Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Discounts and Coupons: When to Pass on a Great Deal

The Grocery Store Tour

Many people scour grocery store circulars to figure out who has the best prices for various items and then shop for those items at the stores with the lowest prices. In some cases, this may mean visiting up to three or four different grocery stores to complete the week’s shopping. While this might seem like a good way to save a few dollars, the reality is that it may end up costing you money when you factor in the cost of the gas needed to get you from store to store as well as the intangible cost of your time. Further, in many cases people who shop in this manner buy many items not because they need them, but simply because they are on sale.

Rather than spend your time – and money – taking the weekly grocery store tour, you should try to stock up on staples and non-perishables when they are on sale so that you will have enough to last you until the item goes on sale again. For example, if you and your family consume a good deal of pasta, buy several boxes when it is on sale. Chances are, you will still have some on hand when it goes on sale again. Similarly, assuming you have adequate freezer space, you can stock up on lower-priced meats for later use.
Buy-One, Get-One Offers

While buy-one, get-one free offers are still used, the most common buy-one offer is the buy-one, get-the-second-for half price deal. What this does is entice buyers to “up-spend” to take advantage of the opportunity to obtain more products. In reality, however, the items are rarely things you may actually need two of. For example, it is not uncommon to walk into a shoe store fully intending to buy one pair of shoes only to be enticed by a sign that promotes a buy-one, get-the-second-for-half-price sale. You end up leaving the store with two pair of shoes and spending 50% more than you originally intended. While this might not be a bad deal if you actually need two pair of shoes, chances are you would have been just as satisfied with the one pair you had originally gone to purchase.
A Word about Online Shopping

Approach discounts and sales promotions offered by online vendors very carefully. While they may indeed offer a 50% discount, many also try to recoup a portion of the discount by raising their shipping and handling fee. Before making your purchase, be sure to carefully read the shipping policy to make sure you don’t end up paying more for shipping than for the product itself.

[Via - Preferred Consumer]

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