Saturday, July 9, 2011

All About Stockpiles!

What is a stockpile and why do you need one?
I know that the word “stockpile” has been tossed around a lot lately since Extreme Couponing began airing on TLC. Many of you have probably seen this show and seen the amount of stuff the people had on hand and been astounded! Many of you may also have thought their stockpiles were ridiculous and they should have been on the show Hoarders instead!  Others may have been envious, if not of the stuff at least of the organization. ;)

I am not here to judge anyone that was featured on that show, and I would like to remind you that you only saw a very skewed 15 minute window into their lives.

Like what you saw or not, they have the right idea, to whatever “extreme” they chose to take that idea. The whole point of having a small stockpile of items on hand, that you purchased *BEFORE* you needed them, is so that you NEVER run out and have to go out to the store and pay full price for that item. However, we have already talked about how THERE WILL BE ANOTHER SALE on that item. What that means is that you realistically only need to stock up on enough to get you to the next sale, not more than you will ever be able to use in your lifetime! If you have a ton of an item, but you can still get it free, by all means grab a couple more. You can always give them away! Last Christmas I cleaned out my toiletries by making gift baskets for my husband’s college aged siblings. And you know what, the very next week I was able to stock back up on toothpaste!

How do you build a stockpile?:
This is not something that is going to happen overnight. It takes time and will naturally happen as you shop the sales with your coupons. Each week I have been posting highlights of the best deals you can get using coupons at a number of stores in my area. The purpose of this is to help you know what is a good stock-up price, so you can add that item to your list while you are there shopping for other things.

It is hard to know how many items to buy when there is a stock-pile price though. I tend to get as many as I have coupons for (which usually isn’t more than 4-6, most of the time just 1-2). However, if you are not careful, you can actually end up spending *more* money trying to build up a stockpile.

The way I like to think about it is this: How many can you get for that items shelf cost? If you were needing the item anyway, you would have to buy it at full price. Let’s pretend it cost $3 originally and it is on sale for $2, and you have coupons for $1 off. This means you will pay $1, for what you were already planning on paying $3 for. If that is the case, why not buy 3? Sure you won’t be spending less *this* time, but you now have 3 of that item instead of 1, so that is two trips to the store where you will not need to purchase that item. That ends up saving you $6 in *future* purchases! That may not seem like a whole lot, but we are only talking about one item here. Imagine the savings if you shopped this way for every item you buy!

What you want to be careful not to do is buy 10 of them (spending $10 when you would have only spent $3), unless you have enough room in your budget to do so. Sure, it may be a great price, but if you blow your whole budget buying 3 years worth of laundry detergent, then you aren’t really helping out your current situation, and you aren’t going to have a whole lot of money left for food!

You may also realize from that example that if you are going to buy multiples of the item, you will also need multiples of the coupon. This is very important. You will need a way to get more than one of the same coupon (I’m not talking 20 here. I rule I’ve heard, and I think it’s a good one, is one per family member. That means I would need 4, but I often have less) . You can do this easily by buying more than one paper (I only do this on days when there are extra inserts because our papers cost $3 each!) You could also ask friends who do not coupon if you could have their inserts (I’ll be heading home from my trip with all my families coupons!). There are several places online that sell clipped coupons, but I have heard rumors about the possibility of them being shut down. =(

Printable coupons will normally allow you to print two copies per computer, so if you have more than one computer, you can print two from each, or ask a friend to print some for you if you need more.

If you decide you want to begin building a stockpile, a smart thing to do would be to set aside a portion of your weekly grocery/household item budget to be used for stockpiling.   Just to make the math easy, let's say you budget yourself $100/wk for food and other household items.  You want to spend less, but you want to build up a stock pile.  Try lowering what you spend on needed items to $90/wk (your coupon savings will help with that, too) and setting aside $10/wk to buy items that will go into your stockpile.  Since you want to buy stock-pile items at their lowest price, that $10 will go a lot farther than you think it will!  In a few month's time you will find fewer and fewer items showing up on your lists of needs, and you should be able to start permanently lowering your grocery budget.

Our next topic will be about matching coupons to sale prices, and this is going to help us see when an item is at a stock-pile price.  Subscribe to my emails to make sure you don't miss it.

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