Monday, January 23, 2012

Stockpiling and Coupons

There has been a lot of buzz on cable television about coupons and the extremes people go to using and redeeming them. Putting the hype aside, coupons are a great way to build up your stocks of  supplies in the event of a long or short term emergency. 

I have clipped coupons on and off again for a few years. The problem was the cost of obtaining coupons was never greater than the savings. That was because I was not using them correctly i later found out. So after reading and researching (there are plenty of good websites out there with coupon information), I jumped back in with both feet and have seen some real coupon success. As of right now, because of judicious coupon usage, I have managed to stockpile a year or better of toothpaste, clothes detergent, deodorant, dish soap, and other household items. 

Here's how I did it. 

First, watch the sales at your local market. I generally shop at Kroger as it is close enough to walk to (you have to take into account distance, time and gasoline for total savings) and has good prices compared to the Albertsons in my neighborhood. The sale flyer comes out at the beginning of the week and outlines what products are one sale and specials being run. Reading the flyer only helps if you understand the pricing before hand. For instance, in this week's flyer, Kroger claimed that Chef-Boy-R-Dee canned goods were on sale at $1 each. I know from experience, that is the same price they sell it for most weeks so there was no real savings. 

Hamburger Helper (good grocery item to stockpile) was on sale for $1 though. Now with that information, I check my coupons and found that I had a coupon for .40 off each box of HH if I purchased four or more. My Kroger also doubles coupons up to .50, so my total spend on a box, which normally retails for $1.59 per box was .20 per box. Not bad. So I was able to buy ten boxes and store them away in the pantry. 

Next up, deodorant. Normally 2.99 each, marked down during a Proctor and Gamble promotion to .99 if you bought four. I had a coupon for $1 off if purchasing two which the store doubled an additional .50 so the 2.99 product which ended up only costing me a little more than .60 each. 

Toothpaste is one of the most coupon friendly purchases available. Watch the toothpaste aisle for special price reductions (the store does this frequently) and save your toothpaste coupons. I normally never pay more than .39 - .59 for a large container of toothpaste and sometimes get name brands, like Colgate and Crest, free or nearly so.

Kroger, and other stores, also do a thing called "e-coupons" which can be downloaded to your frequent shopper card and can add up to savings as well. Normally, the coupons are only .40 or .50 each and by policy, cannot be doubled. But do add up quickly for products sale priced at $1 or less. 

Some people sign up for manufacturers coupons online, but I find that most of these are duplicates of my store's specials or already found in the news paper. Between my own copy of the paper and two of my neighbors (who don't do coupons), I have plenty for each shopping trip I make. 

Frequent shopper cards are a must for using coupons as they allow shoppers to get extra savings not normally available. The complaint from some people is that these cards track your purchases thereby allowing some insidious future force the ability to know what you bought, how much and when. The secret to dealing with this is to simply not put your accurate home address on your frequent shopper card. They don't check and the only problem is you may miss out on some mail outs with special deals. 

My only complaint about couponing is I have not figured out a way to save on things like fresh produce or meat as my store never has coupons for these things. If anyone has the secret there, I love to hear it.  

I spend no more than one hour a week going through coupons, visiting the store website, and making my grocery list for the week. This is a small time commitment for the amount of money I save grocery shopping. I am going to shop, so I might as well save some money doing it and build up my supplies at the same time. 

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