When I go into my local grocery store, it’s like going into another world. Educating myself about the store and its inner workings is part of the science of couponing. I thrive on the sales, the bargains and the unknown surprises waiting around the corner. Before I became a KCL, I would grab whatever I wanted off the shelves. I wasn’t very astute in getting the best value for my money, and coupons were used very rarely. That sure has changed! One of the greatest techniques I’ve found is to read a product’s shelf tag. It contains so much information about an item. Here are 5 important shelf tag details and tips to pay attention to the next time you consider purchasing a product.

1. Sale dates

I always have a sales paper with me to make sure I get the best deals before they’re over, but some sale dates will extend into the next week despite what the paper says. Checking the shelf tag can help you verify the dates of a sale. Also, knowing the accurate sale period allows you to determine whether it’s worth getting a rain check as the dates should tell you if the item will become available while the sale’s still on.

2. Item size

Matching the physical product to the size listed on its proper shelf tag is important as items tend to get shuffled during sales. For instance, yesterday I was comparing the size of a Colgate toothpaste product with the price labeled on the shelf tag below it. The shelf tag said one size while the actual Colgate toothpaste was another. Knowing what the correct price is for an item will save you time and money when you get to the checkout counter!

3. Price per ounce

If you want to get the best price, you must consider how much you’ll have to pay per ounce. Suppose you have a coupon for one brand of olive oil, but you typically purchase another. Figure your cost per ounce for the item you routinely buy and compare it to the sale item with a coupon to see if your cost per ounce decreases. If it does, consider switching to the brand that’s on sale.

4. Rewards card savings

On a typical shelf tag, you’ll see the original price and then the rewards card price just below it. The sale is explained on the shelf tag so you can see your potential savings before deciding to purchase an item. This is also a great way to discover sales trends, allowing you to better take advantage of your store’s rewards program.

5. A picture captures all the details

Organization is one of the key ingredients to a successful shopping trip. That being said, if I need a rain check, the best way to capture a deal is to take a picture of the shelf tag with my phone. When I go to the service desk, I bring up the picture and have the sales clerk write the rain check based off of the shelf tag’s details. This saves me so much time especially if the person is not specifically aware of the deal I’m trying to get a rain check for. I also don’t have to shuffle through the sales paper for that particular deal, which can also take up precious time!