*In the past, whenever I purchased something at Costco, I assumed that because I was buying in bulk at Costco, I was getting a great deal, but one toilet paper purchase made me reverse that assumption.
After a bulk purchase of toilet paper (the super soft kind--my husband is kinda picky) I decided to work out the price per unit for the TP I just bought: .63/jumbo roll (I don't work out the price per sheet, that's a little too extreme for me).
I then picked up the weekly circulars and in EVERY SINGLE AD there was a similar quality TP on sale for .55 a roll or lower. Most were at .50/roll. This was without coupons.
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I've never formally tracked prices for my favorite items in a price book--it seems like so much work. I do know by heart hot prices for food items that I use the most often: bread, tortillas, peanut butter, chicken breasts, beans, pasta tc... I've definitely never priced toilet paper before. I just blindly buy the TP mega packs at Costco, right after I toss in the mega pack of paper towels. (Note to self: compare prices on paper towels)
I still think a price book is a lot of work, but luckily Queenbeecoupons.com has gone through a lot of effort to create a comprehensive price book with 400 Costco items and their price per unit in her post about Costco vs. Coupons.
So here is my new strategy to determine when to coupon and when to Costco.
I jotted down the price and the price per unit of my favorite items to buy at Costco: TP, paper towels, coffee, cheese, Zip Lock baggies, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, cereal, nuts, granola bars, gum, and various snack items. I have that list in my coupon binder. When the price per unit is lower in a regular grocery store, I buy.
I already know that some things I won't be able to find lower anywhere else like specialty cheeses and organic lettuce. And some I won't buy anywhere else--I can find tasteless, pale-on-the-inside tomatoes cheaper everywhere off season, but Costco is the only place I can find red-all-the-way-through tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes year round.
*Graphic from QueenBeeCoupons.com, too. Visit her site and support her and hopefully she won't mind me borrowing her graphic. It was too perfect, I couldn't resist! ;)