Couponing and Budgets

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Couponing & Budgets - A week by week breakdown of how to coupon and build a stockpile slowly and without breaking the bank!

Couponing and Budgets

Yesterday, I was asked a question by a new member here at HotCouponWorld that I thought was interesting. She sent me a message stating that she was new to using coupons and had done her first shopping trip and had spent $300 at the grocery store and had only saved $80.

She was wondering how she can flip those numbers and save $300 and only spend $80. This is a great question because it is part of the misconception that right out of the gate you should be able to save big bucks.

The truth is as a new couponer saving $80 is great! So many folk have now seen the TV show Extreme Couponing on TLC and so many folks are eager to try it out, and they can save, however the expectation that when you are first out of the gate with your first fist full of coupons that you are going to start saving 70-80 or 90% off your groceries is probably not going to happen.

So I wanted to take a moment to talk about how to coupon and stay within your budget and how not to end up spending more money than you normally would.

Setting A Grocery Budget

Even if you don’t have a budget for anything else in your finances it is important to set yourself up with a grocery budget. You cannot actually save money if you have no idea how much money you are spending. And if you know how much you are already spending on groceries then you have a benchmark for how much you are saving.

When I first started couponing we had a family of 5 (two adults and 3 kids) plus 2 dogs and two cats and our grocery budget was $400 a month. My grocery budget has actually never changed in the 7+ years I have been couponing. When I first started couponing my kids were 14, 6 and a newborn. Then 18 months or so later we added to our family our twins. Making our family a family of 7, and our budget was still $400 a month and I was able to get thousands of dollar’s worth of groceries for my $400 budget. Now that 14 year old is an adult and out on her own (although she still “shops at moms” from time to time). And our family is down to 6, although the kids at home are growing and so are their appetites. My budget is still $400 a month.

So, you may be thinking if your budget has stayed the same for 7+ years are you really saving any money. The answer is yes, with my $400 budget I am able to get at the very least double the amount of groceries than I could before I started couponing. Before I started couponing $400 did not go very far. We ate a lot of Hamburger Helper without the hamburger. Now we eat like kings (or queens). We have a stockpile full of groceries in our garage, two freezers full of meat, veggies, cheese and other good stuff. Before couponing we were not able to eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies outside of the cheapest things like bananas, oranges, apples, potatoes and carrots.

Now, because I save money on just about everything else I am able to afford more fresh produce in our budget and usually spend right around half of my grocery budget on produce alone, thus we are able to eat healthier. After 7+ years of couponing I am also able to actually save some of the money from my grocery budget. And when I say save, I mean actually put money in the bank and save it. It took quite a few years of working really hard but the savings I was able to get from using coupons and learning to live frugally allowed us to pay off our debt and buy our first house. Now my actual savings of anywhere from $50-$100 a month (that means we usually only spend $300 to $350 a month for a family of 6 plus now we have three cats and three dogs and a guinea pig) goes towards more fun things like fixing up our new home or mini vacations.

OK so enough about me…here is how it all works:

Create a Grocery Budget

In order to save money you need to know how much you are actually spending on groceries each month. What you are spending right now on groceries (food, health and beauty products, household items like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, diapers, wipes, formula, pet food etc) is going to be your starting budget. Figure out what you are spending and I want you to write it down on a piece of paper. Your goal is now to see how you can get more groceries for your money and then begin to whittle that starting number down. If you do not know how much you are spending on groceries, go through your receipts, bank statements and check book for the past 3 months or so and tally it up. You need to have a starting point.

Using coupons and building your stockpile

If you are new to HotCouponWorld the first place we want you to check out is our Couponing 101 page (it’s located at the top of each and every page here. These lessons are the foundations of how to coupon and save. However a lot of new folks tend to skip over the whole stockpiling part. They may not see the value in it or they worry that we are talking about the crazy “hoarding” aspect of it as portrayed on the Extreme Couponing show. This is their first mistake because stockpiling is one of the single biggest keys to saving money with coupons. Without that key you will never be able to open the door to saving the “big bucks” with coupons.

Now that you have a grocery budget I want you to decide on a number that you can pull from that allotted amount of money that you can dedicate to stockpiling. When I first started couponing I allotted $10 a week to stockpiling. And then the rest of my budget ($90 a week) was spent on the normal everyday items that my family needed to eat and use. As you build your stockpile that number is going to shift.

Your goal is to find whatever deals you can each week that meet these four requirements:

  1. Free – If something is free after coupons purchase it and stockpile it. Take into account that depending on where you live you may still need to pay sales tax.
  2. Cheap – Aim for at least 50% off retail or cheaper than the price of generics.
  3. You can store it – It does not make sense to buy 100 bags of frozen veggies if you do not have room in your freezer for them.
  4. Within your stockpiling budget – This one is important! You need to stay within the set amount in your budget that is dedicated to stockpiling.

