Friday, January 30, 2009

Q & A

From an email...

Coupon Clipper: I have a question for you, oh coupon goddess. I always calculate the price per unit, always use coupons, do stockpiling – I have all of the basic components of couponing “down”. I have more to learn – which I do want to do in your class by the way... but, I digress.

Here is my question. When you are going through the flyers on Sunday and analyzing what to buy and your coupons, etc, how do you know which store is cheaper for an item? I sometimes see a disparity of pricing on various items between Kroger and Meijer, for instance.

There is no consistent “this store is cheaper” either – it can really vary item to item. So, if you are looking at the Meijer flyer, for instance, and you see something that is on sale, and you have a coupon, etc and you put it on your list, how do you track/remember that Meijer is the best for that item originally.

And then, at the same time, how do you track Costco into that same pricing equation. For instance, I know the price of cheese sticks at Costco. They were on sale 50% off at Meijer and I had no coupon, but the price didn’t bring them down to the Costco price. Had I not just bought at Costco the day before and remembered, then I would have paid more because I was attracted to that 50% off sale sign. I do have a way of tracking it now, and it is time-consuming and cumbersome. Any help/thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Me: Keeping track of specific items to always get the best price is done most efficiently and effectively with a price book (google it).

A price book is individually kept by the shopper, and is used to record prices of most frequently purchased items and each store's "best price" before sales and coupons. When an item is needed, the price book can be referenced to remind the shopper of where he/she should use his/her coupons- or at least purchase the specific item.

I personally do not use a price book because we have very few items that we are "Brand Loyal" to. An example of being "brand Loyal" is meaning that we will only accept Crest toothpaste for our pearly whites. In reality, we will gladly use several brands of toothpaste.

As for non-branded items, like cheese in general, I will purchase these when I feel like they are a good bargain. Cheese prices have fluctuated so much over the past two years (I have fond memories of Kroger's 10 for $10 cheese sales) that I purchase large quantities at a time to be able to hold out for the next, at least decent, sale.

I have decided not to keep a price book personally- instead I have made it a habit to purchase 95% of my items at "all star" prices. I am not willing to kill myself over every single purchase.

For example, our family eats a lot of oatmeal... and I like the convenience of the individual packets, and recently I have purchased 7 boxes. I previously paid about $1 per box, so when I was running low (about 3 boxes left) I decided to start looking for a good deal. I purchased 4 boxes at Walgreen's when they were $1.99 and used (4) $1 coupons = $.99/box, and I purchased 3 boxes at Super Kroger during last weeks sale, scoring them for FREE with my $1 coupons getting doubled. So I now have 70 breakfasts for $3.96.

So my aim will always be to only pay about $1 per box. I won't go crazy over finding the absolute best of the best price, but I will keep in mind a ballpark figure to shoot for.

As for Costco, we do have a membership but we rarely use it unless we are having a party and we are serving meat. Most items, if you are patient in waiting for coupons, will be a lot less expensive at the drug or grocery store when you match a sale price with coupons. The exclusion would be for items that you rarely are able to find a coupon for. These items you will just need to price out per unit and decide whether you should visit Costco.

And for your cheese sticks- which we don't buy because I'd scarf them down like nobodies business- if you find a great sale... stock up!

I hope this info is helpful!



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