Thursday, May 12, 2011

Coupon Boot Camp - Lesson 5: How Grocery Store Sales Work + Marketing Tricks

Today we'll talk more about how grocery store sales work and about recognizing marketing tricks. If you're new to my blog and my Coupon Boot Camp posts or you need a refresher, here are the links to the first 4 lessons:

Lesson 1: Introduction to Couponing

Lesson 2: Getting Organized

Lesson 3: The Right Way to Menu Plan

Lesson 4: Stockpiling and Budgets

I've been posting a new lesson each week on Thursday and Friday. To be honest, I'm not sure how many lessons there will be, I'm just kind of winging it. The plan is to cover all the basics of couponing in these lessons and then continue Coupon Boot Camp by highlighting different deals each week that you can go to the store and get yourself (Like I've been doing with the Shop Rite deals, click here for this week's.)...armed with your coupons of course! :) 

I've had quite a few questions asked, messaged and emailed to me since I started these posts and I'll be working on a post to compile and answer them all. If you've got a question about couponing or anything we've covered so far, please feel free to leave a comment or email me and ask so that I can include it. 


Now on to Lesson 5. :) 

Here are some things you should remember about how grocery store sales work to help you save more:

Most store sales run Sunday through Saturday. Some stores have special sales that run mid-week.

It's important to know that while most sales are advertised, some are not. Be on the look out for unadvertised sales and Manager's Specials. When I first started couponing, I would put all the coupons I knew I wanted to use (based on what was on sale in the store's weekly circular) in an envelope and take it to the store with me. It didn't take me long to realize there were items on sale that weren't in the ad. I got frustrated a few times because I saw something on sale that wasn't in the ad. and knew I had a coupon for home. That's when I came to use the binder system for organizing my coupons. Now I have all my coupons with me at the store so I don't miss out on unadvertised sales. 

Also look for clearance items and items marked down as Manager's Specials. If you have a coupon for an item that's been reduced, you can almost always still use a coupon to buy it and save even more. Always keep an eye out for Manager's Specials in the meat and produce departments. You're not going to see a lot of coupons for meats and fresh fruits and veggies, so the more money you can save otherwise in those departments the better. Just last night I picked up (3) 1 lb.+  packages of hot Italian sausage for under $1.00 each. They were marked down as a Manager's Special from $1.99/lb. to .88 cents a pound because they had tomorrow's expiration date on them. They're sitting in my freezer for future use. Meats that are close to their expiration date and on Manager's Specials are a great way to reduce your budget. If it's going in your freezer anyway, it doesn't matter if it expires 24 hours after you buy. It'll be frozen and totally safe. I don't see as many markdown's on meat as I'd like to, but when I find them I jump on them. 

Look for price hints in sales flyers. Sometimes you'll see an item on sale for $3.99 and then in smaller print it may say "Save up to $2". If it's not an item you're familiar with, you can assume the regular shelf price is $5.99 and decide if it's really a good deal or not. 

Many sales run longer than a week. Certain items might be on sale and only advertised for one week, while the sale might last 2-3 weeks longer, but unadvertised in the following weeks flyers. I've found this to be true of Shop Rite a lot.

If an item is on sale and out of stock, request a rain check. As with sales that last for several weeks, rain checks can give you more time to locate coupons for the item. It can be a bummer when you've got coupons for an item that's on sale for a great price and the store is out of that item. Get a rain check and say a prayer they get that item in before you coupons expire. You won't be able to use an expired coupon, even if your rain check was issued when the coupon was still good.

Here's a few things to remember about marketing tricks:

Grocery stores and food manufacturer's are in the business of making money, not saving you money. There's all sorts of marketing tricks they use to get you to spend more money. You've got to think long and hard about some deals to see if you're really saving yourself any money. A lot of new couponers fall for these tricks.

10/$10 deals are a fav. of mine. Especially when I have coupons for those items. A 10/$10 deal usually doesn't mean that you have to buy 10 of that item to get them for $1.00 each. You can usually buy 1, 2, 5, 10 or 20 and still get the items for $1.00 each. If the sale states that the item on sale is "$1 each when you buy 10", then a minimum purchase of 10 is required to get them for $1.00 each. 

Buy 1 Get 1 Free deals are great too. At some stores B1G1 Free items will ring up at 50% off each item (which is what a B1G1 Free deal really is) as opposed to the first item ringing up at full price and then the second item ringing up free. This is great because you can then use coupons on both items you're buying. 

You'll need to decide if promotions that require you to spend a certain amount of money in order to save money are really a good deal. These kinds of deals can be a great way to stock up your pantry, but if you don't carefully plan it out and use coupons, you could fall for the trick and spend more than you would have. 

Tomorrow we'll learn more about combining store sales with coupons to maximize your savings and starting a price book, which is essential to smart couponing!

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