Fans of my teaching are proud to call themselves Super-Couponers. These smart shoppers know that it takes more than coupons to save big on groceries. To get the best deals, stockpiling goes hand in hand with coupon use. Buying a little more than we need right now, when prices are low, pays off extremely well, because prices at the grocery store fluctuate.
My supermarket recently had a sale on pasta sauce, an item which typically ranges between low and high prices. During the sale, the sauce was on sale for .99 a jar. Its regular price? -- $2.49.
Even without a coupon, I could buy two jars on sale for less than the regular price of one jar. A coupon good for $1 off the purchase of two reduces that great price even more, to less than 50 cents a jar. With two coupons, I bought four jars for less than $2 -- less than what one jar will sell for once this sale ends! Who wouldn't want to do this?
Lots of folks. Incredibly, some readers don't want to buy more than one of anything at a time. Judging from the mail I receive, some people are completely opposed to stocking up during a good sale. Here's a recent sampling from some anti-stockpilers:
"Tell me how to save big with coupons without stockpiling," one reader wrote. "I don't want all those groceries in my house, but I want to cut my grocery bill to $20 a week or less, like you do."
A note from another reader: "You keep talking about stocking up, but we don't want to tie up money in groceries sitting around. We are spending over $180 a week, though, and can't figure out how to save any more. Please help."
And another: "I do not want to store lots of groceries in my home. I only want to buy what I need this week and not two or three of everything. How can I save lots of money with coupons?"
It is difficult, if not impossible, to put together an effective savings strategy for anyone who doesn't stock up during sales. If you know something is priced lower than usual, the difference between what you spend on an item now and what you will spend when it's back at full price translates to real money in your pocket.
Here's a great analogy that I've often heard and used to explain why stockpiling saves so much money in the long run. Imagine you're a contractor building a house. The supplier for all of your lumber, drywall and plywood tells you that there will be a big sale on these items next week -- half the price they normally sell for!
Do you buy all of the supplies you need to finish the house? Or do you only buy what your crew will use that week, then return each week and pay full price for identical supplies until the house is complete?
If you only buy what you need that week, you miss an opportunity to save 50 percent on the same supplies you need to finish building the house. Perhaps you don't need them all today, but you will need them in the near future.
Stockpiling groceries is similar. While I always have groceries on hand, they are all items we will use in the next few weeks or months. You don't have to go crazy filling your home with groceries, either. I know coupon shoppers who keep small stockpiles in under-bed drawers or in plastic totes in a closet. Each dollar you spend buying something at half price that you know you will use, represents two dollars you won't spend on that same item down the road. Stocking up makes sense -- and saves cents!
Next week, we hear from a reader who views stocking up as a financial investment ... with a remarkable rate of return!
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.jillcataldo.com. E-mail your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.