The Break Down

Let’s break it down and let me give you an example of what this is going to end up looking like each week over the course of time. In the following examples I am going to use my budget of $100 a week, your budget may be more or less depending on your circumstances and needs. The $100 a month at the beginning is going to be divided into $10 dedicated stockpile money and $90 for regular groceries. Those numbers are going to shift as we build our stockpile.


Week 1:

There is a sale on Crest toothpaste for $1.00 and with my coupons I can get 10 tubes for free. – Total spent is $0.00

At another grocery store I there is a deal on Kraft cheese $2.00 each, I have $1.00/1 coupons making each package $1.00 after coupons. I have (10) $1.00/1 coupons making it $1.00 a package so I get 10 packages – Total spent – $10.00

My stockpile budget for this week is now spent. I use the rest of my grocery budget of $90 to buy the normal things my family needs.

In my stockpile

  • 10 tubes of toothpaste
  • 10 packages of string cheese

Week 2:

Deodorant is on sale buy one get one free and I have 6 coupons for buy one get one free, that makes 2 free deodorants for each coupon I have, so I pick up 12 sticks of deodorant for free – Total spent is $0.00

StarKist tuna is on sale for 10 for $10 and I have 20 coupons for 50¢ off 1. That makes each pouch of Tuna only 50¢ each – Total spent is $10.00

My stockpile budget for this week is now spent. I use the rest of my grocery budget of $90 to buy the normal things my family needs.

In my stockpile

  • 10 tubes of toothpaste
  • 10 packages of string cheese
  • 12 sticks of deodorant
  • 20 pouches of tuna

Week 3:

This week there is a big sale on Kellogg’s cereal, it’s on sale $1.88 a box and I have 10 coupons for $1.00/1 making each box only 88¢ each – Total spent $8.80

At another store I find Barilla pasta is on clearance (with a 1 year expiration date) for 40¢ a box, I have 20 coupons for $0.35/1 making it just 5¢ a package after coupon – Total spent $1.00

I have spent $9.80 from my stockpile budget (close enough). I use the rest of my grocery budget of $90 to buy the normal things my family needs.

In my stockpile

  • 10 tubes of toothpaste
  • 10 packages of string cheese
  • 12 sticks of deodorant
  • 20 pouches of tuna
  • 10 boxes of cereal
  • 20 packages of pasta

Week 4:

It’s a slow week this week for sales and I cannot find anything that is free or a great deal because I don’t have any coupons to go with the sale. But, there is a great deal going on this week on boneless skinless chicken breasts at 99¢ a lb. So I am going to go ahead and stock up and get 10 pounds and freeze it. – Total spent $9.90

I have spent $9.90 from my stockpile budget. ). I use the rest of my grocery budget of $90 to buy the normal things my family needs.

In my stockpile

  • 10 tubes of toothpaste
  • 10 packages of string cheese
  • 12 sticks of deodorant
  • 20 pouches of tuna
  • 10 boxes of cereal
  • 20 packages of pasta
  • 10 pounds of chicken breasts

Here is a bit of a turning point…take a look at the things I have started stockpiling! Now I have some ingredients that I can use to plan my meals around. I cannot eat the toothpaste or deodorant but I can eat the cereal, string cheese, tuna, cereal, pasta and chicken. These are things that I can now scratch off your weekly shopping list. I think I am going to see if I can shift $5 from my regular grocery budget on over to my stockpiling budget. Now my stockpile budget is $15 and my regular grocery budget is $85 a week.


Week 5:

Laundry soap is on sale this week for $1.99 a jug and I have $1.00/1 coupons making it 99¢ a bottle. I do a ton of laundry so I am going to buy 15 jugs of laundry detergent with my 15 coupons – Total spent $14.85

I have two printable coupons for $3.00/1 package of Bic Razors and there are 5-packs of the razors for $2.99. I go ahead and grab 2 packages of razors (that is 10 razors total) and get them for free plus 2¢ overage that I will apply to the other items in my order – Total spent $0.00

I have spent $14.85 from my stockpile budget. ). I use the rest of my grocery budget of $85 to buy the normal things my family needs.

In my stockpile

  • 10 tubes of toothpaste
  • 10 packages of string cheese
  • 12 sticks of deodorant
  • 20 pouches of tuna
  • 10 boxes of cereal
  • 20 packages of pasta
  • 10 pounds of chicken breasts
  • 15 bottles of laundry detergent
  • 2 packages of 5 razors

Week 6:

Ragu pasta sauce is on sale $1.00 each and I have 10 coupons for $1.00/2. That means I can buy 10 jars of sauce for 50¢ each – Total spent $5.00

Quaker Instant Oatmeal is on sale $1.75 each and I have 9 coupons for $1.00/1. That means I can get 9 boxes for 75¢ each – Total spent $6.75

Pantene shampoo and conditioner is on sale for $3.00 and I have coupons for $2.00/1 making each bottle $1.00 each. This is my favorite brand of shampoo. I am going to buy 4 bottles – Total spent $4.00

I have spent $15.75 from my stockpile budget. (OH NO I went over budget, but only by 75¢ I can just take from my regular grocery budget, no worries there). I use the rest of my grocery budget of $84.25 to buy the normal things my family needs.

