When Cori Simpson of Auburn goes shopping, it’s more of a challenge to her than just a weekly trip to the grocery. For Cori, and many others looking to battle the economy, shopping has become somewhat of a quest, as “comping” or price matching picks up momentum.
Several supermarkets, most notably Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy, are known for matching their competitors’ prices. If you know what you plan to buy ahead of time, and don’t mind spending time browsing through the weekly sales circulars, you might be able to get your entire grocery list at one store, while savings lots of money.
This is proven by several shoppers, including Simpson, who have taken comping/price matching to a whole new level.
“I usually save between $300 to $500 a month by price matching,” said Simpson, adding that is takes time and organization to make it work.
Simpson said for those who don’t have an out of the home job, price matching is a great deal easier because it takes some time to look through all the ads each week and to plan out your shopping experience. However, she doesn’t want to discourage the out of the home worker, they just need to start out slower and get to know the process.
With price matching, you find advertisements either through newspapers or on-line within the vicinity of the store that allows price matching. For some stores it has to be within a 50 mile radius. A lot of stores will post their products prices online, you just have to visit their websites. When you find the store’s pricing, you then must compare them to pricing in stores that offer price matching, such as Wal-Mart.
According to Wal-Mart’s website, they guarantee to match other stores’ pricing. Now, there are of course rules that need to be followed when doing this. Simpson, who considers herself a honest comper, says it’s important to follow the rules, because if enough people try to get by with being dishonest, she is afraid store such as Wal-Mart might stop allowing the match.
“You really need to do it right,” said Simpson. “Honesty is the best policy.”
Simpson has a folder she keep her product advertising in to better organize herself. She also uses a spiral notebook so when she finds the ad, she writes it down. Stores such as Wal-Mart do not require you to show them the actual ad, so having it written down in a notebook helps a great deal.
“The ads change every week. You have to check prices each week to see if anything has changed,” said Simpson.
Once you find your ad, you can plan your meals around them.
Simpson said she sits down and plans her family’s meals each week according to what products she finds to comp. She says if she finds spaghetti on sale, but it is for the next week, she will wait until then to have it.
One of the biggest mistakes compers make, said Simpson, is buying to much of one thing or buying something they don’t want or need.
“Just because you can comp it, doesn’t mean you need or want it. By that you end up over spending or wasting,” said Simpson, who has fallen into those pitfalls herself when first starting.
Simpson said she has enough toothpaste to last her six years in her closet. “Why on earth would I need toothpaste for six years?” laughed Simpson. “Don’t worry, it will go on sale again.”
Simpson began comping shortly after her husband Sean got out of the armed forces. She said she was astonished at how much things cost and with a family of four, needed to learn a few things to save. “I thought, oh my gosh, I can’t afford life,” said Simpson, until she learned comping.
Simpson said she usually targets some grocery stores in Bowling Green, finds their ads, and then takes the savings to Wal-Mart in Russellville.
Another thing shoppers need to be aware of, said Simpson, is until you get the hang of it, it may take some time at the register. Simpson said when she first started comping she would get some pretty bad looks from those behind her at the register because it took a long time to check out.
“Once you get the hang of it, it takes a lot less time at the register. I usually just tell the shopper behind me that I am price matching and it may take a few minutes. That way they can choose to go to another lane if they don’t want to wait,” said Simpson.
Simpson said she saves on lots of items, but mostly it’s on meat and produce.
You can also use the manufacturer coupons while comping, said Simpson, but not store coupons. The difference is that manufacturer coupons are for the specific product and will be good in any store. This lowers the price even more. You can find these coupons on the product website.