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Frugal Fridays – Price Tracking and Stockpiling

September 14, 2012

Welcome to Frugal Fridays, a series dedicated to ways I save money. If you have missed any part of the series, here are the links to the previous posts:

Saving Money with Coupons Part 1

Saving Money with Coupons Part 2

Taking Advantage of Free Picture Deals

Price Tracking:

When I started couponing and watching my spending habits more closely, one thing became very apparent – I had absolutely NO idea how much things were supposed to cost. Anyone with me on this? Just because there is a “sale” on an item doesn’t necessarily make it a good price. But I had no clue what things were supposed to cost so I was a total sucker for the word “sale” – if it said an item was on sale, I bought it!

So this leads to my next tip for saving money with coupons – price-track the main items you purchase for a few months, or even a few weeks. This process really helped me get a sense of what things cost on a regular basis so I would know when to stockpile (the next point below). Basically, keep a little journal or log of the items that you regularly buy (cereal, granola bars, rice, fruit, meat, toilet paper, yogurt, etc.) noting the date and the price of the item. Do this for a few stores in your area you can compare prices. I used the front of my coupon binder to jot down my prices but you could use anything that works for you.

Stockpiling:

After price-tracking for a little while, I now have a much better sense of when items were truly a good price and worthy of being purchased. Now when I find a good deal I buy as many items as I can.  This is why I always collect multiple inserts and try to gather as many coupons as possible. This way, if there is a great sale on an item, instead of buying just one of an item I can buy 5 instead (or more if I have the coupons). Of course you want to be combining a great sale with a coupon for your best savings, as I discussed in Part 2 of my Saving Money with Coupons series.

There are several advantages of stockpiling when items there is a good price – the first of which it is awesome to have a supply of items on hand when you need them. How many times have you over paid for an item because you ran out and bought it out of necessity? I was so guilty of this. I would always buy just what we needed for the week and not anything more. It is so fun to look at my stockpiles of items and know that I have a good supply in case we need them. Take a look at some of the items I have accumulated over the past two years of couponing (obviously this does not include items we have used throughout the two years or items I have donated):

Baby Items:

I think we will have enough baby wipes for while, don’t you think?

Shampoo and Conditioner:

Shaving Supplies:

Makeup:

Cleaning Supplies

Condiments and Other Pantry Items:

All of the items were purchased at rock bottom prices. I should preface this with the fact that our house has plenty of space so storage is no problem for us. If you live in a 400 square foot NYC apartment this may not be practical but for us it works just fine. Also, I am not really a brand snob. I pretty much buy what is on sale that I can use a coupon with. If you are preferential to certain types of pasta or shampoo, for example, you may only coupon for those items.

The other benefit to stockpiling is that the item might not go back on sale for a little while again. Sales go in cycles and you may need to wait awhile before the item hits a rock bottom price again. This is where price tracking for awhile also comes in handy. For example, I stock up on granola and protein bars every three months or so because that is about how often the sales come about. This way I don’t find us without granola bars before the next sale hits.

In addition to price tracking, the website Krazy Coupon Lady helps you identify good stockpile-worthy prices by denoting them with a yellow triangle next to the item. This helps me determine whether something is truly a rock bottom price.

Anyone else have a good method for tracking prices? Do you stockpile items when there is a good price?

Hope you have a great weekend.

~Kara

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