Friday, March 12, 2010

Five Things You Should Never Pay Full Price For

A penny saved is a penny earned.  

Never has that statement been more true.  With prices rising and sizes shrinking, we have to make the most of every dollar.  There are many products you buy regularly that you can get without paying full price.  Here are my top 5:

1. Paper/Plastic Products
2. Toiletries/Personal Care Items 
3. Sodas
4. Cleaning Products
5. Cereal

For this writing, we are not talking about generics or store brands, although these are often a better buy from a regular price standpoint. Today we are focusing on name brand products from the major area grocery stores.

Every week the competing grocery stores put out new sale ads, usually on Wednesdays. Nearly every Sunday there are one or more coupon inserts in the newspaper.  If you take a few minutes to look through the grocery sales, and match up coupons to the sale items you can often save 50% or more.

I have found the biggest money savers to be the buy one get one free sales.  In many stores you are not required to purchase two items, and each one will ring up individually.  At this point the item is already 50% off.  Add a coupon and your discount increases.  If your store will allow it, you can use two coupons on a BOGOF item.  If not, then just purchase them in two separate transactions to get the greatest savings.

Some stores go a step further and double or triple coupons up to a set amount.  They usually have a per-day limit of around 20 coupons.  Of the stores I write about, Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods double coupons every day, and Harris Teeter occasionally has triple coupon or super double coupon weeks.  Food Lion does not double coupons at any time.

Quite often items such as paper goods and cleaning products are BOGOF or maybe 2/$5.  For example, if the regular price for a bottle of kitchen cleaner is $3.29, a 2/$5 sale makes it $2.50 or 79¢ cheaper.  That same item on a BOGOF sale would be $1.64.  Use a $1 off coupon and you get it for just 64¢.  This is the effective way to use your coupons.  The $1 coupon used at the regular price would still make your item $2.29.  You see the difference.

This same concept applies to nearly everything, and coupons are readily available on most items.  One key to making the most of sales and coupons is your ability or willingness to switch brands depending on the deal available.  Brand loyalty goes right out the window here.

However, if you're like me and have favorite brands on certain products, cereal for example, then you clip the coupons and wait for the sale. Our faves are Frosted Mini Wheats (his) and Raisin Bran Extra (hers).  There are often coupons for these, sometimes as much as $1.50 off 2 boxes.  I've gotten Mini Wheats for as little as 50¢ a box.  In this instance, I combined a BOGOF sale with two coupons which were doubled.  I will tell you that great finds like that do not come along every week.  This is where your ability to stock up will take you further down the road of savings. 

If you drink soda, you know that coupons for them are rare.  The price of all brand-name soft drinks has been steadily increasing.  They are now around $6 per 12-pack in the grocery stores.  Most stores have one brand on sale each week, but we are seeing the good sales less often.  Common sale prices range from 3/$9, which is about half price, to 3/$12.  A good price is 4/$10 or $2.50 each, and anything less than $2.50 is a real deal.  So don't be fooled by the BOGOF sales on sodas, pay attention to the regular shelf price, and you'll know when you're getting a good deal.

A little disclaimer:  I like to use the term BOGOF instead of BOGO.  To me this emphasizes that one item is free as opposed to sales such as "Buy one get one for half off" which are also referred to as BOGO.

4 comments:

  1. Linda -- Thanks for the tips about the things I shouldn't pay full price for.

    I amazed you actually got a box of Mini-Wheats for 50 cents!!! That's awesome:~)

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're welcome Sara. As a rule, I try not to pay full price for much of anything. There are times to spurge, of course, but even then I'm looking for the best deal.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Usually in Europe (UK and France) coupons for BOGOF or reductions are explicitly marked "you cannot combine this promotion with other coupons" or words to that effect. Surprised that your article says you can in fact do this - it obviously works for you in the US.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Fruey- Thank you for visiting. Sometimes coupons, especially those for restaurants, will say that. What I'm talking about here is using a store sale where they offer products on sale at buy one get one free. You are certainly free to use manufacturers coupons on top of these sale prices. There are couponing websites that help you learn how to do this. "Hip2Save" is a popular one. Some stores even double the manufacturers coupons.

    ReplyDelete

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