Monday, May 23, 2011

Adventures in Couponing: the Stockpile

Most people who use coupons to the extreme have a "Stockpile" of some sort. The basic idea is to buy in bulk when the price is good so you won't run out and have to buy something full price. You can call the stockpile whatever you want--food storage, your own personal grocery store... but no matter what the name, it is a good habit to get into.

It starts with just a few items. Instead of buying one, buy two. Try to get multiples of coupons whenever you can. If you can get tubes of toothpaste for $.13 apiece (which is currently a coupon sale at my grocery store right now), and you have the coupons for it--buy five! That will get you through several months or even a year of not needing to buy toothpaste. If you can do this for all your items, this is when you'll start to see your grocery bill drop drastically. You may have a few more pricey months--but you'll be storing up what you need and it will last you much longer. A well-stocked storage is as valuable as money in the bank when emergencies hit. Here's some tips to keeping an awesome stockpile:

-Mark perishable items with the date when you get home.
-Rotate, rotate, rotate! Put new items on the back of the shelf/fridge/freezer so that you'll grab the older ones first.
-Try to keep a paper or electronic inventory so that you don't forget what you have.
-Start with a 3-month storage goal. Try to get 3 months worth of things. Most sores and items run on about a 3-month sale cycle (in other words, nearly everything will come on a really good sale about once every 3 months). If you can utilize that well, you'll be needing to restock about the time the sale comes on.
-After you've accomplished 3 months, shoot for a year!
-Build shelves in a garage, storage room, or closet for your extra stuff.

Tips for avoiding going nutso:
-You do not need a thousand tubes of toothpaste for a family of four. You maybe need ten to twenty.
-You do not need to buy a year's supply in one shopping trip. Just get in the habit of buying two or three or four when you can.
-If you don't have the room in your house, you do not need to sleep on toilet paper instead of pillows. Just store what you have room for, and be satisfied. (PS--I'm currently storing things in the place where I use them. So I have extra lotion on my shelf, lots of dishwasher detergent under the sink, etc. Good tip if you're short on space and don't have a room to devote to stockpile.)
-Only buy and store things you need and use. If you don't have children, you don't need a hundred boxes of diapers.

Overall, remember that a stockpile shouldn't be overwhelming; it should be something that helps you save money. Once your stockpile is rolling, you'll have enough inventory to hold you out until the reeeally good sales come on. That's the goal, at least!


Lisa said...

This is from my Grandma H--I thought it was also very good advice.
Besides putting the new stuff at the back of the shelves, I have a Sharpie pen and mark every can and bottle with the year (or month and year) when I bought it. I don't do that with the paper products, but with anything that is in a can, bottle, or in the freezer. If you do this, you will be surprised at how much you actually use of some things, and how little of other things. Right now, I am having a problem "downsizing" what I buy because we don't eat as much as we used to, and I still have the mental vision of needing more than I really need.

Another thing I have is a spreadsheet inventory list. I don't put everything in every time I buy, but inventory two times a year, in the winter, and just before I start my freezer stockpiling in summer. This has really helped me to know how many bottles of peaches I need to do, and also how many cans of this and that I need to buy.

Again, food thrown away is wasting money!

Love, Grandma

Laurie/Mom/Grandma said...

I like my mom's advice. I also do an inventory every spring, but usually just the stuff I've bottled. I should extend that to canned things as well. And Lisa, I just got two tubes of toothpaste for about half the usual price. I could have used both $1.00 off coupons on one tube, but I need that toothpaste so I decided to splurge and get two.