By Jill Cataldo
One of the questions I hear most often is, How do I know I’m getting the best price? Here’s my standard. Whether buy a bottle of barbecue sauce or a winter coat, my goal is always to cut the price by half or more. While I love to get “crazy” deals (such as matching a $1 coupon to that barbecue sauce when it goes on sale for $1!) my usual goal is to cut the price of products I purchase in half.
When you use this simple rule of thumb – cut the price in half – it becomes easy to recognize when an item falls into a good “buy” range. While you may find that over time your range of savings will fall a little over or a little under this mark, it’s a good one to aim for. When shopping for groceries, you’re most likely to achieve that goal by combining both a sale and a coupon.
For example, this week I purchased a 12 double-roll pack of name-brand toilet paper. Its regular price was $7.99 but it was on sale for $4.99. With a $1 coupon, I cut the price to $3.99 – half price! I knew this was a good buy, too, because the per-roll price hit my personal “buy” benchmark for toilet paper: less than 25 cents per single roll, less than 50 cents per double roll or less than $1 for a mega roll. I paid about 33 cents per double roll, a very good deal.
Of course, when a good sale comes around, you’ll want to stock up as much as you can. I had four coupons for the toilet paper sale, so now I have plenty in the house until the next great sale.
Want another example? This week, I also stocked up on pasta. A popular brand was on sale for $1 per box, down from $1.50. I had coupons good for $1 off the purchase of two boxes that dropped the price from $1 to 50 cents per box! That’s a drop of about 66 percent, even better than cutting the price in half!
I apply this cut-the-price-in-half philosophy to just about everything I buy: groceries, household products, clothing, housewares and additional purchases, too. Many clothing and general-merchandise stores offer coupons and sales, and putting the two together often results in taking products home for great prices.
Let me share some more examples. I’ve long been a lover of clothing clearance racks. Stores shift inventory so often that it seems there’s always something new hanging around at the back of the store, waiting for someone to come and browse for deals. Recently, I received a coupon good for 20 percent off from a major clothing store. Armed with the coupon, I headed out to look for deals.
In the boys’ department, I spotted some great buys for my sons. Long-sleeved shirts were on clearance for $3, marked down from $10. Now, three dollars is already a fantastic price for a boy’s shirt, but with the 20 percent off coupon, the price dropped to an incredible $2.40! I bought several shirts in different styles, all at this great low price.
During the same shopping trip, I browsed the boys’ outerwear, too. A sign in the department noted that all jackets were 30 percent off. I found a jacket that I liked priced at $17. With the 30 percent discount, the price dropped to $11.90. After my 20 percent coupon, the price went to $9.52. While the price wasn’t quite cut in half (it was a 44 percent savings) it was a great buy and a price I was willing to pay.
Here’s the question you must ask yourself: what price are you willing to pay? Your goal may be different from mine. Achieving a 20 percent or 30 percent savings may be your goal, and that’s fine. Any money saved is better than paying full price!
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.