Let’s Build A Stockpile
First let’s tackle something. A stockpile does not have to be ridiculously big, as you may have seen on T.V. A stockpile varies from family to family depending on the size and needs. I try to have at least three months of supplies on hand for my family of five. If there is a sale on something that’s FREE or will make me money and I don’t need it, it does NOT go in my stockpile! It goes straight to donation! *Exception-Sometimes when I know an event will happen in the near future, I will put it in my stockpile and wait to donate it at the event.*
- Take it slow. When you first start to coupon and build your stockpile, don’t buy a ton of items all at once! That defeats the purpose of couponing. You still need to keep it within your budget.
- Buy for the future. Don’t just buy what you need for that week when you are shopping. When you are trying to decide how much of a product to buy, base it on how much you need and use during a sale cycle. Sale cycles can last anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks. If your family goes through one box of cereal a week, buy enough to cover the next several weeks so you get the best possible price on it.
- Be smart. Don’t let the high of getting stuff for FREE take over! It is fun and exciting to coupon, especially when you see your bill drop. However, when you get home and realize you have so much stuff that you don’t need or too much that you can’t use before it expires, get rid of it!
- Donate it! When your stockpile starts showing signs of hoarding, be proactive and give. If you think it’s FUN to get FREE stuff, then you will love the feeling of donating. It’s another type of high. There are so many places you can donate to. Local food banks, churches, friends, and nonprofit events are great examples.
Overall, stockpiling can be very healthy if done the correct way. Don’t focus on it too much to where your attention strays from the most important things in your life.
Let’s Get Organized
There are four basic ways to organize your coupons. Choose the one that best fits your organization habits, as well as your time management. I am listing them in my favorite order.
1. Keep your Inserts Whole (No Sunday Clipping)
This method saves a lot as time as far as clipping coupons. Let’s face it; by the time some coupons expire there are several we haven’t used. That’s ok. Don’t use a coupon just because you have it. Use it because it’s a great deal. Because of this you might not want to spend your time clipping every coupon in the paper.
Get a file box with separate files. Inside each file put manila folders in it for the inserts. So, if there are four weeks in the month, put four manila folders inside the file. You will have twelve files, each with folders inside to hold the inserts of each week in the month. So, I label each file Jan-Dec. Then so I can reuse the manila folders each year I label the folders 1-4(or 5). The first set of Sunday paper inserts go into the folder that says one, and so on from there. When you file away your inserts mark the date big on the front of the insert so you don’t have to waste time finding the tiny print on the spine.
You are probably wondering how you will ever find your coupons if you use this method. Simple. You can use the coupon database as you make your grocery list to type in the items and cut them as you go. This way you only cut what you are shopping for that day. Also, if you follow a store’s weekly match up prices, the coupon long with where it is located will show up underneath the item. This method saves a lot of time for those of you looking for a quick way. The only downside to this method is when you are shopping and there is a product on surprise clearance, you won’t have your coupons with you. But if you don’t mind missing a few deals and saving more time, this method is for you.
2. Portable File Box
This method is almost exactly like the first except you use a portable file case. It looks like a smaller version of a briefcase, so you can actually take all your coupons with you! When using this method, you still keep the inserts whole and only clip as you go. However, just to make sure you never miss a great deal in the store you can carry your case with you at all times. This usually works best is you have a smart phone or some type of tablet so you can search exactly where the coupon is located using the coupon database. Remember, we use the coupon database because it lets us know where a coupon can be found in the insert and how much it is for.
3. Check File
For this organization method you will need a small-medium accordion file with separated pockets. Leave the first pocket empty because as you shop you will find the coupons you need and place them here. Label the rest of the tabs with YOUR most popular items. Ex. Baby, Toiletries, Frozen, etc. Even though it might not take that much time to organize your coupons using this method, it will take longer making your grocery list or just using it in the store. Also, if you have a bigger family and buy more than one paper, your folder will eventually become too small.
4. Three Ring Binder
This is the most popular filing method among couponers. With saying that, it is also the most time consuming. For those of you looking to save time and money, this is not for you. Go with #1. If you have time to put into cutting, organizing, cleaning out when expired, then this is a good option. A plus is that you will always have the coupons with you in the store so if there is ever an unadvertised deal, you will be prepared.
You will need a three ring binder (one that zips) with dividers and baseball card holders. Label the dividers to your liking. Place your coupons (with multiples together) in the card holders so you can see each coupon. That’s it! You have all your coupons in one place and you are ready to shop. I still recommend planning your list and coupons before you get to the store, just to save on store time. But having your binder with you can help on last minute decision purchases.
If you are brand new, this is the place for you! Take a deep breath, and try not to get overwhelmed.
Where to get coupons
The Sunday Newspaper. This is a great source for coupons. Buy the largest city in your areas paper. Ex. AJC, Savannah, Augusta, Birmingham… These papers will have the most and best coupons. Papers and inserts vary sometimes from city to city, so don’t be surprised if your paper has one less insert than another. If you are shopping for a larger family, I recommend buying at least two papers (if not more depending on your family size). Sometimes you can buy the paper in a double pack and they are discounted!
Online printables. You can find many great coupons online, and they are only a click away! When printing a coupon from the internet coupon sites, remember you can print two of each coupon per computer. So, if you have two computers, you can print a coupon four times! Go here for a list of internet printable sites.
In the stores. Many stores come out with coupon booklets. These booklets will contain either store coupons or manufacturer’s coupons. Also, when you are in a store shopping, always be on the lookout for the little red boxes that spit out coupons! These are called blinkies. Even if you are not going to use the coupon right away, put it away for when a sale comes around for that item. If you see a store employee giving out free samples, head over that way! Even if you don’t want to try the sample in the store, the employee will be handing out great coupons for the sample product!
Ask family and friends. You will be surprised at how many people you know that throw out their coupons! Just ask them if you can take them off their hands.
1. Sale Cycles and Stocking up
Now that you know where to get your coupons, it’s time to shop! But wait, you don’t know what to shop for. Should you just get what you get every week? NO. Now that you have started the coupon process, forget how you used to shop for groceries. Let’s save some money!
Everything goes on sale, yes even groceries! Almost everything in the store has a rock bottom price that it will reach when on sale. That’s when you want to buy. Most sale cycles happen every six weeks. When that bottom low price shows up, stock up ONLY to last you about six weeks. You DO NOT have to clear the shelves! It will go on sale again! You do want to get enough though that it will last until the sale comes around again.
2. Combine the Coupons with the Sale
You are already getting a great deal on a product when it’s on sale. So if you do not want to deal with coupons (not recommended) then just focus on buying items on sale. For the optimal savings experience, add a coupon to a sale! It’s like double the savings!
EX. Box of cereal
Reg. Price $4
Sale Price $2
Coupon $1 off
Final Price $1 for a $4 box of cereal!
Yay! Isn’t that FUN?
Now go get organized so you can put your grocery list together!!!