The Washington Times-Herald

Food

December 8, 2011

Coupon Discipline: Wait a Little, Save a Lot

Montgomery. AL — When you first start couponing, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by sales cycles, sales-to-coupon matching and expiration dates. It’s definitely a big shift from the “old” way of shopping – buying what you want or need for the current week, regardless of price. This week we hear from a couponing newbie.

Question:

“As a new couponer, I am trying to do my best to save some money for the family. After I made my first purchase with coupons, I realized I might not be using them for optimal savings.”

Answer:

This is one of the most common mistakes new coupon shoppers make. They get the newspaper, cut out the coupons and take those coupons to the store in the same week. With a few exceptions, the week a coupon appears in the paper is typically not the best week to use it.

Why not? In order to get the most value from coupons, it’s important to realize that prices of products in stores fluctuate in a fairly consistent pattern. Savvy coupon shoppers never pay the regular, non-sale price for an item they wish to buy. They understand that from week to week, the price of an item will vary widely. Sale prices can dip as deep as 50 to 65 percent off the regular price; clearly, this is the best time to buy that item if you want it. Move in with a coupon, and you cut that already good price even more.

When I teach the concept of sales cycling to students in my Super-Couponing workshop, some of them seem to have trouble grasping the idea that prices really do change that much at the grocery store. They assume that a pack of paper towels or a half-gallon of juice costs about the same every day. But that’s not true. Here’s an easy analogy to help drive this point home.

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