In my stockpile

  • 10 tubes of toothpaste
  • 10 packages of string cheese
  • 12 sticks of deodorant
  • 20 pouches of tuna
  • 10 boxes of cereal
  • 20 packages of pasta
  • 10 pounds of chicken breasts
  • 15 bottles of laundry detergent
  • 2 packages of 5 razors
  • 10 jars of pasta sauce
  • 9 boxes of instant oatmeal
  • 4 bottles of my favorite shampoo

Week 7:

There is high value coupon this week in my Sunday inserts for $3.00 off any bag of Pedigree dog food. My mission this week is to find out where I can get that dog food as cheap as possible. This is the brand of dog food my dogs eat and I want to stock up! I check all of the stores in my area to see who has the best price. Turns out one of my grocery stores sells a 5 lb. bag for $3.05 everyday price (no sale needed!) Great I have 20 coupons making each bag only 5¢ – Total spent: $1.00 (A DOLLAR FOR 100 POUNDS OF DOG FOOD! I am officially HOOKED!)

Other than the dog food there is not a whole lot to pick up. I check my now growing stash of coupons at the trial size section of my local “Mart” store and find will be great for when we go camping or as stocking stuffers. I get 14 trial size shampoos, hair sprays and single packs of laundry soap all for free – Total spent $0.00

While in the store I notice that strawberries are on sale for $1.99 a lb. So I pick up $14 worth of strawberries (about 7 lbs.), take them home and prepare them and freeze them – Total spent $14.00

I have spent $15 from my stockpile budget. ). I use the rest of my grocery budget of $85 to buy the normal things my family needs.

In my stockpile

  • 10 tubes of toothpaste
  • 10 packages of string cheese
  • 12 sticks of deodorant
  • 20 pouches of tuna
  • 10 boxes of cereal
  • 20 packages of pasta
  • 10 pounds of chicken breasts
  • 15 bottles of laundry detergent
  • 2 packages of 5 razors
  • 10 jars of pasta sauce
  • 9 boxes of instant oatmeal
  • 4 bottles of my favorite shampoo
  • 20 bags of dog food
  • 14 various trial size items
  • 7 pounds of strawberries

This is starting to get fun. My stockpile is growing and there are defiantly things that I don’t have to buy each week to plan and prepare meals for my family because I have them already in my stockpile. I can now make spaghetti, tuna sandwiches, cereal and oatmeal for breakfast and the kids have cheese snacks in their school lunches. Let’s take this up a notch! I am going to dedicate $20 now to stockpiling and only $80 a week to my regular grocery shopping.


Week 8:

Frozen vegetables are on sale 10 for $10.00. I have coupons for $0.75/1 making them only 25¢ I have 10 coupons – Total spent $2.50

Canned fruit is on sale for 50¢ a can and I have coupons for $0.50/3 making them 33¢ a can. I have 14 coupons so I am going to get 42 cans of fruit – Total spent $13.86

Window cleaner is on sale for $1.50 a bottle. I have coupons for $1.00/1 making them 50¢ a bottle. I have 6 coupons so I am going to get 6 bottles – Total spent $3.00

I have spent $19.36 from my stockpile budget. . I use the rest of my grocery budget of $80.64 to buy the normal things my family needs.

In my stockpile

  • 10 tubes of toothpaste
  • 10 packages of string cheese
  • 12 sticks of deodorant
  • 20 pouches of tuna
  • 10 boxes of cereal
  • 20 packages of pasta
  • 10 pounds of chicken breasts
  • 15 bottles of laundry detergent
  • 2 packages of 5 razors
  • 10 jars of pasta sauce
  • 9 boxes of instant oatmeal
  • 4 bottles of my favorite shampoo
  • 20 bags of dog food
  • 14 various trial size items
  • 7 pounds of strawberries
  • 10 bags of frozen vegetables
  • 42 cans of fruit
  • 6 bottles of window cleaner

Wow! After only 8 weeks of couponing I am really starting to see my stockpile grow. I think I have the hang of it now. I will just keep slowly building up my stockpile a few things at a time. The more I can stockpile the more items I have on hand at my house to plan meals out of instead of paying full price for those items each week or as I need them. Pretty soon I will be able to shift more and more from my regular grocery budget into my stockpile budget so I can buy more. Over time I am going to have more coupons too so that means more deals! Pretty soon I am going to run low on some of the items I stockpiled earlier, so that means I am going to need to make sure I have my coupons ready the next time those things are on sale. Cereal for example, those 10 boxes are not going to last very long when we eat two boxes a week. Next time I am going to try and buy more for my stockpile on the things we use a lot of.


So that is how it is done, one or two items each week that you stockpile. Build that up over time. Give yourself a good 6 months to a full year to really see the savings. It can take that long before you really see the full year of sale cycles. While there are some things that go on sale every 4-6 weeks, there are other things that only go on deep discounts two or three times a year. Keep in mind that you should always pay attention to seasonal produce and meat sales and stock up and freeze (or can) those items so that you have them later when the prices are higher.

