So here is the next step in learning to coupon for those that are following along.
You will want to create some sort of price book. The point of this is to determine what YOUR best price is for products so you have a handle on when to buy a little extra product to get you through to the next sale.
Price books are very individual things because so much will depend on where you live, if you have double or triple coupons and the stores available to you. Here are a few examples to show why price books are such a personal thing- note these are just examples not deals that are currently available.
Recently Safeway stores ran a sale on ketchup. If you live in Northern CA, the deal looks like this:
Heinz Ketchup $1.69
Use $.25 coupon (coupons do not double in my area)
Final Price: $1.44
Not a good deal really. But if you happen to live in MD:
Heinz Ketchup $1.69
Use $.50/1 coupon (exact same coupon insert but the value was higher on the East Coast and this coupon doubles)
Final Price: $.69
So again this is the same chain of stores and the exact same sales circular and the exact same coupon inserts but you can see by living in my city, I would have paid double the price for this product as someone on the East Coast.
Here is another example using Safeway stores once again:
Haribo Gummy Bears are $1.00/bag
There was a $.30/1 coupon available
If you lived in my city, the price would be $.70 after coupon
If you live in an area with doubles, the price is $.40 after coupon
If you live in TX, where they have triples, the price is $.10 after coupon
So hopefully this helps clarify why you really want to figure out the best prices in your area for grocery items in particular. A stock up price for me might be $.70 on candy but for someone in Dallas it might be .10 and you can see why from the example above.
Now how to go about creating your price book... I would encourage you to spend as little or as much time as you want on this project. Really the main goal is to just become more conscience of prices at your stores on the stuff you buy most often.
You can just get a tiny notebook and start jotting down the prices on the products you buy most often. After about 6 weeks you should finally start to see the lowest those products will hit. Once you get a handle on that, just start to narrow down the items you buy from week to week. Rather than buying product x once a week and paying whatever they charge, you wait for product x to hit the lowest it will go and buy extra to last you for 1 or maybe 2 months.
I have a “price book” that is located right upstairs in my head. I just sort of remember what I like to pay for things and it is that simple. For example, before I started using coupons, if I needed chicken, I would buy chicken. I don’t think I ever paid attention to the price. I needed chicken and that was that. Now I know that the lowest price on a good quality fresh boneless, skinless chicken breast is about $1.88/lb or less. So when chicken hits that price I buy a little extra to get me through a few weeks until it goes on sale again. I just know all this stuff after shopping deals and using coupons for awhile- it really becomes second nature.
If you are new to this process or like to have things more buttoned down, I am attaching an excel spreadsheet with my current “buy” prices as a stepping stone. I do not have double coupons or any of the incredible grocery stores like Kroger and Publix in my city so hopefully your prices are significantly lower.
I would encourage you to customize the list to what suits your household. For example, you can get Bar-S hot dogs for probably .20 and that might be a stock up price for you on hot dogs. Bar-S is not a product that our family uses, so my stock up price on hot dogs is probably $2.75 for something like Hebrew National.
I also said I would pay up to .50 for toothpaste. Many people refuse to pay anything at all for certain products like toothpaste, but in my situation I tend to be willing to pay a little extra for convenience. If I have to make an extra trip to Walgreens to get toothpaste for free and then spend $2 cash and roll rewards and such, well I would rather go to Target and just pay .50 for the same product and save myself some trouble. So again, it is all about value to you!
You can see my Price Book here– note there is one tab for grocery and one for drugstore items. You should be able to very easily update this with your own products and prices!
You can check out more articles on the Learning to Use Coupons series here.
You might also check out my vlog with more tips on understanding grocery store sales cycles.