0

Couponing's best-kept secrets:
Learn when less in more

This week's Super-Couponing secret may surprise you, because it goes against just about everything shoppers believe about saving money and shopping. Are you ready for a head-scratcher?

Secret #5: Smaller-Size Items are Often a Better Value.

Yes, you read that right. Buying the smaller size of a product, with coupons, is often a better deal than buying a larger size of the same item. When I teach my coupon classes, this statement is almost always met with disbelief. I completely understand why, because it runs contrary to just about everything shoppers believe.

To get the lowest price, we are conditioned to buy the largest size of something -- the "family size" cereals, the "value-pack" of refills or just the largest package we can find. It does seem that you'll need to buy that item less often, if you buy a larger size, but you're also likely to spend much more than you need to.

When we have a fairly high-value coupon, applying it to the relatively lower price of a smaller-sized item will often result in a significantly lower per-ounce cost. I know that this surprises many people. It surprised me, too, as I became a more experienced shopper. Over time, I noticed that many of the items I was able to bring home for free or for pennies were usually in smaller-sized packages than their so-called "value" or larger counterparts. Adding to the confusion, the larger packages often tout in big, bold letters that they are the better buy!

A few examples will help you understand why this works. A certain brand of aluminum foil is on sale at my local store. The 70-square-foot box is $3.79 and the 20-square-foot box is 99 cents. With a coupon that states "$1 off any aluminum foil," I have my choice as to which size box I'd like, the larger or the smaller. While my dollar coupon will, indeed, give me a discount on the larger box, the smaller box will be free. And I prefer free any day.

The rule of thumb that it's better to buy the smaller size especially holds true when we stack a store's coupon and manufacturer's coupon. With the two coupons, we receive an even larger discount on an item. For example, baby wipes are on sale at my store this week. The plastic tub contains 77 wipes and it's on sale for $2.99. The "value-pack" of baby wipe refills contains 231 wipes and it's on sale for $5.99. My store offers a $1.50 store coupon good on any size of the wipes. I also have a $1 manufacturer coupon for the wipes. Stacking these coupons gives me $2.50 in savings on either size item. With the coupons, the plastic tub with 77 wipes will cost just 49 cents. The "value-pack" refill will cost me $3.49 using the same coupons. The "value-pack" contains three 77-count wipe packages; that works out to about $1.16 for each 77-wipe package. I'd spend more than twice as much on baby wipes if I purchased the larger, so-called "money-saving" size.

An even easier example involves coupons for items that come in a trial or travel size. A $1 coupon good for any size deodorant will certainly give you a discount on a full-size deodorant. But a 99-cent travel size will be free using the coupon. Again, any time a coupon states that it will work on any size of a product, remember that the trial and travel sizes are included. Free always makes better financial "cents" than spending more than we have to!

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 jill@ctwfeatures.com.