When discussing couponing and saving money with people I hear the same two statements all the time, first – “There just isn’t enough money…I am always having to pay for something.” and then after asking them if they coupon the second statement is “I just don’t have time”. I try my best during these occasions not to judge or show a look of disbelief on my face because it is so very easy and doesn’t take a lot of time. I have mentioned here before that I am not an extreme couponer by any means, but I do love to save money and I try to watch the sales. I am going to share with you my tools and routine…and then will break one of my tools down in more detail to hopefully get you on the bandwagon to saving money the easy way. I should mention I just scored 600 – 4×6 photo prints (regular retail price $60.00+) for FREE!! Have I peaked your curiosity yet?
Tools you will need:
1. Writing Utensil or Computer
2. The weekly sale ad for the stores you frequent (Kroger and Target Sale Ad – Sun; Publix Sale Ad – Wed). You can bypass needing to purchase a paper if you load the mobile app called “Weekly Ads”.
3. Coupons – you can purchase the Sunday paper, gather from friends/co-workers who get the Sunday paper, go to manufacturer or coupon sites online.
My typical routine consists of me looking at the weekly ads for Target and Kroger on Sunday…from one of my Mobile devices. On Wednesday’s I look at the weekly ad for Publix (They run their sales from Wed-Tue). I make a list of items I need based on what is on sale. Now this “need/want” list is determined by our current stockpile, what we are out of and my price book. I match the sales with my coupons and I go to the store at some point before the ad ends. Throughout the week I review my facebook/Pinterest feeds from www.krazycouponlady.com to make sure there isn’t a sale item I missed. That is it!
Now, I have addressed how to easily build a stockpile here and need/want lists here so today I am going to share how I use/built my price book. I previously kept this within a mobile app, but quickly realized that didn’t work for me. Please don’t let the amount of data in this spreadsheet overwhelm you because it is really not that serious. The main thing you need to know is that products go on sale in cycles. Each item is on a different cycle and there are several sites out there that give you a pretty good idea of what is on sale in a certain month. Now, these cycle lists are great and all, but I wanted to know when the items I bought regularly went on sale and what the lowest possible price could be. So after doing a lot of research and looking at various pricing charts I merged several of the ideas and came up with the one I am currently using. I wanted one place to see all the sale items and in as few sheets as possible. I wanted to know when I used coupons and what it cost per unit for the item. Many times I would find something in one store and then find it in another but the quantity or size of the item wouldn’t match…well you aren’t comparing apples to apples if you try to base it off the overall price. You have to get the cost down to a comparable entity and that is the unit of the item…bars, oz, liters, etc.
I purposely did not remove anything from TheHappinessBucket Price Book in the resource library so you could see how it works. Mine is currently sorted by the item column because I’m not concerned with the where…when I am first reviewing this sheet. I will use a current sale to help explain how this works. Last week, Publix had a BOGO sale on General Mill’s cereal (Scroll down to honey nut). It is normally $3.39 a box. So their sale automatically made it approximately $1.69/$1.68 a box. Well, I can look at this sheet and see that the last time I got it for around this price was during a Kroger mega event sale and at that time it was $1.49 a box before coupons. Although this price was $.20 off, I had two coupons. One that was for $1.00/2 boxes and one that was for $.50/1 box. My Publix doubles up to $1.00 so theoretically I was able to get each box for ~$1.19. Now, when I looked at my receipt the boxes were actually $1.58/$1.57 a box, so I actually only paid $1.08 per box. Now, the reason the Size/Unit columns are important is because some stores have larger boxes of the same cereal. You need to then compare the actual unit price (column I or N) to determine if it is a good sale or not. Hopefully, I didn’t lose you yet.
Now, I know many of you are freaking out by how much I have on my sheet…please don’t. I don’t walk through stores trying to populate the sheet, but you could if you wanted to. I actually populated the sheet over time using my receipts once I return home from a trip. I’d take the sheet and fill in the information it provides and sometimes I referred to the actual item to get the unit size. So understand, you will need to track your spending for a few months before you start seeing a pattern. Most sale cycles are anywhere from every 2, 4 or 6 months. In the case of the General Mill cereal, I know that the best sales (at least from what I’ve seen) are in July/August of every year which aligns with back to school time. BBQ sauce is usually May and June The key is to know your sale cycles so you can determine when you should stock up and how much you should get. I know last year I bought 12 boxes of cereal and they pretty much lasted me until this August (I had two left). So I would love to locate about 2 – 4 more boxes to complete my stockpile for the year…but I will be alright with the 6 I have if need be. I will keep an eye out for the Kroger Mega sale though.
I am happy to provide you with a free printable price book, but your use of it is your agreement that you will not sell it or any version of it AND if you spread the word about this printable, you promise to link to this blog posting (not the actual file). To get the Price book template and the sample file go to my resource library.