Stockpiling is a mentality. You can carry on the concept to other things outside of groceries too. For example when the great back-to-school sales are going on I stockpile office supplies for both myself and my home office but also for the kids to have supplies all year long. There is nothing worse than having to pay $1.50 for a pack of notebook paper midyear when I know I can get for 5¢ a pack at the back-to-school sales.

Slow and steady wins the race! Hang in there and don’t give up!

78 COMMENTS

    • Cyndi – I was just making up coupons and sizes in this blog post. More as an illustration and example to show the concept of building your stockpile over time. However the $3.00 Pedigree coupon out right now is for the 8.8 Lb. size bag and there are stores that have this for a little over $3.00 so it can be done.

  1. GREAT blog! I just started couponing three weeks ago. I have had tremendous success in the HBA dept., but I really need to focus on the grocery side of it. Thanks so much for really mapping it out for us. I will try focusing on one to two items a week to build on instead of looking at the “immediate results” picture. Thanks again!!

  2. First things first. This is a great turorial that explains how the ball starts rolling in an easy to understand way. Thank you. I have been couponing for awhile but did not think of setting a grocery budget and dividing into “stockpile vs everyday”

    But I noticed a mistake on Week 6 with the Ragu unless I am missing something. Could be my mind I am missing.

    “Ragu pasta sauce is on sale $1.00 each and I have 10 coupons for $1.00/2. That means I can buy 20 jars of sauce for 50¢ each – Total spent $5.00”

    Wouldn’t that be $10.00? 20 Jars Ragu @ $1.00 each = $20.00 minus 10 $1.00 off 2 coupons($10.00) would be $10.00.

    Again Thank You

  3. Wow, what an awesome article, and how you quickly grew your stockpile. Nice, that reassures me that I will be able to do this. Now I finally understand the stockpiling concept. I’m so inspired now. Thank you for this article.

  4. I am so thankful for this! I am just starting to really coupon… I got 3 papers this week! and all 6 inserts! So I started clipping and putting them in a binder!
    Now to work on a price book for myself and to really start! I am really excited to show my hubby the stockpile stuff, because he is not thrilled with the idea of it!

    • Ashlee – The key to getting your hubby on board on the stockpile concept is to keep it manageable, set aside a dedicated space for it and do not let it take over your home. Also try to find deals on his favorite foods. Good luck!

  5. Deodorant is on sale buy one get one free and I have 6 coupons for buy one get one free, that makes 2 free deodorants for each coupon I have, so I pick up 12 sticks of deodorant for free – Total spent is $0.00.
    I don’t understand this. Can you help me please?

    • Linda – When a store has a item on sale for buy one get one free you are BUYing one and the store is giving you one for free. When you add in a buy one get one free coupon on top of that BOGO sale you are applying the BUY part of the coupon to the product you are getting BUYing. So the store is giving you one free and then the manufacture is giving you one free – thus two products for free. This can be YMMV (your’re mileage may vary) depending on your stores coupon policy. (Meaning some stores allow it, and some stores do not)

  6. great job with this post! I really like how you broke down what went into the stockpile each week so people could see it doesnt happen overnight but it will build a little each week.

  7. One more budgeting item that might be worth mentioning – budget the amount of money you use to purchase your coupons ie: newspapers, clipping services, postage stamps for trades etc. It can add up really fast, so now I put a set amount of money each week to my Paypal account and limit all my coupon, newspaper and stamp purchases to the amount in my Paypal account and not a penney OOP.

    • Fran – that is a good tip! I did not start buying coupons or inserts until about a year in but now I budget $15 a week. I don’t always spend that much each week. But it is indeed part of my overall budget (I am all about budgeting for everything!)

  8. FOr some reason the formatting of this article is off for me. Could you please e-mail me a copy of it. I was wanting to show some of the girls I work with. Thanks!!

  9. Hello great tips and got to give you a hand for feeding your family of seven on 100 a week over the last 7 years!! And I am sure you know that those growing boys have bigger appetites eat man size portions!!

    I was curious about the stockpiling the cereal. You walked us through 8 weeks and then said you would need more cereal because you eat 2 boxes a week. So after you stockpile an item do you continue to budget the item in your weekly grocery spending or do you start eating from your stock pile?? I am curious because I did a good cereal deal, but am now not buying it on my regular list and oops its gonna be time to get it soon.

