Finally – a part 2 to my part 1 of couponing! Since the last time I posted, I was able to teach my father-in-law how to coupon (which was all about part 1). Now I’m going to show you how to actually save money and how to build a stockpile.
Rock bottom prices: All the people that I have taught to coupon (all three-ish) have complained of spending too much money when they couponed instead of saving money and have eventually quit because it cost too much or took too much time. I struggled with this too when I was just starting out. I would see a good sale on cereal that was 50% off so I would run out and go buy it. But while I was there, I also saw a great deal on razors! So I stocked up on that too. When I first started three years ago, I had no idea what my stock-up prices should be or really what the bottom price for an item was. For me, most condiments, tea, snacks, and body care items need to all be less than $0.50-$0.75 for me to buy. If I hit my limit on something (AKA running out of room on my stockpile shelves) those items need to be as close to free as I can get them. I will not pay for toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, or shampoo. I just can’t. When I have enough to donate or if I don’t have any room left, things have to be free.
Go through your pantry and think about what’s the lowest price you have ever paid for that item. If you think, “oh well, these were 3/$5 last week”, take that $1.66 and subtract fifty cents if you know coupons come out regularly for this brand. Make that stock-up price for that item $1.20 or lower. Continue through your pantry and write it down. This will help you in the long run!
Stacking: In order to make things absolutely free, I of course use manufacturers coupons as well as store coupons and store loyalty programs. Most stores, like CVS and Target, will allow you to stack a manufacturers coupon, a store coupon, and whatever their loyalty points/cash is. For CVS, this is Extrabucks. THIS is how I get things for free. At Target, you can use your Cartwheel and any gift cards from previous purchases. CVS is my go-to place for all those items that I won’t buy unless I can get them for free. Right now we are stocking up for a big donation that we will make at the beginning of next year for one of our local Missions, so free is great! Make sure to always browse their ad, their coupons from their website, any coupons that printed at the register last time, and your MQs (manufacturers coupons) before you leave for the store.
Stockpiling: Just saying the word “Stockpile” makes me feel like a hoarder sometimes. But I swear I’m not. Hoarders have dust on their stockpile and I sure don’t. Building my stockpile took blood, sweat and tears. And a whole lotta time. It’s not just something you can go out and buy in one afternoon. It is weeks of going to the store and scoring the items I can get for free and neatly organizing them on perfectly dusted shelves. You have to know what you use and how frequently you use it. Example: my husband uses an unworldly amount of deodorant. How? Who knows. But what I do know is that when the “good” (non-store brand) deodorant goes on sale and with coupons I can get it for less than $0.50, you better believe I am booking it to the store on Sunday morning to score that deal. The very next week that same stick of deodorant may still be on sale, but I can’t get it for free or less than my fifty cent limit so I won’t buy it. “But it’s less than a dollar! How could you pass that up???”…… uhm, have you seen my deodorant? I can’t bring myself to pay for that.
It’s all about knowing your limits and keeping things organized. I never shove anything into the backs of cabinets or randomly under our bathroom sink. You have to know where something is in order to use it. If you stick your deodorant somewhere random like under your kids’ bed and then suddenly run out of it, guess what! You probably won’t find it and then go out and pay FULL PRICE for something. Full price is the F word.
Time: I won’t lie to you. This takes time. Sure you can just spend an hour or two a week doing this or you could spend five or six. Don’t get into this over your head and think “I’m going to have the biggest stockpile and get so much stuff for cheap in one month it’s going to be great!!!” because you won’t. And you’ll get burnt out real fast. I experience coupon burnout about twice a year but all it takes is one good deal to brighten me back up.
I’m sure I could keep going on about coupons and how much I love them, but I’ll spare you. 🙂 For the month of August we are embarking on a new challenge! I’ll keep ya updated 🙂