Price tracking example – pasta

I keep a lot of pasta in the house. It’s easy to fix and very versatile, and has a long shelf life. Doesn’t take up freezer or refrigerator space, is packaged in stackable, tidy-sized boxes, and a full pound is enough for a few meals. So, when I see pasta coupons, I save them for a Buy One Get One Free sale, and wait.

About a month ago, there were 55 cent coupons in the newspaper for the Mueller’s Hidden Veggie pasta one-pound sizes, and there was also a Buy One Get One Free coupon. I saved them.

The past few days, at Publix, there has been a display that hands out coupons also for 55 cents off Mueller’s Hidden Veggie pasta. Keep in mind, Publix doubles coupons up to 50 cents, but Bi-Lo doubles coupons up to 60 cents.

Hopefully you saved your coupons from the paper, and grab a few while you’re at Publix, because Mueller’s pasta is now on sale at Bi-Lo for Buy One Get One Free. Your 55 cent coupon will double, the sale price is less than $1.10, you’ll get the pasta for free.

Bi-Lo also has the added bonus of earning fuel perks for every purchase.

Last week, Mueller’s pasta was Buy One Get One Free at Publix, and I picked up several, but since they didn’t double the 55 cent coupon, I paid 17 cents per box ($1.45 divided by two is 72 cents, minus 55 cents is 17 cents) which is still considered within my stock-up price, so it was still a good deal. And, like I said, they are easy to store, we keep a lot of them, and they have a long shelf life, so I’m fine with buying some at 17 cents. If I had waited until today, I’d have gotten them for zero, but that’s how it goes.

Sometimes a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow, so I think I did okay by getting them when I did. However, I will be getting more with the leftover coupons I have at Bi-Lo. So, my average price per box will be 8-1/2 cents (bought some at 17 cents, getting some at zero).

I track prices and for the most part know which ones do go down to zero, and pasta is one of those, but over the course of a year anything below 30 cents is considered a “buy”.

Keep track of your common items with your Price Tracker! It works! And just be ready to stock up when you are at the right price.

ADVANCED CLASS NOTE – Using the paper coupon for Buy One Get One Free along with a published Buy One Get One Free sale is often tricky. It depends on how the coupon is worded, how it swipes at the register, how the sale price is coded. Sometimes, what happens is, the coupon will swipe and prompt the cashier to ENTER the price to remove. Depending on how the cashier is trained (oh boy, this really varies…), either the cashier will scroll through the cash register tape and enter the sale price (in this case, around 72 cents), or if the regular price is displayed, may enter the regular price (in this case, around $1.45) but you often do not how they will handle it until it happens. So, what might happen is either you will pay 36 cents per box (if she enters the sale price) or nothing (if she enters the regular price). Also depending on how the cashier is trained and how the coupons are coded when they swipe, you might be able to ALSO use the 55 cents off coupon, maybe. This is another one of those things that you might not find out how this plays out until you try it. Bi-Lo’s policies are no overage, but free is allowed, so say you are using the BOGO coupon and one 55 cent off coupon with a BOGO sale. Following strictly the store’s published rules, the BOGO coupon will swipe and remove 72 cents, then the 55 cent off coupon will apply to the box of pasta you paid 72 cents for, meaning you’ll pay 17 cents total for both boxes. But, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes cashiers get confused, sometimes errors pop up at the register with the second coupon, sometimes they call a manager over, then you are left to training and interpretation, which may or may not go your way. I never argue, I accept whatever they decide. If I truly disagree or find their interpretation is different than published policy, I might call the Bi-Lo 800 number later, but I never deal with a disagreement at the store level. It stresses them and me out and is usually nothing but a waste of time since at that point, you would have to have a winner and loser of the disagreement, so … oh heck, it’s just unpleasant. Dealing with someone you’ll never meet over the phone who just wants to make a customer happy for 72 cents is much easier than trying to explain to a cashier that she’s been trained wrong, or a manager that she doesn’t know her own store’s published rules. I’m not going to do that, I’ll call the corporate office and let them deal with the training/interpretation of rules instead. Now, the other possibility, although this doesn’t happen often, is that the dollar amount is actually coded into the Buy One Get One Free coupon. When that happens, it’s a huge relief and it’s great for everyone involved. No annoying “beep” of the register, no error codes, no human interaction, no uncomfortable pauses, no delays for the customers behind you, just a dollar amount automatically coded in that matches (most likely) the sale price of the item and onward to the next coupon. That’s why, when I have an unusual situation like this, I try not to do it with a big order, just when I have a few things to purchase. That way, it doesn’t grind things to a halt at the cashier level if things don’t work out on the first try.

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