By now you should be starting to feel pretty confident about your coupon skills. You’ve created a system for organizing your coupons, you’ve mastered the process of making your shopping list, and you are even getting good at filling your cart with sale items, and then making sure they ring up correctly. You’re starting to save a lot of money on your grocery bill, and you like it. You may even be surprised at how fun and addicting using coupons can be.
(If you are new to my blog or new to couponing, I strongly recommend that you start with Step 1 before reading any further. It will all make a lot more sense that way!)
Up to this point, we have mainly focused on the “how” of using coupons–how to get organized, how to make your list, how to shop, how to check-out. It has all been very practical, step-by-step advice on the physical process of saving money with coupons. But in order to take your coupon savings to the next level, you have to also understand the “why.” Delving into the “why” too soon can just be confusing, too much information all at once. But now that you’ve got the basics down pat, I think you’re ready to delve in a little further.
Saving signficant money with coupons happens only when you change your whole way of thinking. Most people, (including me, pre-coupons), simply make a list of what they need before going to the store, and then buy what’s on the list, regardless of whether it is on sale. Savvier shoppers may try to pick the cheapest brand, or even make an impulse buy on a sale item, but the general process is the same.
Coupon shopping is completely different. The goal is to buy as few “needed” items as possible, while mostly just stocking up on the items that are on sale. The key is to stock up when items are at their lowest price. Done cumulatively and consistently, week after week, you will soon have a well-stocked and pleasantly varied pantry of food to choose from. As your stockpile grows, you will find that your list of “needed” items goes down each week, resulting in lower and lower grocery bills each week.
After 2 weeks of coupon shopping, you may even have managed to get your stockpile off to a good start. This week you are going to keep working on building that stockpile, following the shopping guidelines from last week, as well as work on creating a functional stockpile somewhere in your home.
week 4 assignment:
- Make your list, gather your coupons, and go shopping according to the guidelines from week three. Since right now you are working on your stockpile, feel free to stock up on any item that you use regularly, so long as it is on sale for at least 50% off. Eventually you will be able to get more selective with your shopping and focus only on the very best deals, but at the beginning 50% is a great goal to shoot for. If you feel very motivated, you can repeat this process for multiple stores. The more stores you shop at, the faster you will build up your stockpile since different stores have different sale cycles.
- Create your stockpile pantry. Spend an afternoon reorganizing your pantry in a way that makes sense to you. Be sure to put the newest items in the back so that you use up the older products first. It is much easier to stay organized if you start organized, so before your pile of food becomes completely overwhelming in the next month or two, I highly recommend giving some thought to your system. Make your food items easy to spot and grab so that when you are planning your meals, you have no trouble finding an item. If you don’t have a pantry, try to make space somewhere else. Is there some space elsewhere in the house you can clear out, perhaps in the garage or a closet in an unused bedroom? Don’t be afraid to get creative! Trust me, you’ll need the space.
- Do some research on stockpiling & the “why” of couponing. There are a lot of great couponing websites & blogs out there, and I have tried to sift through them to find you some great articles that explain sales cycles and stockpiling better than I could. Read as many or as few as you like, or just keep this list handy to refer back to later.
And that’s it for this week: shop, stockpile, research. It might seem like a small assignment, but be prepared to spend several hours preparing your list, gathering your coupons, and doing your shopping (especially if you decide to go to more than one store), and depending on how organized you already are, getting your stockpile in order may be a challenge.
Stay tuned for next week’s assignment and, as always, please post any questions or comments you may have below. I do read all my comments, and I make an effort to respond and answer questions as best I can.