Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stockpile 101

All the "couponers" out there can probably agree that one very important theme about saving money, is to stockpile. I wanted to do some research about the topic and looked it up on google and came across some 55 photos of "Katrina's stockpiles from couponing". After looking at the photos, I kept on hearing myself say "Oh my god" over and over. And now, I don't think my stockpiles are big in any way (especially compared to Katrina!) and I have a long way to go.
The key to stockpiling is to actually stock up on items you need or will need in the future and not get caught up with the sales and pick up extra items, just because it's an amazing deal and you didn't want to leave it in the store. (I am guilty of that too, but instead have found myself giving things I don't really use or need to families & friends that can use it. ) Just think of it, If I stock up on so many items I really don't need or will ever use, then I won't have the space or the money to stockpile the real necessities. Some key points I keep in mind:

Why I stockpile? I stockpile staples when they’re on sale and it saves me money in two ways, by purchasing the items at the reduced price as well as cutting down on quick runs to the grocery store. Reducing the amount of shopping trips per week has been proven to reduce your weekly spending.

What can I stockpile? Household & personal hygiene products can last for a very long time. Stockpiling food is tricky, since you need to take into account the eating habits of your family and the expiration dates on the products. Medicines are similar too, they have expiration dates and you don't want to mess around with that. So stockpile anything your family uses now or will need in the future, as long as you have the space. Be creative with storage if you are tight on space such as using Rubbermaid containers and storing them under beds and on high shelves. Label the containers with its contents and write down the inventory.

How I started stockpiling? My stockpiles started with actual "free" items I have bought. If you are new to couponing and savings, you should know that each week you can get free food and household items from national stores such as CVS, Walgreen's, Rite Aid, Target, Walmart and even your local Supermarkets. That is why my blog highlights many of these deals and shows you how you can get them too. So a couple of years ago, I started getting the Free after Rebate items at Rite Aid such as toothpaste, shampoo etc and before that year was over I was stocked up with so many goodies. Today, I still have lots of stockpiles of personal & household products, but I have shifted my focus to the real necessities our family needs. I focus a lot on the foods we eat and try to stockpile those items, so I can actually reduce my weekly food spending.

Most FAQ about stockpiling that I get asked: is if I want to reduce my weekly budget to $50, why would I stock up on 14 boxes of cereal that will cost me $10 and account for 20% of my weekly spending budget? That is actually a very good question, but if you compare the regular price of a box of cereal to the sale/after coupon price, you will notice the savings upward of 50% and that makes the deal worth it. My philosophy is that if your weekly shopping includes stocking up on the "loss leaders" (items that the store will not profit on, but are priced very cheap to get you to come in to the store) each week, then for the next 2 months you will not need to buy the product at all because you are well stocked. For example, this week you stockpile cheap cereal (14 boxes for $10), frozen vegetables (15 bags for $2.00- it's possible at Walmart with the right coupons) and some free toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, batteries etc. and next week you stockpile frozen meat/poultry/fish that is on sale. If this method is done weekly you will not need to purchase the "stockpiled items" bought during for a couple of months.

Bottom Line: Stockpile each week on items that are free, very cheap and the loss leaders. Even if stockpiling on those items will contribute a decent percentage to your weekly budget (within limits obviously) it is worth it because those items will not have to be purchased for a while. So overall, it will balance out. The key is to know when the price is right for you to stockpile on that item. Knowing whats a fantastic price takes time and effort, but is well worth it.

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