    Thanks

    Michele

    • Michele – thanks for your comments. I do know those growing boys are going to have bigger appetites when they get bigger. My husband and I were talking about that the other day in how we are going to have to bump up the couponing and stockpiling when our three youngest are teens (right now we have 8 year old son and 6 year old boy/girl twins) and the thought of three teens eating me out of house and home has me frightened. LOL

      On your cereal question, in my example in the blog post I bought 10 boxes of cereal and if our family eats two boxes of cereal a week that would only last us 5 weeks, so by week 8 I would be out of cereal. If I am out of cereal then the goal would be to buy cereal (cheapest I can get it) in my regular grocery shopping till there is a better deal. However the REAL goal is to buy enough cereal (or whatever) to tide you over to last till the next stock up sale. The above example was just that an example. My real life goal however is 100 boxes of cereal in my stockpile. Cereal sales come around about every 4-6 weeks and so I buy enough new cereal to replenish my stockpile of cereal so that I have new flavors and varieties to prevent cereal boredom and to rotate my stock. Most cereal has a 2 year shelf life so it is OK to stockpile 1 years worth of cereal.

      If you are out of cereal – you are going to have to buy a weeks worth at whatever is the cheapest price (Generic, Malt-O-Meal bags, whatever you can find on halfway decent sale with coupons you have – always compare the cost per serving or cost per ounce)
      If you are running low – you are going to want to be hunting for a great deal so that you are not paying more for cereal than you have to.

      I usually buy 10-15 boxes of cereal each time there is a good sale. Maybe more, maybe less depending on what coupons I have. My own personal goal for cereal is $0.50 a box for most brands of cereal, $0.75 a box for my grown daughters favorite Corn Pops (she buys this off me when I get it) and $1.50 a box for Grape Nuts which is my husbands favorite cereal. There are times that I can get cereal for free and when I can I stock up big time. Other than that I keep it reasonable (for my family).

      Right now my budget is about 50/50 for stockpiling and regular groceries. As I mentioned above I can easily spend $50 a week on produce alone. And I don’t always spend my $50 stockpile budget each week. Last week for example I spent $45 on produce, $7 on meat (hamburger) and about $20 on stockpiling a few items (namely hair spray and frozen veggies). That is is. We eat primarily from our stockpile. For example I made an awesome Taco soup the other night that was 100% made from items in my stockpile. But that comes after some time.

      You most definitely eat and use the items in your stockpile…otherwise that is just hoarding (unless you are emergency stockpiling which is a whole other topic)

  10. Hi,

    I am very thankful for this site and what it has taught me about saving money. I am curious about how many stores most people shop at to get good deals. I live in a rural location and have only Safeway and WalMart available. I get the Sunday ads and price match at WalMart but they do not double coupons. I could drive into the two nearest cities, but that is a 45 minute trip each way and the cost of gas outweighs the “deal” I might get at the store. It frustrates me a little bit, and I just wanted to know if those of you that are doing this in bigger locations shop at many stores to get all the good deals.

    Thanks!

    • Jenny – I cannot speak for others but for myself I live in a smallish town in Wyoming, population around 30,000 folks. In town we have one of each – Albertsons, Smiths, Walgreens, Walmart and Kmart. None of my stores do what I call real doubles either (Albertsons here lets you double three coupons up to a dollar in one transaction every 2-3 weeks. It is sort of a pain to do multiple transactions to stock up so most of my deals are done at stores that do not double) I don’t travel for deals unless I am going there anyways. The nearest “big city” is 2-3 hours away so it is definitely not worth driving for the deals. But for example we will be traveling to the big city (Rapid City SD) this weekend and I will make a Safeway run and see what deals I can get. We also do not have multiple of the same stores so I cannot run to 3 or 4 different Walgreens and get more deals. But I do just fine. You work with what you have. It may take a little longer but you can get the deals. Safeway can have some good deals and there are still deals to be had at Walmart too.

  11. Thank you for this post. I have been scouring the internet for a week by week example of how to start a stockpile like this. I, like some others, had not thought of dedicating a certain amount of my budget for stockpiling. I think that idea sets great parameters & prevents the overwhelming feeling one can sometimes get when thinking that by stockpiling you might not be able to get the everyday items you need right now. I’m definitely gonna be sharing this blog post with all my friends who are starting out in couponing! :0)

    • Wendy,

      I am glad that you found this post and that it helped you get the concept of slowly building your stockpile over time. I think the mistake many new couponers make is thinking that it happens over night. Thanks for sharing the post with your couponing friends I hope that they will find it useful and maybe stop by and say hi!

  12. Thank you for this post, it really does show you how to begin your stockpile. I have seen things about starting to stockpile but nothing that actually shows you a breakdown of how to do it without blowing your budget.

  13. Regarding Linda’s question on May 3 – Deodorant is on sale buy one get one free and I have 6 coupons for buy one get one free, that makes 2 free deodorants for each coupon I have, so I pick up 12 sticks of deodorant for free – Total spent is $0.00.
    I don’t understand this. Can you help me please?

    I still don’t understand how your cost is $0. Don’t you still have to buy one to get one?

  14. Great article! I’ve been couponing for awhile but never actually budgeted for my stockpile, now I can have a strategy and get this thing going much better than it has been. Thank you so much for all the information and for making it so simple to understand.

