"Is ____ dollars a good price for that?"
"How often does ______ go on sale?"
"It seems like that never goes on sale, so should I just buy it now?"
I see these questions all the time online! And the funny thing is the answer is fairly simple... learn your sale cycles! Here are the steps to figure them out.
- When you first start couponing, don't fall into the urge to buy everything because it is on sale and you have a coupon for it. You could actually end up spending more money that way.
- Take some time to learn how things cycle. Some things cycle every 3-4 weeks, some 6, some 12. There are very few things that cycle longer than that. That being said they won't be the same sale price every time. I feel like everything goes on sale at some point.
- The easiest way to learn the cycle is just to pay attention to the circular each week. You may even collect them for a couple of months.
- Alternately, you can also go to your favorite deal matching site and use their history and/or search function to see how often things go on sale. Here's a link to the archive of weekly ad's on iheartpublix. You can go back pretty far with it.
- Make a list of what your family uses most often. Try to find what the frequency for sales is for those items.
- Limit your purchases. You don't need to buy pasta every time there is a good sale if you already have a stockpile of it. Buy a couple to replenish what you've used, but don't go crazy. Pasta cycles fairly often.
- Be aware of seasonal cycles. For example, baking sales are best in winter. Grilling sales are best in summer.Currently with the fall we are seeing all the back to school sales on food for lunches. This is sometimes the lowest point you will see them all year (but that doesn't mean they won't go on sale again...)
- Establish your stock-up price. While you may see stock-up prices on deal matching sites, it is best for you to be realistic about what you can do. Depending on where you live, prices may just be higher in your area and so you may never reach the price they have as a stock-up price. You may not have enough storage for 100 boxes of cereal at the lowest point, so your stock-up price may be more forgiving. If you only buy organic, whole grain, sugar-free, or gluten free varieties, you may have higher stock-up prices.
- Don't feel like a failure if some weeks you have to buy something at a price higher than your stock-up price! This is why I recommend a weekly budget and not a specific amount of savings.
Below I will list some cycles as I see them. Keep in mind that sometimes things will vary slightly from this list.
Things that cycle fairly regularly:
By this I mean that at least one brand goes on sale about once a month or more often. This does not mean it is necessarily the cheapest you will see it, or your most favorite brand.
-Bread, pasta, pasta sauce, juice, peanut butter, soda, lunch meat, diapers, wipes, baby food, cookies, crackers, cleaning products, salad dressing, bagged salad, cereal
Things that cycle less often:
By this I mean every 6-12 weeks.
-Paper goods, pet foods, cat litter, meats, frozen foods, chips, some personal care items, cheese, yogurt, otc medicines, boxed baked goods, refrigerated baked goods
Things that cycle rarely:
This is a very slim category, and pretty much means anything that happens a few times a year.
-Baking staples (flour, sugar, yeast, salt, chocolate chips, brown sugar, etc.), spices and extracts, seasonal fruits and vegetables, school supplies, specialty items (this is a broad term to include foods for special diets, "green" items, organics, etc.)
Join me next week for more frugal tips!