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COUPON QUEEN: The joys of stockpiling

Special Photo: Jill Cataldo saves hundreds on groceries by making the most of the common coupon. You can, too.

Special Photo: Jill Cataldo saves hundreds on groceries by making the most of the common coupon. You can, too.

A couple of months ago, we heard from readers who simply do not want to stock up on groceries at any cost, for any reason. That column resulted in a flood of e-mail in support of stockpiling. Many readers make excellent points about stocking up. Listen in:

“I read your column about stocking up, and those who refuse to do it. Our church leaders have suggested food storage for ages! Currently, they suggest we build up a three-month supply of the items we use daily. After we have established a three-month supply, they suggest we work toward a year supply of the basics, such as flour, shortening, sugar and so on. College students are asked to have a two-week supply of food, and enough money to get themselves home.

“Anyone who voluntarily won’t stock up must believe the following:

• That they and their family will never experience financial hardship.

• That our country’s food production industry and/or transportation system will never break down in any way.

• That fuel costs will always be reasonable.

• That events that keep food from reaching the grocery shelf will never occur.

• That their ability to get to the grocery store will never be impaired by injury, illness or car trouble.

“Recent world events are evidence that crazy things happen! Stocking up, even minimally, is equal to peace of mind!”

I agree. During our last big snowstorm in Chicago, the local news was buzzing with stories about how severe the storm would be, showing video of area supermarkets running out of staples as people rushed to the store to buy groceries before the storm hit. I turned to my husband and said, “Let it snow. We don’t have to leave the house for weeks!” We were only snowed in for about three days, but we never worried about eating well. Neither did any of my Super-Couponing blog readers, who posted messages about how well-prepared they were when three feet of snow brought most of Chicago to a beautiful, impassable standstill.

Here are some more great stockpiling comments and ideas from readers:

“The advantages of stockpiling go beyond the obvious cost issue. Having a stockpile protects you from running out. That extra bottle of mustard or container of grated cheese is really appreciated when you are in your slippers, the grocery store is 10 miles away, and it is 10 degrees outside. Stockpiled inventory is particularly useful when you have a baby.

“Having a stockpile protects you against rises in prices, too. For months, analysts and corporate executives have been chanting about the advantages to business of raising prices. It is by shopping sales, couponing and stockpiling that consumers can fight these plans.”

And another: “I just wanted to write you a quick note on how coupons and stockpiling paid off for us. I budget a set amount when I go grocery shopping, and I use the store flyer plus a handful of coupons. Then, I look at the amount I saved with coupons and I put that dollar amount into a separate bank account. I also purchase a few extra items to stockpile. A few months ago, I had surgery. I am still out of work, but because of these two ideas, we have been able to keep our heads above water and I am able to shop from my freezer and cupboards most nights.”

And, a final, simple, do-the-math example: “Sometimes, you can save an incredible amount by stockpiling. When we lived in Kauai, taco sauce was only available in eight-ounce, tourist-size bottles for $2.90 a bottle. But it was available in Honolulu for $1 a 16-ounce bottle. I was often asked why I was carrying home a briefcase with 20 bottles of taco sauce. Simple –– I was saving $96! It is always about balancing costs and benefits. You and I love the game. Others don’t.”

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 jill@ctwfeatures.com.