  15. “Regarding Linda’s question on May 3 – Deodorant is on sale buy one get one free and I have 6 coupons for buy one get one free, that makes 2 free deodorants for each coupon”

    With the sale thats offering b1g1 free, this is in a sense a “store” coupon. So the store is providing this freebie. Now your B1G1 manufacturer coupon..the manufacturer is providing the freebie. So for the two items purchased, they are both free.Just like stacking a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon. The store gives you a freebie, and the manufacturer is reimbursing the store for their coupon.

  16. The way that I finally wrapped my head around the BOGO deals is by thinking of the BOGO coupon as being a coupon for the price of the item. So say deodorant is BOGO at the store and each one is $2 you get 2 for $2 then the coupon is worth $2 off. So now you have 2 sticks of deodorant for $0. Hope that helps 🙂

  17. i want to get a copy of this just so i can read and reread it when i start to get confused…. do have a question . i went to the store and seen sobe’s $1.00 each. coupon is $1.50 off when you get 5 bottles. i thought it wasnt a bad deal so i got them…another. was on a 4 pkg.5.78 but had to buy 2 in order to have 2.00 off. i used the coupon. was it a decent safe?? and another question. have coupons that state get a free bottle liter of soda but first have to buy a bag of chips which is almost 3.00 and have to get a bottle of dip which is , i forgot how much now… but then there is a coupon for the dip and chips.only a 1.00 off. now where is the safing in that.? i felt like i ddint do good again tonight at the store i know i messed up by not doing my homework at checking out everything first… how do i get comfortable and better…. in the long run tonight i beleive i safed about 20 dollars or less,

    • Joanne,

      You can print a copy of the post by clicking the “Printable Version” button at the bottom right of the post. Your deal on the Sobe on sale for $1.00 with a $1.00/5 coupon is not a bad deal if you are a fan of Sobe and like it. Paying 80¢ a bottle is not too bad. The other (I am assuming it was Sobe?) 4-pack for $5.78 with a $2.00/2 coupon…not so good. The price ends up being about $1.20 per bottle. On your chips and dip deal I am not to sure, it probably was not a deal as it does not sound like they the chips and dip were on sale. Sometimes coupons like that that require you to purchase two different items like a certain brands of chips and dip are harder to use because often one of the items will be on sale and not the other. So the chips might be on sale but the dip is full price. Remember the key is to use your coupons on items that are on sale (or clearance…but that does not apply to chips probably).

      How do you get comfortable and better? Just take your time and have patience and make sure you are figuring out how much stuff costs and don’t use a coupon just because you have it. Pay attention to costs and try to save 50% or more off the full price of items or try to get something cheaper than generics. As you learn it gets better. Remember that $20 savings is $20 savings and there is nothing wrong with that.

  18. I think it is great that you speak of not only a budget for stockpile & reg grocery, but of coupons too. I have been couponing for a long time, but now for the first time I am accounting (my time) in doing all of this. I am spending more time and realize that couponing has also become a hobby of mine that I share with my little girls. I think just like anything else…couponing for me is sensable and whole. Starting a stockpile….capri sun & kandoo wipes….um ya I have a couple toddlers in the house!

  19. yes i do like sobe and i also like frappuccino,starbucks coffee which was what i was referring to of the $5.78. $2.oo/2. thank you so much for your help, support and patience.

  20. That’s part of what confuses me. The deodorant example in week two. Buy one get one free and the six, BOGO coupons. I actually would think I couldn’t use the coupon. Thanks for the info. I can’t think of them right now but there have been other times I for some reason, I just assumed I could not use my coupon.

  21. Do you use coupons on the other $80.00 worth of groceries you are buying for the week? You have given me a great goal to shoot for . . . feeding my family for $100 a week. Thank you.

    • Barbara – Thanks for stopping by! My suggestion is to spend the rest of your grocery budget (the non-stockpiling part of your budget) as wisely as possible. You are going to need to purchase items that your household needs. So if that means you need canned tuna, pasta, toilet paper, milk, eggs, chicken, pancake mix or whatever to get through the week then you are going to want to find the best deals possible on those things, even if you are not stockpiling those things. Check the prices on the things you need, making sure to compare unit costs to get the lowest price point possible. That may mean you find a good deal using your coupons, and sometimes the better deal is going to be on generics or another brand that you don’t have a coupon for. They key to remember here is that just because you have a coupon does not make it a good deal. If you need toilet paper right now because you are out or almost out. Then you should compare the cost per roll on brands you have a coupon for, brands you don’t have a coupon for as well as generics and get whatever is the lowest cost per roll to tide you over. But once you find a stock-up deal with your coupons (remember 50% off the full price of your favorite brands or cheaper than generics is a good starting price to start stockpiling…you may find it cheaper later or even free) then you are going to want to stockpile as much as you have coupons for. (Multiple coupons!) – Heidi

  22. Great advice! Thank you so much for spelling it out. However, down here in Houston,Kroger limits the amount of coupons you can use for one product (usually 3), and has recently quit doubling/tripling the coupons. So, I now shop at HEB who take coupons at their face value. No store down here doubles more than .50 cents, although I know some “northern” stores will double a dollar coupon. Still, I persevere, and hope to begin stockpiling more than I do now. It’s fun to be frugal!!!

