Reader mail: Husband
questions her stockpiling

It's time again to answer some questions from readers like you who are learning to be Super-Couponers:

Q: "I have been following your method for about a month now and I'm having a lot of fun with this! But I am having trouble getting my husband to understand why I just bought 6 bottles of lotion at one time. I paid 49 cents each after coupons and I thought that was a good deal. But he thinks it's silly to buy more than we need. Help!"

A: It sounds like you're hitting a little stockpile resistance at home. Don't worry. It's temporary. Sometimes it's difficult to wrap our brains around buying more than we need for immediate use. As shoppers, we are conditioned to buy based on needs, versus buying strictly based on price.

But to understand why stockpiling groceries works so well, it's important to note why prices fluctuate so widely. Grocery stores operate on a pricing cycle that typically lasts 12 weeks. During that time, the price of every item in the store will rise and fall according to various sales. But the price of any given item will only be at its absolute lowest price just once during the 12-week period.

So, if you're not buying your items when their price is at that lowest point, you're paying more, needlessly. If we can buy a sufficient amount of a nonperishable item to last 12 weeks, we don't have to go to the store and get stuck paying full price for something when we "need" it. And that's the difference between needs-based shopping and price-based shopping. If we purchase our items when the price hits that low and store them at home, we can "shop at home" for that item when we actually do need it.

Your lotion is a great example of a good item to stockpile. It's easy to store and doesn't hit an expiration date for a very long time. You paid less than 50 cents a bottle and you've got enough lotion on hand to last your household the better part of a year. Had you purchased only one, when that bottle ran out you'd have to go to the store and pay close to $4 to replace it.

With your stockpile, you'll simply reach for the next bottle when you need it and you'll feel great knowing it cost you one-eighth the price of a regular-priced bottle. That makes terrific financial sense! Would your husband rather you spend eight times as much as you did? I bet not!

Q: "Could you help me with coupon stacking? My grocery store always offered its store coupons in the flier. But now, they started offering electronic coupons and I'm not sure how to stack my paper coupons with these."

A: Coupon stacking is a great way to save big! When we stack coupons, we combine a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon on the same item. And, when stores offer their coupons electronically, stacking works almost the same way.

First, you'll log in to your store's web site and activate your electronic coupons. Once activated, these coupons will automatically be deducted from your total when the clerk scans your store shopper's loyalty card during checkout. Stacking manufacturer coupons with electronic store coupons is even easier than stacking two paper coupons together, since there's less to clip!

Once you have viewed the list of online coupons loaded to your card, comb through the current week's circulars and your stash of previous week's circulars for coupons on those same items and take them with you to use during checkout. You'll receive the store's discount instantly via the electronic coupons on your card, and when the cashier scans your manufacturer coupons, you will receive those discounts on top of the others. You'll see both sets of savings on your receipt ... and a smaller end total, too!

Jill Cataldo, a coupon-workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her web site, www.super-couponing.com. E-mail your couponing coups and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.