If you missed the last installment, reader Lenny asked some wonderful questions about couponing and I decided it would be best to break them up into a few posts. Click here to view the last post.
Today, we’ll delve into the second part of Lenny’s question:
I think my main question at the moment is when to know the best time to use your coupon is, trying to utilize it at the lowest price offered over a given period of time.
This is a great question and very easy to answer. Coupons should be thought of as a deck of cards, and like in the game of poker, you have to wait for a great hand to pop up in order to win big. One of the biggest mistakes that beginners make is they get the Sunday paper, they see the coupon and then use it right away on a product that isn’t even on sale. To attain that perfect hand, you have to hold on the coupons and wait to use them when a price is at rock bottom or close to it.
How do you know if it’s rock bottom? Keep a price list. When you get the circular for your store each week, take out a notebook and write down the prices of the items you use the most. Do this every week for 12 weeks. This is called a sales cycle. Prices tend to circulate in a 12 week rotation, so within that 12 weeks you will see the lowest price those items will reach at least once. Once you know your sales cycles, you’ll know how long you need to hold on to those great coupons.
The best part about being a frugal shopper these days is that if you don’t have time to do all of this, there is someone on the internet that is willing to do it for you. Sites that list coupon match ups(like I do for ShopRite) keep track of sales cycles, and the best ones will let you know when you need to stock up on items, even meat and produce. Please take advantage of these sites. It will save you some sanity and help to get you acclimated to using coupons at the right times. The main equation for extreme savings is: saved coupon+lowest price= free or cheap items.