Sunday, March 7, 2010

Stockpiling - the Why and the How - Focus on Saving Money

A few weeks back, I posted about the basics of creating a stockpile.  The focus of that post was on the basics of stockpiling and creating a stockpile for emergencies.  Today I will focus on creating a stockpile as a way to save money.

Question - How am I Saving Money if I am  Buying MORE?

As I started learning about creating a stockpile, I was hung up on spending money in order to SAVE money.  I understood the basic concept but had a hard time with the application.  I realized that when a stockpile is in place, a weekly grocery trip will NOT look like the normal weekly grocery trip.  It may look like your family eats a very unbalanced diet and generally a lot of just a few items. 

When you are just beginning to create a stockpile, it is vital to really know what the lowest price is for the items you use most.  The best way to learn lowest prices is by using a price book.  Simply track prices on a few items you use the most over the course of a month to 6 weeks.  You will start to see which store has the lowest price on what item at what time in the sales cycle (usually every 6 weeks or so).  I have created a beginner's price book with instructions that you are welcome to use for yourself or to create your own price book

As you are just starting out, buy what you need each week and when an item is at its lowest, buy a few extras.  If you reduce your spending a bit each week, you will have a little extra money in the budget to stock up.  Try to buy enough extras to last you until the next sales cycle. 

Remember - add coupons to sales for maximum savings. If you know an item will be at rock bottom price this week, use the coupons you have, trade with friends, and order extras from a service like MyCouponHunter (a favorite of mine).

Warning - it is easy to go overboard and break the budget.  Be careful!  Take baby steps! It takes many months to build a good stockpile.

Warning - don't believe stores when they say an item is on sale.  Often, the price will be rock bottom and it is not called a sale.   At some other point, as the price creeps up, but is still below the normal shelf price, a sale will be announced.  This is why it is so important to know what the rock bottom price is.

Question - I STILL Don't Understand How This Method Will Save Me Money.

If you take your time and carefully stock up (adding in coupons with sales for even more savings), you will essentially never be paying full price for your groceries again.  I repeat - it takes time.  With the price book method, you can save money on items that don't normally have coupons. 

Question - Do I Only Save Money on the Ten Items?  What About the Rest of My Groceries?

Once you do your first price book, you will know the lowest price for those items.  Move on to another 5 - 10 items until you discover their lowest prices.  You can take each price sheet and form a master list.  Don't forget the drug stores like CVS and Rite Aid.

Question - What If I Find a Freebie Item?

At times, you can find freebies after extra bucks at CVS or freebies after rebate at Rite Aid (or Register Rewards at Walgreens).  If you have the cash to get the item up front or have rewards from previous shopping to cover it, by all means get it!  Don't forget to add in coupons to make items completely free or even to offer overage after rewards.

As an example, I have been stockpiling toothpaste using freebies or near-freebies at drug stores.  I have not paid more than $.50 after rewards for a tube of toothpaste in a year.  Assume I paid $.50 for each tube.  Assume I purchased tubes that are normally around $4 (most Crest/Colgate are).  If we use one tube per month as a family, we would pay $48 in a year.  We typically use one tube every two to three weeks.  Let's say three weeks.  Our yearly toothpaste cost is $69.20.  By stocking up on freebies (and not being picky about brands to a certain extent), I have spent $6 on toothpaste this year for a savings of $63.20.  Remember, I actually saved a bit more because I didn't pay $.50 for every tube - some I got free. 

I have done similar things with body wash and shampoos.  The savings really adds up!

Question - What If I End Up With Too Much of an Item?

This is my favorite problem to have!  If I end up with too much of something, I donate it.  Some coupon users stock up on items to sell at garage sales (half priced toothpaste is a deal for someone who doesn't seek out the freebies).  I don't have the time or energy to do the garage sale thing.  I would rather bless others by giving my surplus away.  I give to family members and friends.  I give to the soup kitchen and free healthcare clinics.  Just recently, a local organization had a request for baby items after a family lost everything in a fire.  I was able to donate diapers, wipes, clothes, books, toys, and baby toiletries that I had on hand as extras.  I just love being able to "pay it forward."  We don't have much extra cash, but we do have extras of daily necessities that we can easily share with others in need.

Warning - The great feeling from blessing other is ADDICTIVE!  It can spur you on to bargain hunt even more to be better prepared the next time a need arises!

Take a few moments and check out the STOCKPILE tab at the top of the main page.  You will find pictures of various stockpiles.  I love seeing pictures of other stockpiles - it helps me see how I can improve mine!  If you have pictures of your own stockpile, no matter how small or how vast, I'd love to see them and possibly add them to this page!  Just send me an email!


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