May 2, 2011

Tip of the day—Stockpiling tips

Stockpiling is one of the ways to save your family a lot of money when couponing.  Below are some tips:

  • Stockpiling is different than hoarding.  Keep things neat and buy what you will use.  If you get something free and won’t use it, donate it to someone who will. 
  • First in first out.  Don’t waste foods or products because you let them spoil or go bad.  Use what you have and buy what you will use.  Again, if you have extras, donate them.  Place foods that are the newest in the back of your pantry and move the other goods forward—just like they do at the grocery store.  One time a month try to give your stockpile a once over to see what needs using.
  • Store things at proper temperatures and conditions.  Some foods will spoil if stored in humid, hot or cold conditions.  Don’t store foods in an area where they might attract bugs or other varmints.  Don’t store in an area where they might get wet.
  • Buy things before you need them.  I know this sounds counterintuitive, but you wouldn't believe how much money this saves you.  For instance, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve purchased 4 bottles of Heinz Organic Ketchup.  With my printable coupons, they were only 29cts each.  They don’t expire for another year or so.  I didn’t need organic ketchup, but I will have it available next time I do.  If I had waited until I needed it, I would have probably paid right at $2 for one organic ketchup bottle.  When you see an item that is free or just costs pennies, buy as many as you can with the coupons that you have available.  If it is a product that you don’t have room for, don’t use, or won’t use before it expires, donate it or give it to a friend or relative. 
  • Wait for the sale.  If you happen to run out of something that you need and there isn’t a good deal on that product this week, buy 1 and then wait for the sale.  For example, I ran out of dishwashing detergent last week.  I forgot that I had given a couple of boxes to my dad, and I ran out before I realized I was running that low.  I picked up 1 box of detergent this week with a $1/1 coupon.  It wasn’t a terrible price, but it wasn’t the price that I know would deem it stock-up worthy.  I bought the one box, and I’ll try and wait until it goes on sale again before buying.  If by the time I run out of detergent, a fantastic sale doesn’t come up, I’ll do the same thing again.  My price point for dishwashing detergent is $1.50 or less a box, and I usually purchase it for $1 or free with coupons. 
  • Know your price points.  As you start to shop with coupons more, you’ll develop a price point list in your head.  Some people start a price book as a way to have detailed lists, but for me, that is too much trouble.  I know I like to pay 99cts or less for whole wheat bread, $1.50 or less for laundry detergent, about $4 for organic butter per pound, etc.  I know that I can usually buy Seventh Generation dish soap at Target for less than a dollar each, and I can buy Hellman’s mayo for the best price when Walgreens runs a sale and RR deal.  The more you shop, the more you’ll get the hang of knowing your price points and at what stores you can find them. 
  • Set aside a little money each month for stockpiling.  Even if it is only $5 per month, you might be surprised at how far that seed money can go.  At drugstores, for instance, you can use that $5 to get you started on catalina deals and roll them throughout the month.  One of the reasons our family uses a monthly food budget instead of a weekly one is that we try to stock up when we can.  I use a portion of that budget each month to buy in bulk.  I buy more locally grown foods in the summer months and stock up on foods like lamb, beef, olive oil, maple syrup, and coconut oil in the off season. 
  • Watch for seasonal sales.  In January, you’ll find deals on weight loss products and Super Bowl foods.  February is a good month to stock up on candy and seafood (Mardi Gras).  March and April will bring sales on candy, ham, eggs, and baking products as Easter nears.  You’ll also find cleaning products marked down for spring cleaning sales.  In May, you’ll find deals on BBQ foods for Memorial Day and party foods for graduations.  In June, you’ll see deals on picnic products and steaks and “manly” foods will be on sale in prep for Father’s Day.  In July, you’ll again see BBQ foods reduced.  August will bring back to school sales on everything from school supplies to zip top bags to lunch foods to boxes of cereal.  September will be a good time to pick up some more BBQ and grilling foods for your Labor Day party.  October will bring sales on Halloween candies, apples, apple cider, marshmallows, and chocolate bars.  In November you’ll see turkeys at their lowest and find great deals on all kinds of baking products.  In December, there will be deals on Christmas candies, boxes of chocolates, mulled cider, hot tea, hot chocolate, hams, turkeys, and baking products. 
  • Watch for seasonal foods and preserve them at home.  Buy some extra strawberries at the farmers market and make some homemade jam or freeze some to use for smoothies and muffins later in the year.  Food preservation isn’t as hard as most people make it out to be—give it a try!
  • Don’t let stockpiling be the absolute priority.  If you blow your entire food budget on toilet paper, you’ll have toilet paper but what are you going to eat for supper?  Also, don’t let stockpiling become an obsession.  It is absolutely fine to miss a sale or coupon deal—believe me, they will roll around again.  If you have a busy week, don’t worry about missing the sale.
  • Let your stockpile save you money.  If you have a tight month financially, let your stockpile be the source of your meals for a few weeks to save money.  Last year I had 2 eat from the pantry challenges, both of which saved us a few hundred dollars from our grocery budget. 

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