    • Sue – Double coupons is a bonus! 95% of the markets out there do not offer double coupons. That does not mean that there are not deals to be had. I get tons of great deals just matching the sales with the coupons. That is why I did not factor in double coupons on the examples in my blog post. Hang in there, still tons of deals out there.

  23. Awesome, Thanks! I have found that I am tempted to use coupons just because I have them. This makes me spend too much just because I want to stockpile. I like your budget idea for stockpiling because it would reign in my spending. How many toothpastes and razors do I need? The toilet paper example you gave is a good case in point. I have trouble stockpiling that. I seem to rarely find that my coupons on toilet paper for name brand make the price less than the Target brand toilet paper.

  24. Awesome post!!!! I hope lots of NBs’ read this, I know it will die down but darn it I can only use so many free pantliners(all the shelves seem to have consistaly , lately LOL! 😀

  25. I just loved the article. You have given examples for just about everything that we use on a daily basis. Thank you for all the work and examples.

  26. HI, awesome post!! I am a very newbie at this couponing business! Just started collecting all of my coupons a week ago. I have a question, Do you go to the stores before hand to see what they have on sale? I know that a lot of stores have much more on sale than the ads show! So just wondering about that? Thanks so much for the post it is very incouraging!!!

    • Hi Jessica thanks for the comment! I myself try not to make extra trips to the grocery store whenever possible. Instead I make my list based off of what is on sale in the ad and then take my coupon binder with me incase I find any deals on any unadvertised sales or clearance finds.

  27. This was an amazing article! Thank you so much!! I have been looking for someone to break this down step by step for months now! Now I know how to make this work!

  28. WOW! How do I count the ways on how toally awesome this was! For a few weeks I couldn’t figure out “how” this is done. Ya I know save coupons and get good deals…but no one has been able to explain in detail like you just did!! I think some were afraid it was the secret of all secrets to not give out. You need to write a book on this!! I can’t tell you how much I apprecaite this…I GET IT NOW! I was just about to give up when I came across this…THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

  29. Thanku so much for the info, Queen…

    I, too, just started collecting coup’s last week and did really well. I got the couponing fever now, and was not sure every week would be like my first one. I can see that it will not be, but there is also room for improvement to get even BETTER deals, thanks to my increasing couponing education.

    Love your idea of the budgets. To be honest, we have not really had a budget. We need something, we go out and get it. Happen to find a coupon for it. Cool. It’s also on sale, well awesome!. NO! NO! NO! TOTALLY WRONG way to do it as you and others have pointed out. That just seems to be way to careless now, from where I’m standing.

    Starting out with a budget is crucial. Finding sales combined with coupons also important. This is the way to be pro-active. Not go willy-nilly through the store with a things we need list and a kinda things we need, and then grab stuff that may be on sale or whatever we feel like.

    I’m already asking my partner to look for receipts, debit purchases, bank statements, anything to try to determine what our budget has been. I think it may be easier at this point to just start from scratch and say what our budget is GOING to be, including the stockpiling, which I am solely doing…for now.

    Too, I think this is a great tool to get kids invested in. One of these life lessons they do not teach at school, yet is so vital for them as they grow into adulthood and stumble out on their own for the first time. I am hoping we can teach the 17 y/o some of these healthy habits, although I don’t know if boys care so much about this kind of stuff than girls do. Perhaps after he sees how much it costs himself to feed he will..LOL

    Thank you once again for all this fantastic info and I am off to read and re-read couponing 101, etc.

    • AK MCGRATH – So glad to have helped put it into perspective and help inspire you to put together a budget. Remember you can always adjust your budget too if you find you spend more or less than you thought you did. The goal here is to have a goal of how much you want to spend and get what you actually spend down to that number. But keeping it all reasonable.

  30. Thank you so much for this article. I have been using coupons for about 2 months and have started a small stockpile of household items, but never thought of doing it how you suggested.

    Fantastic

  31. Thanks for this article. You have helped me work towards the goal of understanding stockpiling, deciding if it’s for me, and setting a strategy to start. Now to figure out the cycles, match ups, stacking.

  32. Wow, this really helps out with the layout that you wrote out for us. I’m a newbie for couponing myself, but so far for my first trip have done very well and saved 70% (or at least I think that’s very well). With the example you had given me, I feel that I can actually get our stockpile going hopefully soon here. Thanks so much for posting that! Again, it was very helpful… Now it’s just time to talk to the hubby and see what he says. Dun dun duuun… lol He really has no other choice.

  33. Queen, Thank you so much. I started couponing back in June. I have the drugstores down, but I was having a hard time with groceries. Also, I sometimes spend too much on stockpiling with the HAB. Using a stockpile budget alongside my regular grocery budget makes a LOT of sense. It is really easy to get carried away. Really, how many tubes of toothpaste do I need to see me through. That extra little bit saved will help buy what I do need. I am going to try to print your blog for my daughter. Thank you again.

