Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Coupon Without The Crazy: Stockpiling With Sanity

How did this past week go for you?  Are you still seeing some savings?  Starting to figure out what the process might look like for you?  Don't be afraid to try something, scratch it, and try something else!  If you missed the first part about downloading coupons you can find that here, if you're wanting a refresher course on paper coupons that can be found here, and if you're feeling totally confused as to how to put those into practice you can find practical ideas on how to create a grocery list here.

So stockpiling.  I can just imagine many of you telling me how you don't have space, you don't have the budget, you have reasons that you can't stockpile.  Remember how we're trying to do this whole coupon thing without going crazy?  Well that includes stocking up!  Since I've been using coupons The Husband and I have lived in two different apartments neither of which has had a ton of storage space and I have the pictures to prove it!

But let's start at the beginning.
Why stockpile?

Good question!  When you have bought multiples of any particular item at a really low price you now have what you need to get through the next couple of weeks or months.  This means that when you start to get low you get to take your time to wait for that item to be on sale or for you to have a coupon before you have to purchase it because you've completely run out.  If you didn't have a small stockpile you might notice you're out of something or running low enough that you have to buy more at whatever price the store has set whether or not you have a coupon.

The other reason to stockpile is that over time it allows you the freedom to skip a week of grocery shopping or to not use coupons without going over budget.  Some people like to budget in an extra $10-$20 a month in case they run into a good sale.  The Husband and I have a little flexibility in our budget but we actively try not to use it at all, it's simply there as a safety net, not to purposely stock up on anything.  As I mentioned last week we were able to go an entire month without major grocery shopping when I wasn't feeling well in my first trimester and even continued to skip the occasional week over the next couple of months.

How much should you have on hand?

When it comes to dry goods, cleaning supplies, or toiletries I aim for having two to three of each item unused in my stockpile.  There are exceptions here, items that we go through really slowly, like wet mop refills,  I don't keep any extra on hand and pay attention to how low we're getting and then start looking for good prices.  This means that when I only have one of an item in my stockpile I start looking for a good price and I only have to buy a couple more to have a complete stock again.  I never have more than will last for a couple of months in my apartment and I don't spend a ton of money each month building the pile.  I will generally look for one or two items each week to stock up on and then everything else is fresh ingredients that I need.

We've never had space for a second freezer but have managed to do really well using what we have to keep a good backlog of meat (much of which is bought from the clearance section, portioned into bags, and frozen as soon as I get home from the store so that it's still good whenever we decide to use it), breads (whenever we make bread I try to make two loaves and freeze one of them), and even milk.

Whenever I buy a vegetable that I'm not sure how to store to keep it fresh the longest I do a quick google search and have found a number of tricks that way.

Where does this mysterious space come from?

Let me show you pictures of how I've kept my stockpile in both of our apartments.

This is what my dry goods stockpile looked like at our last apartment.  Just cardboard boxes stacked on the floor of our coat closet.  The goal was to make everything easily accessible and visible so that I knew when I was starting to run out.  The extra cleaning supplies were kept in the same closet as the washer/dryer.  Toiletries were stored under the sink in the guest bathroom, and extra paper towels and toilet paper were stored in the garage.  This may sound like I had a lot scattered around the apartment but it really wasn't bad and the space wasn't being used for anything else.  

One of the things I really liked about this set up was that each space was very small so it really forced me to only keep a small back up, there simply wasn't room for much else!

This is what my current stockpile looks like.  One of my goals in the new apartment was to be able to keep everything in one place.  This is the top two thirds of one side of our hall closet.  As you can see I have more space and have amassed more of a stockpile.  Some of that is due to our intentional building up of it currently in preparation for baby to come any day now but I also have a bit more space which I think has inadvertently led me to keep more on hand.  The bottom of each shelf is lined with cardboard so that items sit evenly without falling through the cracks.  I'm still working on ways to best organize it so that I can see and have access to everything easily.  If anyone has any ideas I'd love to hear them!  I think my goal for the year will be to try and organize this better and free up one of the shelves as it's really not necessary for us to have this much on hand. 

So there you have it!  Stockpiling without needing to have a spare room to keep everything in.  If you've been following along and are trying to save some money with your grocery shopping please let me know how it goes!  If you're wanting more resources here are some places I spent a lot of time when figuring out how to start:

As you spend time reading about how to coupon online and talking with people you'll find that most of the information is the same, it's just stated in different ways with an emphasis on different parts.  So don't be discouraged if the first place you find advice seems overwhelming, keep looking until you find someone with a similar style to you and then learn from them.

Happy couponing!

***This post is linked up at Living Well, Spending Less***

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