Couponing 101: When to Stock Up

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You’ve already learned how to use coupons to get the most bang for your buck.  Sale Price + Manufacturer Coupon + Store Coupon = Good Deal.  Sounds simple enough.

But you may be left wondering what exactly constitutes a rock-bottom price.  The way I like to think of it:  If I can get four to six of a particular item for less than the regular price of one, I’m stocking up.

In Crystal Paine’s The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, she suggests making a price book.

  • Make a list of about 25 items you regularly buy.
  • Go to a few (two to four) stores that you frequent, and record the regular prices of those 25 products.
  • Determining which stores have the best regular prices will help you to know who will have the lowest prices once you factor in a sale and coupons.

The super-frugal Krazy Coupon Ladies have taken that idea a step further, and compiled a list of stock-up-worthy prices that you may want to print and keep in your coupon binder to use as a guideline.  (You won’t find everything you need on there, but it’s a good fantastic start!)

If you look at that list, you’ll notice that many of the values represent price per unit, not price per package.  Extreme couponing is all about getting the most for your money, which means you will usually be looking to buy multiples of the smallest items.

For example, let’s say you have four coupons for $1.00/1 Colgate toothpaste, and it’s on sale at Walmart.  If the 5.2 oz. packages are marked down to $1.50, and the 4 oz. packages are $1.00, you would want to buy four 4 oz. tubes because you would get 16 oz. of toothpaste for free (vs. 20.8 oz. for $2.00, or nearly $0.10 per ounce).

Let’s look at another hypothetical situation.  Say your $1.00/1 Colgate coupon does not exclude travel- or trial-sized items.  If the 4 oz. tubes are more than $1.00, but the trial-sized tubes are $1.00 or less, you want to get the trial-sized toothpaste.

This line of thinking can be applied in nearly any situation.  When using coupons, buying multiples of items in the smallest quantities typically yields the most savings.  Always calculate the price per unit (ounce, pound, piece, etc.) to be sure that you’re getting the best deal.

Helpful tip:  don’t forget to check the clearance section!  You’ll be amazed at some of the steals you can find when you apply your coupon to the clearance price.

As always, if you have questions, leave them in the comments, and I’ll help you to the best of my ability.  In the next Couponing 101 “lesson,” we’ll discuss how to know in advance what sales you can expect. 

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