Couponing is all about timing. Using coupons can save you money regardless of when you use them, but if you strategically shop then you will make the most of your coupons.
I used to clip out coupons and carry them around in my purse in an envelope. I would comparison shop at the grocery store but I felt that the generic store brand would cost just a few cents less than the name brand with the coupon. It felt like I wasn’t really saving much.
Then I learned about how to really coupon. Wait for the sale, then pounce! Items will usually go on sale in three month cycles and in yearly cycles. So if you are patient you can wait until the item you need goes on sale and then pair it with a coupon for even deeper savings. And to maximize this strategy you can stock up on that sale item so that you will have enough of it to last you and your family through until the next sale.
How do you find those sales though?
Well, first, let’s look at the seasonal sale cycles. Usually these work according to holidays and seasonal foods. In January lots of health foods will be on sale. In February and March it’s frozen and canned foods. May through July have dairy on sale as well as BBQ foods and sports drinks. August and September are back to school time and lunch meats, chips, and snack foods are on sale. October-December have lots of candy and baking goods on sale, as well as other holiday foods. You can see the Krazy Coupon Lady post on sales cycles here.
Grocery stores will usually release new sale circulars/advertisements a few days before their sales begin and the sales usually run Wednesday – Tuesday. Drug stores usually run their sales Sunday – Saturday. If you subscribe to the newspaper you will probably get these sale circulars in your weekend paper along with the Smart Source, Red Plum, and Proctor & Gamble coupon inserts. You also may get the circular delivered to you during the week in another Red Plum advertising insert. If you really want to get the circular early you can go to your local grocery or drug store’s website, such as www.safeway.com, www.riteaid.com, www.giantfood.com, www.cvs.com, as they will usually post the circular and sale items online.
Peruse the sale circlar to see what is on sale that week that you normally buy and what the best deals are. The first page will usually have the deepest discounts because these are “loss leaders”, sales which the company loses money on that are designed to get customers in the door. When you see a sale item you are interested in flip to that section of your coupon binder to see if you have any coupons for that item. If you do then you’ve just scored yourself a deal! Determine how many of that item to get based on your number of coupons, your family’s needs, and whether the sale + coupon makes it a stock-up price. Stock up prices are rock bottom prices at which you should purchase multiples to get the best deal. Remember, food prices vary from place to place so stock up prices vary.
In addition to making your own coupon matchups, I find that coupon blogs websites such as Krazy Coupon Lady, Money Saving Mom, Coupon Mom, Hip2Save, Living Rich With Coupons, I Am That Lady offer extensive matchups. These often work well for national chains but sometimes prices differ. Some local coupon blogs in the DC area are Beltway Bargain Mom, Moneywise Moms, Frugally Blonde, and Capitally Frugal. I also post coupon matchups here on Earning My Two Cents.
Coupon matchups will list, using coupon lingo, coupon matchups for the store’s weekly deals. The matchup will include the specific product and size, the sale price, which coupon to use, and the final price. Sometimes there will be limits on the number of sale items you can buy and your store may limit the number of coupons you use per transaction, so make sure you know your store’s coupon policy. Also, check out your store’s website to see if the store has electronic coupons (eCoupons) which you can load onto your card. Safeway has great eCoupons on their website and has store coupons in addition to manufacturer coupons so there’s no need to cut out the weekly sale coupon from the circular.
In addition to sales, look for ways that you can “stack” coupons. Coupon stacking is where you use a store coupon (issued by that particular store) in conjunction with a manufacturer coupon (issued by the product manufacturer) for a single item. This is the only time when you can use more than one coupon on a single item. The above photo is of a Safeway store coupon. The store coupon acts as a $1.00 off coupon on Tide or Tide Stain Release. This store coupon can be used in conjunction with a manufacturer coupon for Tide or Tide Stain release. So if you have a $3.00 off coupon for Tide, then you can stack it with the $1.00 store coupon and pay only $2.99 for Tide (rather than the $6.99 regular price). Read each store’s coupon policy because different stores have different guidelines. Rite Aid, for example, allows you to stack manufacturer coupons with store coupons from their weekly advertising circulars, but also allows you to triple stack those coupons with Rite Aid video values coupons from the Rite Aid website. So that’s three coupons on one item!
Matching up deals and pouncing when they are at rock bottom prices…..now you’re couponing! If you want more help with couponing check out Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey: Save Big Money and Make the Grocery Aisle Your Catwalk, The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bill in Half, and The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands A Year.