Jessica Crowe of TheHappyCoupner.com frequently ends her sentences with, “...and even if it's on sale, don't buy it unless you have a coupon!” For National Coupon Month, she's answering some of her frequently asked questions. Today, the question is: How do you know when it's time to stockpile an item?
Understanding the sales cycle
Most stores have regular, planned sales cycles. An item will be at its regular price for a few weeks and then it will be featured at a sale price for a week, then back to the regular price for a few more weeks, then back to the sale price again.
Every three or four months the price drops even lower than that typical sale price. So a typical sales cycle for an item that's regularly priced at $1.99 might go something like this: Four weeks at $1.99, one week at $1.79, four weeks at $1.99, one week at $1.19, and then back to $1.99.
Manufacturers also have a regular, planned promotion cycle for printing coupons. For example, you'll see a $3 coupon for BIC razors almost every three months like clockwork.
Should you buy a little or a lot?
“Once you start couponing consistently you'll notice start picking up on these sales trends,” says Crowe. “I always tell my readers they should never buy something that's on sale unless they also have a coupon, because it's inevitable – there will be a coupon and it will coincide with a sale.”
The key to maximizing your coupon savings is knowing your sales cycles.
“We spend the most money when we run out of a staple and have to buy it at full price. If you know the cycle for each of the staples you use in your home, you can use coupons to stack with sale prices and buy either enough to last the full three-month cycle or buy enough to last until that next really big price break.”
How do you predict sales cycles?
“There's no easy answer,” says Crowe. “Spend some time making a thorough list of everything you buy on a regular basis. And I mean everything. Canned goods, paper products, health and beauty aids, even fresh meats and produce. Then, take that list with you when you do your shopping and start tracking prices.”
“It might take you a full 6 months or more to get a handle on each item's sales cycle but it's well worth the effort. Once you know when everything you buy is at the rock-bottom price and how frequently that's going to happen, it's easy to start shaving hundreds of dollars off your grocery bill every month.”
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