Couponing 101: Complete Beginners Guide – Part 4


The first thing that you need to know is that building a stockpile should not negatively affect your budget!

The whole concept is one of savings! Do not neglect the overall savings in favor of stocking up on individual items.

If the current hot deal is for something that you will not use a lot of, exercise some restraint and look for the deals on things that your family uses every week. Don’t end up paying full price for everything else because you spent all of your time and energy getting 20 widgets that you won’t use for 2 months or more.

What is a stockpile, anyway?

A stockpile is, in its most basic form, having a backup for every item that you use on a regular basis. It’s not something that you go out and buy all at once, and say “Voila! I have a stockpile!” OK, technically, yeah. You could do it that way, but where are the savings?

A stockpile is built one item at a time, not bought.

Coupon Newbie has a cat. The cat needs cat litter. From reading the boards, Newbie knows that Tidy Cats litter will be on sale at Stop & Shop for $1 a 10 lb bag this week. Newbie looks in the coupon file, and has 10 x $1.00/1 coupons for litter. They get all 10 bags free after coupons!

This is newbies very first stockpile item! It may be the ONLY item added to their stockpile this week, but the stockpile has been born!

Next week,

newbie sees that Campbell’s Select Soup is on sale 4/5.00 or $1.25 each. They have 12 x $.50/1 coupons in hand that their store will double. This makes each can (normally $2.39 each) only $.25 each that week. Newbie buys 12 with coupons, spending $3.00 for $28.68 worth of soup and adding item #2 to their stockpile.

The third week,

Newbie may not find anything worthy of their newly established stockpile! They just use coupons for the things they actually need to buy that week, and still save 50% or more, which is just fine.

The fourth week is a bonanza!

There is a deal on cereal at their store. The Post cereals are on sale at $1.50 a box, our newbie has $1.00/2 coupons, and there is a rebate! Newbie spends $15.00 on 10 boxes of cereal, uses 5 x $1.00/2 coupons, and brings the cost down to $10.00. They then send off for the $10.00 rebate, making all 10 boxes free! Another stockpile item! AND another store has Mahatma rice packages on sale for $.50 each. Our newbie has coupons for $.50/2 that double, and they have 20 coupons. This translates into 40 packs of rice for nothing, and adds item #4 to the stockpile.

There is no reason that you need to start stockpiling flat-out, no holds barred. If you have budget constraints, which you are likely to if you want to coupon in the first place, start out by designating $20.00 a month toward your stockpile. When that’s gone, you only go after the things that you can get for free.

Many of the hard core couponers will tell you– it takes between 6 and 9 months to get a stockpile established and on its way to being self-sustaining. Even then, you sometimes miscalculate and run out of things.

How do I know how much of something to stockpile?

Family Usage: To begin with, figure out how large a supply you want to have on hand– 3 months? 6 months? A year? Then, determine how much of a given item your family uses each week or month.

EX: Family goes through 2 boxes of cereal each week. You want a 6 month cereal supply on hand. Six months = 26 weeks x 2 boxes/week= 52 boxes of cereal.

Unless is is a spectacular deal (like free), you will not buy all 52 boxes in one week! Build up to 52. Ten one week, and 15 the next time there is a cereal deal.

Read over the sales cycle thread. Things go on sale at regular intervals, which helps you to determine how much of any given item to have on hand. If you can’t store a year’s worth of cereal at one time, figure out how many boxes it will take to tide you over until the next time there will be fantastic cereal sales and rebates!

Stockpiling is an ongoing process, not an end in itself.

Just because you got free cat litter doesn’t mean you will pass up the next Tidy Cats sale. You are never “finished” with a stockpile, because as soon as you get a full supply of one item, you will run low on another.

For some reason it seems there are always some items you can never find a good enough deal on to stockpile. One example is paper towels. For some reason, one of our hard-core couponers has not found a really good deal on paper towels in years. She never has more than a 6pk of them in the house.

Brand loyalty is another reason that the stockpiling process may be off kilter. Although brand loyalty is a rare thing among couponers, for some things you just won’t compromise! You may overbuy by normal standards if you know it’s the only brand that you will use, and it doesn’t often go on sale.

Don’t consider the ultra-mega-monster packs of something from Sam’s or Costco a “stockpile”!

90% of the time, purchasing in bulk at a warehouse store is not the least expensive option. Don’t buy to stockpile from one, except for things you really can’t get great deals for on a regular basis. Even then, don’t buy at stockpile levels, just buy a big enough pack to get you through until you DO find the super deal elsewhere.

A few things are really inexpensive there, but quite a few things are just “cheaper than regular price” and are just tide-you-over buys, and are not stockpile-worthy.

Keeping control of your stockpile!

Control? What? Why would you want to do something crazy like that! I can get 200 of them for free! I’ll take all I can get.

There are several reasons to keep a handle on the ol’ stockpile.

1. Space:

Don’t let your stockpile take over. Sacrificing the comfort of your family and making daily life difficult is not the goal of a stockpile. If things get uncomfortable, you have probably bought too much.

2. Safety and Expiration Dates:

We have threads on the expiration dates of various products. A deal isn’t a deal unless you are actually going to use the item before it spoils. Ask yourself how much of a product your family can reasonably use in a given time frame, and STOP when you have that amount.

3. Nomadic Lifestyle:

This applies most to military families, but also certain other careers where frequent moves are necessary.

Not only do they have weight limits for how much you can move, but the moving companies also have restrictions on what you can move. No perishables, since containers can be in storage for 6 months to a year. Nothing flammable. No cleaning supplies. No batteries, etc. You can see that it can get very expensive to get rid of a large stockpile of these items.

The best way to stockpile in the military is to have a 3 to 6 month supply of items, instead of the 1 to 2 year supply a non-military family might have.

All of these articles were by Rubies, she has her own section in our forum click the link below to check it out.

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