGO free items each week, which when doubled with a coupon can make many things very cheap or even free. Both Kroger and Publix double coupons $.50 or less. At Publix I can also use competitor coupons (such as Rite Aid or Kroger coupons) AND I can use 1 Publix store coupon and 1 manufacturer coupon on 1 item. I rarely shop at Ingles because their coupon policy can be frustrating. At Ingles, they will only double (or triples during triple weeks) 3 coupons per $10.00! When my grocery budget is only $40 - that would mean only 12-15 coupons doubled and there are many times that I will use twice that many coupons and pay much less than $40.00.
- Get rainchecks if an item is out of stock. I have to do this often at Publix on their BOGO deals. You just ask at customer service and they give you a sheet of paper with the sale price listed and you can get the time at the sale price the next time you are in the store.
- Know the way store sales work. When stores list items as "Buy one, Get one free" you usually don't have to buy 2 items - each item will ring up at 1/2 price. (This does not work at CVS - you must buy 2 items to get the discounted price.) Also when stores run itmes 10 for $10.00 or 3 for $5.00, you don't to buy 10 items or 3 items. If you buy 1 item at the 10 for $10 price each one will ring up for $1.00; if you buy 1 item at 3 for $5.00 price, each one will ring up for $1.67.
- Monitor prices and know when an item is at the lowest price. Store sales rotate on about a 12 week cycle. Cereal might be on sale this week for 2 for $4.00, but at some point in the next few weeks it will be on sale for 3 for $5.00 ($1.67). And that 3 for $5.00 sale will come around again in 10 -12 weeks. So buy it when it is on the lowest price sale and you will save money. And when you use a coupon and the item is at the lowest price you will save even more! Let's say you have a coupon for $1.00/2 boxes of cereal making the final price $4 for 3 boxes or $1.33 each.
- "Stockpile" items when they are at the lowest price. Ok, so now you know that an item you use frequently is at the lowest price and you have a coupon for it. So you could buy 1 or 2 enough for that week and then when you need it again you would have to buy it the more expensive price. So you should buy enough for about 10 weeks when it will be at the rock bottom price again.
Let's do an example of the cereal scenario listed above to show you how much you can save. You use 2 boxes of cereal each week.
- You buy 2 boxes each week when you go to the store regardless of price (I will use the 2/$4.00 price) 52 weeks x $4.00 = $208.
- Now let's say that you stock up when the cereal is on sale for 3/$5.00 buying enough each time for the following weeks until it goes on sale again. 52 x (2 boxes at $1.67 ea.) $3.34 = $173.68. That is a savings of $34.32/year on just one item on your list!
- Now let's say you buy the cereal at 3/$5.00 price stocking up AND using the $1.00/3 coupon making the price per box $1.33. 52 weeks x $2.66 = $138.32. That is a savings of $69.68/year from just buying cereal each week when you shop and a savings of $35.36/year from buying it on sale but not using any coupons. Now this is just for one item on your grocery list - imagine if you did this for 40 or 50 items - this is how you can save lots of money using coupons and shopping at the lowest price.
Ok, so now are you ready to go shopping and save money? Check back later this week as I will be explaining how use coupons and play the "drugstore game at CVS" to save money and even get many things for FREE!