Regular grocery shoppers will notice that prices at their local stores seem to fluctuate almost randomly. Many will look into extreme couponing sites for good deals. A box of cereal that’s on super saver special for 99 cents one week might go up to $3.95 the next, then drop to $2.50, then pop back up to $3.15, then back down to $1.99. What you want to do is ensure that you never, ever have to purchase that box of cereal at that full $3.95 price. You want to buy it as often as possible at the 99-cent sale price—and you want to use a coupon when you do.
This requires a bit of planning, and being a bit of a cheapskate, and the secret here is that grocery store pricing tends to run on 12-week cycles. That is, almost every item in the store will hit its lowest price about once every three months or so and then will bounce around for the rest of the cycle. (Sometimes it’s a 10-week or a 14-week cycle, and sometimes there are seasonal variations, but most items follow these fairly regular price cycles.)
What you want to do is buy enough of a product at its lowest price to last you until it hits that price again. You don’t want to run out of a staple in the middle of its sales cycle and find yourself having to buy that item, regardless of what its price happens to be that week. If your favorite cereal is on sale for 99 cents, you might actually buy nine boxes—instead of saying, hey that’s a good deal, let me grab one box.
You also want to hold onto coupons for your favorite products until those products go on sale, preferably at their lowest price. Most of us want to run to the store as soon as we see a coupon for a preferred item or brand, but if we wait a bit, we can usually save a lot more. Saving 50 cents on a $3.95 box of cereal is a drop in the bucket, but saving 50 cents on a 99-cent box of cereal is fantastic! In order to maximize your savings, look for printable online coupons before every shopping trip!
How do you know when items hit their lowest price? In the pre-internet days, savvy shoppers would keep a price book. Basically, when they went to the store each week, they would jot down the price of their favorite cereal that day, and then track the price over time to see how it varied and to keep track of the patterns. You can give this a try yourself. Just jot down items, sizes, and prices each week in a notebook, in an Excel spreadsheet, or on a printable template (you can find one at organizedhome.com/printable/houseworks-planner/price-book).
However, there are people online who do a lot of this for you to see the best deals in your local stores each week. You can also follow local deal bloggers, or people who run their own websites devoted to saving money. They’ll tell you what the best deals are each week—and where to find the matching coupons