    • Hunter’s Nana I am just pleased as punch that this article helped. I think it does help put it into perspective a little on how to focus and build your stockpile a little at a time. The HBA stuff is really easy to stockpile. But at some point you gotta focus on the food deals too. Which are just slightly harder to find (but not too much). I frequently say “you cannot eat shampoo” LOL

  34. I just started couponing a couple weeks ago and am already hooked on saving soo much money. I have already had people ask me how did you get that for free or pay just a few cents for that item. I love to tell them how easy it could be but I do remind them that you do have to put time into it. You have to match up your sales ads with your coupons to make sure you save the most money possible. The most helpful thing I can pass onto everyone is to shop at Walmart and have them do price match. Than I can get the sales of all the stores in one place. I asked if they would do the buy one get one free that the other stores offer and they told me yes they would, so it saves me tons of time just doing my shopping there. This will be my 3rd week shopping and with price match and coupons I should save 97.59 tomorrow. That’s a big help when I have a daughter that has had 6 surgeries. I came across this website by mistake when I was trying to find a way to get free newspapers…lol. What I have read so far has been very helpful and I plan on reading all the things that you have shared with everyone so I can save even more money. Thank you for putting this here to help us newbies:)

    Nicole

  35. I’ve been couponing for about 6 weeks now. I have a ver small stockpile of 5 things of toothpaste and 4 bottles of laundry det. That’s it. lol. I’m kinda mad that I wasn’t doing it “right” ..lol. I have been focusing on the stuff I NEED each week that’s on sale I can use coupons on too. Not all sales stuff that, maybe I don’t need now, but use all the time. Thank you SO much for this blog. I am learning alot about how I’ve been doing things a little wrong and now I know how to maximize my savings 🙂 Darn that Extreme Couponing show for tricking me. I assumed some aspects were completely made up, but I had no idea how much of it was really scripted and staged. But I can do this. The REAL and HONEST way, thanks to you! 🙂

  36. On my last shopping trip I got 6 bottles of sierra mist for a penny each and all my canned veggies for free plus 4 cents overage Andy my frozen veggies 4 50 cents each I had. To do this in 6 transactions Ans append 25 dollars but it was worth it. I ended up spending about 80 dollars and if I didn’t use coupons I would of spent welll over 200 dollars my. My stockpile now includes 30 boxes of cereal 15 laundry detergentsf. And tooth paste. Getting better as I learn more.

  37. where is all the coupons coming from? I am lucky to get one, with my sunday paper, which are 1.25 each. that is alot of money in order to get 14 or 20 coupons. Any ways to get the oupons?

  38. Just started couponing. Your posts have been instrumental in getting me motivated. However, I don’t understand how to use the coupons from previous inserts. Are you using expired coupons? For example I see instructions to use a coupon for “Procter & Gamble 9/19/11 for a bottle of Olive Oil” but the coupon is good only thru 10/19/11 and the day the info is posted is often 30 days or more past the expiration date on the coupon. Am I missing something? As far as I can tell, manufactures coupons from inserts are always 30 days unless they have no expiration date. Thanks for any advice on this subject.

    • Hi Cynthia, I am not sure where you are reading these deals. We don’t post deals using expired coupon. P&G also does not make olive oil so that cannot be correct….. That being said, while most manufactures coupons expire 30 days from issue that is certainly not the case with all coupon. Some coupon expire 45, 60, 90 days or more from the date they were published in the inserts. This article you are commenting on is using hypothetical coupon and deals as more of a guide of how it can be done. For the current store deals an coupon matchup check out our store deals forums.

  39. Thank you so much for this, I really enjoyed it. I was a bit confused on how to start a stockpile but have got a good concepy now on it. Like you said Slow and Steady wins the race. Thanks again. This is the year I am going to save as much as I can.

  40. Wow, I have been using coupons for two years, I never really knew how to stock pile the correct way.
    You have this info clearly stated and easy to understand.
    I’m not working right now, so it’s essential that I stock pile in the way you’ve explained.
    Thanks Again!
    Monica C

  41. GreAT ARTICLE! i used to coupon to save here and there now I do it to save as much as possible. I like the simplicity of 2-3 items for stockpile weekly so as to not seem too over whelmed.

  42. Heidi, I suggest you write a new article discussing current trends in store policies, sales and other things related to couponing as we knew it. Walgreens, for instance, has made a lot of revisions to their coupon policies that makes it hard now to get cheap/free items there. A lot of stores have also revised their policies, from what it was in 2011 when you wrote this article. It would newbies from disappointment if they know the current conditions related to couponing.

    • joshmamabear, I will have to work on that. However while there have definitely been changes in store policies and coupon policies it is still possible to get good deals. I don’t want to discourage “newbies” from couponing because there are still great deals to be had. It might not be as good as years past but it can be done.

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