The manufacturer would like you to use your coupons as soon as you get them in the Sunday insert. But wait...don't do it. The key to maximizing your savings is to hold your coupons until there is a great sale. One of the best ways to know when you can get the best price on a product is to watch the stores pricing on products that you use everyday. Purchase a small notebook and choose 10-20 items that you use regularly and track the pricing. This is known as as Price Book. I had a guest post from Mandie at I Heart Deals on this very subject in March. (You can find Part II of her Price Book Tutorial here.) You will find that sales are cyclical. Stores and manufacturers rotate sales approximately every 12-13 weeks. In order to save the most money, purchase what your family requires for the 12-13 week period and then re-stock when the price is at its lowest.
You will; also, find that prices are cyclical by season. Here are examples:
In May and June of each year you will find that the prices on hot dogs, condiments, salad dressings, soft drinks, paper goods, and grilling items are on sale and there are an abundance of coupons available. This is generally the time that you find lots of Kraft specials and coupons.
In late July - September: breakfast items such as cereal and poptarts, lunch items for school lunches and school supplies are all on sale. General Mills and Kellogg's really step up to the plate during this time with great sales and coupons
In late October - New Years: baking items (sugar, flour, chocolate bits), turkeys, snack foods, cheeses, etc are on sale with lots of coupons.
Through Super Bowl: snack foods, frozen pizza, chips, dips, soft drinks, etc are on sale. You should; also, be on the look out for tear pads for mail in rebates. Many of the alcohol beverage companies have rebate offers for items that we all eat during the holidays and through the Super Bowl. No alcohol purchase is required in many states to take advantage of these rebate offers.
No sooner is the holiday season over than you will find coupons and deals for valentine candy, cards and gifts. . . .and then comes Easter sales.
Throughout the Spring you will find deals on frozen foods and dairy products.
2. Buy One Get One Deals
A great way to save money is to take advantage of the BOGO offers in your stores. The first thing that you need to find out is your store's policy on BOGO deals. Some stores charge for two items and then deduct one item at the end of the transaction; while other stores, charge half price for each item. Even so, many stores will allow two coupons on a BOGO deal.
For even more savings....use a BOGO coupon on a BOGO deal. Doing so, allows you to get two items for free.
3. Use Two Coupons On One Item
Remember earlier I told you there are Store coupons and Manufacturer's coupons. Whenever you have both coupons for the same product; use both to save even more. When you are reading forums and saving sites this will be referred to as "stacking". Most of the time you must present the store coupon first and then the manufacturers coupon for the most savings.
4. Unit Price
When determining your savings, you will be looking at your savings per unit (ie; ounce, pound, etc). For the most part, you will find that purchasing two smaller packages with two coupons is a greater savings than purchasing a larger package on sale with one coupon. This is especially true when you find that rare coupon that does not have a size restriction. You can; then, purchase trial size and travel size products for free or only pennies.
5. $X off $XX Coupons
I can just see your face. What is she talking about X off XX? Many stores offer coupons that are a certain dollar amount off of a minimum purchase; ie, $4 off $20 purchase; $3 off $15 purchase. Whenever it does not go against store policy, always be sure to have your minimum purchase amount met BEFORE coupons. Hand over the $X off $XX coupon once you have met the minimum purchase amount; such as $20; then hand the remaining coupons to the cashier. The only store that I am aware of that requires you to use your $X off $XX coupon after other discounts and coupons is Walgreen. However, this can still be a big savings.
6. RX Transfer Offers
Many drug stores and big box stores offer incentives when you transfer your RX to their pharmacy. The incentive is usually a store gift card. Since your goal is to spend as little money out of pocket as possible, this can be a great opportunity to "make some money"
7. Store Incentives
All stores have their own incentives to get consumers to purchase in their stores. Some stores price match or accept competitors coupons. CVS has Extra Care Bucks. Walgreens has Register Rewards, Rite Aid has Single Check Rebates. Whenever possible, take advantage of these incentives; especially when it will result in free products. Even if it is a product that you do not use, you can always donate it.