I am a seasoned couponer and I have a small stockpile of items my family regularly uses. In the beginning, friends and family didn’t seem to understand the point of the stockpile. I explained that by buying a lot of an item when it’s dirt cheap, I won’t have to buy it again until the next deal comes around. This, of course, means that I should never pay full price again. Nevertheless, I was often met with blank stares or a perplexed, “But why do you need 20 boxes of cereal?”
That is when I realized that the purpose of a stockpile may not be clear to those who don’t have one. With that in mind, I found an excellent explanation of stockpiling over at WeUseCoupons.com that I would like to share with you here. And if you are not already a member of We Use Coupons, go now and sign up. Membership is totally free and it gives you info on all the best coupon deals, couponing advice, advance copies of sales ads, and more.
In the meantime, check out this very good explanation of stockpiling:
by Nathan Engels
Why stockpile is a great question that I get all the time in coupon classes. Why in the world would you buy 20 of something?? Well it’s simple, when I buy a years supply of something that is FREE, I take it off my grocery list for a year!! As my stockpile grows I am able to remove stockpiled items from my weekly grocery list. This in turn saves me hundreds of dollars every week!!
What is a stockpile?
A stockpile is a reserve of items you use on a weekly or monthly basis. Generally, stockpiles are built over time, they just don’t magically appear! They are built by buying free items or items that are deeply discounted with coupons. I started my stockpile with 3 bottles of shampoo and oatmeal! Each week I added to my stockpile and now, many of my friends think I have a store!!
So how do you get started?
First I would say, make sure to read some of the basic couponing articles found on WeUseCoupons. If you master basic couponing techniques, you’re on your way to have a garage full of stuff!!
If I buy more, won’t my grocery bill go UP not down?
The entire stockpiling concept is built on saving money! Almost every week I spend around the same amount of money on groceries, and my stockpile grows! Some weeks I spend a little more, some a little less. BUT building a stockpile should NOT negatively affect your budget. If soup is on sale for $.25 per can, I check the expiration date, estimate how many I will use and buy appropriately. I don’t go out and say, “I want 500 cans because it’s cheap!” Be practical!! Don’t spend your entire grocery budget on stockpiling two items that you won’t use all that often.
Another important stockpiling tip, buy the free stuff in mass!! If it’s free, stockup until your heart’s content! If soup is free, buy as many as you can! If you don’t use it all, give it away to friends, neighbors or the food bank!!
It takes time
Hardcore stockpilers will tell you flat out, it takes at least 6 months or longer of dedication to build a good size stockpile. Each week the sales change, which means that something new is free or extremely cheap. After stockpiling for months on end, your stockpile will be diverse, but not perfect! You may also run out of something. Give it time, and learn your own habits!
My family is destroying my stockpile!!
I hear this a lot. Imagine eating generic captain crunch for years on end and then one day, mommy brings home the real stuff! Kids just love the shine of the new box, and because mommy bought not just one box but TEN, the kids and husband tear into 6 boxes in the first week! This is a common problem, but know that it will pass! After a while that new novelty will wear off to just another cereal.
How much should I stockpile?
When you find an item that is free or extremely cheap when using a coupon, the inevitable question arises, how much should I buy? To begin, you need to figure out how large of a supply you need! We recommend having at least a minimum of 3 months on hand, but 6 months is preferable. This will allow you to take that item off your grocery list for six months. Sales are cyclical, which means that eventually that item that you are purchasing today, will eventually go on sale down the road again. How much of a particular item you need depends on your family and their usage. A family with 4 teenagers is going to use a lot more deodorant than a family with a newborn and a toddler. Determine how much your family needs by estimating how much they use in a given week or month.
Stockpiling is Ongoing
Just because you got 10 boxes of cereal for free doesn’t mean you will pass up the next cereal sale. You are never “finished” with a stockpile. Sales and cycles are happening constantly. If cereal is free again don’t hesitate to buy more! As soon as you get a full supply of one item, you will run low on another. Each week is different and after 4 months of not buying cereal ,you may be running low!
Stockpiling is stupid, I just go to Costco or Sams.
Well go right ahead and spend hundreds of dollars! Buying in bulk isn’t stockpiling, it’s wasting money. Sams is expensive! Let me say that again, Sams is very expensive! 90% of the time, purchasing in bulk at a warehouse store is not cheap! I have friends that brag about their warehouse purchases and I just smile on the inside. That item they were bragging about was FREE three weeks ago and I have hundreds of them in my basement! I discourage stockpiling items that you actually have to pay for UNLESS you can’t get a good deal on a regular basis. Even then, don’t buy at stockpile levels, simply buy enough to last until you DO find the super deal elsewhere.
Remember, at warehouse stores, items may be cheaper in bulk, but most are never stockpile-worthy.
Issues that arise
Some stockpilers HATE paying for anything! Sometimes that leads to small problems down the road. For example, I hate paying for mac and cheese. I rarely have a supply of it because I can’t ever seem to get it entirely free. Luckily we don’t eat it much, but when I want it, sometimes I have to run and pay full price for one box at the convenient store (A horrible thing).
Brand loyalty is another issue when stockpiling. Most couponers have thrown brand loyality out the door, but some people only use Dawn. If you find that item on sale and you have a coupon, it may be worth overbuying by normal standards if you know it’s the only brand that you will use and it doesn’t often go on sale.
Coupon shortages are a common problem with stockpiliers! If you want to buy 30 of something you are going to need the coupons to do it. Ebay and clipping services are your friend! Buying multiple papers will also help. Get the coupons any way you can. You will even find people like me who will even dumpster dive for them!!
Controlling your Ever Growing Stockpile
Organization & Space
“Ummm honey, where should I put the 200 canisters of oatmeal you bought at Wal-mart? There isn’t any more room in the closet!!” Space is a constant struggle as your stockpile grows. My stockpile started on a shelf in the garage and has literally taken over then ENTIRE garage. I built shelves because my stockpile took over! Being organized is really important.
A deal isn’t a deal unless you are actually going to use the item before it spoils. ALWAYS check items before stocking up! Even water has an expiration date. Determine realistically how much your family will use and then buy the appropriate amount.
We hope that you understand the basics of why to stockpile with this article. Stockpiling is a great way to reduce your grocery list every week. By stocking up on an item for a year, you no longer have to buy it every week. If you can get that item for FREE, imagine how much money you will save EVERY WEEK. Stockpiling affects your bottom line and I believe it is the key to literally saving THOUSANDS every year on your grocery bill!
This article is copyright Nathan Engels. No portion may be may be copied, reproduced or posted in any form without written permisison of the author.
–Courtesy of WeUseCoupons.com, used with permission.