It's time again to answer reader mail from people like you who are
learning to Super-Coupon:
Q: "I've been reading your columns with great interest. Prices
seem so high right now in the grocery store. If I just buy the store
brand of products, won't I save more money than using coupons on
the big brands?"
A: This is a common misconception among new coupon
shoppers. It's true that when you compare the shelf price of store
brands with the price of name-brand products, the store brands often
appear to save us more money. But with rare exceptions, we can
almost always buy the name-brand products that we like and prefer
-- with coupons -- at an even better price than the store brand.
Why is this? Quite simply, there are many more coupons and
discounts available for name-brand products than for store-brand
products. If you look at your coupon inserts from the newspaper and
the wide variety of coupons available on the Internet, you'll quickly
notice that there are typically no coupons for store-brand items.
Large, brand-name product manufacturers work very hard to
encourage us to try their products. They feature their brands and
products in the coupon inserts, offering shoppers significant
discounts to try them. Many times, it's also possible to find store
coupons for the same products. If we stack a store and manufacturer
coupon together, we're reaching an even larger savings on the
brand-name item than we could by simply purchasing the store
brand at its regular low price.
As with all things, there are always exceptions. If your store
happens to offer coupons for its own brands, that's a great way to
save. Here's a perfect example. Recently, my store had coupon
dispensers set up in the aisle offering $1 coupons for "any [store-
brand] paper product." During this sale, store-brand rolls of paper
towels, boxes of facial tissue and packages of the napkins were all
on sale for $1. Now, if you're a regular reader of my column, you
know that using a $1 coupon on a $1 sale is one of my favorite ways
to get things for free!
Speaking of coupon dispensers, our next question this week
pertains to them.
Q: "I often see coupon machines on the shelves of the grocery
store, but the coupons in them aren't usually for things on sale. Is
there a strategy for getting good discounts with these?"
A: Absolutely! You're right in noticing that most of the time, the
coupons in the store's coupon dispensers don't link up to the best
sales in the store. That's also true of the coupons we receive in the
newspaper each week. Their greatest value comes when the price of
the featured item takes a big dip. I regularly "shop" the coupon
dispensers in my stores. If I see coupons for an item I like, I will take
a few to hold onto until the sale price drops. About six weeks ago,
my store's coupon dispenser offered $2 coupons for turkey bacon.
But the turkey bacon was on sale for $4.99, a relatively high price. I
took a few coupons from the dispenser and held onto them for four
weeks... when the price of the turkey bacon went down to $2.99.
Now, I took home turkey bacon for 99 cents a package! If I had used
those coupons the week I found them in the dispenser though, I
would still have paid $2.99 a package -- three times the price.
© CTW Features
Jill Cataldo, a coupon-workshop instructor, writer and mother of
three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at
her Web site, www.super-couponing.com. E-mail your couponing
coups and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.