I was in a local store last week and I saw someone in the aisle comparing prices on two similar items. I couldn’t help myself, so I offered some information to help her make the decision. I told her that the week prior, there was a coupon for the one item, and I wasn’t going to use it. We must have stood there for 15 minutes, discussing the use of coupons, my class and my column.

These were some of the questions she asked, and I know they will help out others while beginning the coupon journey.

Q. When is the best time to use a coupon?

A. Unless the item you are planning to buy is on sale the same week that the coupon comes in the newspaper, you will need to clip it and hang on to it. I always hang on to a coupon until I know an item is on sale, or it has been lowered to a rock-bottom price. This way, you are saving the maximum amount on your item. This is also an important time to stock up on this item, because it will be on sale during that week only.

Q. How do I know when something will go on sale again?

A. It is important to keep track of the prices of your favorite items. You can use a small notebook to write down prices of items that your family uses when they go on sale. Stores usually run similar sales about every 12 weeks. These are called “sales cycles.” This way, if something has gone on sale, you should stock up as much as possible, because it will probably be another 12 weeks before it goes on sale for that price again.

Q. How do I get multiple coupon inserts so I can buy multiple items and stock up?

A. You can order multiple newspapers to be delivered every Sunday through The Post-Star. You can also ask friends and family members to give their inserts to you. I get six newspapers a week. That is a good number for a family of four.

Q. Why can’t I ever find coupons for items I buy?

A. Coupons come at different times of the year. Condiment coupons are more likely to come during the spring and summer months, and baking coupons will be in the inserts this time of year. This is where stockpiling comes into play. You can stock up on salad dressing, mustard and ketchup during the summer, and flour, sugar and pie filling this month. You can always find coupons for taxable items such as toilet paper, toothpaste and tissues. It may not be your favorite brand, but that doesn’t have to stop you from getting a great deal.

In my monthly class at The Post-Star, I go into detail about using coupons, saving money, finding monthly deals and how they will benefit your family and your pocketbook. There are free giveaways during the class as well. Please join me for my next class at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24. Feel free to call 518-742-3309 or go to poststar.com/couponclass.

Head over to my blog at Making Cent$ About Extreme Couponing to find some great deals around the region this week. Post your questions, comments and deals in the comments section.

Kimberly Butler is a mom, wife and child care provider located in Queensbury and writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at kimberlybutlerthepoststar@gmail.com or visit her Making Cent$ About Extreme Couponing Blog at www.poststar.com/blogs/making_cents.

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