Set guidelines for how much you spend on groceries

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Every Wednesday, I hope, most of you look at the sales papers for our local grocery stores in order to make your weekly shopping list.

You see that a certain brand of laundry detergent is on sale for $4.99 for a 50-ounce bottle, but do you know if that is really a good deal or not? Do you ever wonder what really is a good price for the groceries you buy?

Most people will go by the sales papers and just assume that the laundry detergent sale advertised is a good deal, but to me that seems expensive. I will not buy any laundry detergent unless it is under $2. That is my “buy price” for laundry detergent. Once you set your buy price guide for your family, you will see an increase in savings and in your stockpile at home.

A buy price is going to be your price in which you will purchase an item. I mentioned that my buy price for laundry detergent is $2. Another example would be that I will not pay more than $1.25 for a 16-ounce bottle of salad dressing. I know that these figures may seem extreme, but if you are matching your coupons with sales it is definitely possible.

The more you coupon, the more you will start to come up with these numbers yourself. You might be willing to spend $3 or $4 on a 50-ounce bottle of laundry detergent. It all depends on you and your family. If you don’t have to do laundry but twice a week, you may not need as much laundry detergent as I do with two children and a football coach at home. Once you see that you can get an item for a certain price every time you use a coupon for an item that is on sale, you will start to consider that price your buy price.

There is also a “stock-up price.” A stock-up price is a price point lower than your buy price. For items at stock-up prices I would recommend you purchase as much as the store’s coupon policy will allow.

An example of a stock-up price to me would be this past week with toothpaste. With the sale and the super double coupons, I was able to get multiple tubes of toothpaste for free. Another example would be pasta sauce. With the sale and super double coupons I was able to get six jars of pasta sauce for $1 each. We use pasta sauce for so many different recipes that there is no way they will expire before we are able to use them. So, when an item reaches a stock-up price, purchase enough of that item to last until the item reaches that price again.

At my coupon classes, which will resume after the first of the year, I allow everyone to use a price guide that I found online when I first started couponing. However, I explain that now since I have been doing this for so long I don’t even use that one. I have come up with my own set of guidelines for shopping.

Over time you will be able to come with your own. In order to make your own price guide you just need to write down everything that you typically buy at the grocery store. After you have your list, figure out what the regular prices are for those items. Once you have done that, you will need to start keeping track of what the best price you have gotten for each of those items. Eventually, all of your items will have your low price beside them.

This is when you will see what your buy price is. When it happens to go any lower, then you will have your stock-up price for that item. It may be a little time consuming at first, but once you get your prices down you can see the savings start to pile up.

The idea of making a buy price list is so that you can save money. Once you have realized what your standards are for pricing, you will start to see a difference in your shopping. The best part about having this guide is that, hopefully, you will never pay full price or over pay for groceries again.

Happy savings!

Chelsey Edens writes a monthly column about couponing and ways to save money. She also conducts couponing classes at The Wilson Times. Classes will resume after the first of the year.