The thing that takes new coupon clippers the most time to learn is how much things really cost.
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I never realized how prices will vary from week to week on the products I buy until I got into couponing.
When I realized that prices vary, I began keeping a log of the things I bought most often, and how much I paid for them each week. Once I did that, I realized that some weeks I’d pay .50 cents per roll of toilet paper, and other weeks, I’d pay .25 cents per roll, for the exact same product at the exact same store. (Now that I’m couponing – I never pay more than .20 cents per roll – I’ll get into how I do that later.)
I began paying attention.
So, one of the first things you need to do is find out how much things typically cost. Keep a running list for a few weeks, until you know without looking at your list. This will help you tremendously when you begin scanning weekly ads at your favorite stores. Then you’ll be able to instantly recognize an item at a good price.
Some things to remember when making your list:
- When writing prices down, convert the amounts of things into a “cost-per-unit” price. This is important because different stores carry different sizes and different packaging of products (I’ve found this is especially true for Wal-Mart). Wal-Mart may sell a 24-pack of Angel Soft double rolls of toilet paper for $12.99 (27 cents per single roll), and Food Lion may have a 4-pack of regular rolls on sale for $1 (25 cents per single roll) – so you’d actually be paying slightly more at Wal-Mart. So, write your item down this way: Angel Soft toilet paper, 25 cents per single roll.
- Because of the above tip, be sure to always have a handy calculator in your purse or pocket. It’ll help you figure out the “4 for $5” and “$1.89 for 2 lbs” sales labels too.
- Include all the things you buy on a regular basis, of course. If you don’t care about brand names, then don’t write them. Just write: “toilet paper” instead of “Angel Soft,” for instance.
- Be sure to especially include the things you wouldn’t compromise on (name brands you love). I love Angel Soft toilet paper, for instance, and I hardly ever buy any other brands. I also love Curel lotion for myself, and Aveeno lotion for my babies, and I never buy other lotions. I can quote you prices on my favorite things, and I know about how often they go on sale, and about how often coupons are offered for these things. Knowing these things helps me to stock up and save on these products whenever I see a good sale.
When you’re familiar with the prices of your favorite and commonly purchased items, then you’re ready for finding the real deals, by combining those sale prices with coupons!
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