Strategic Shopping: Why You Should Stockpile


I’ve been working on a series entitled Strategic Shopping for awhile now.  The first part of this series was devoted to coupons:

  1. How to speak the coupon language
  2. Where to find coupons
  3. How to organize coupons
  4. How to use coupons effectively

Now we’re going to discuss stockpiling.

Wait, let me rephrase that…now we’re going to discuss realistic, sane stockpiling. We won’t be taking out insurance policies on our stock piles and we won’t infringe on our day to day living with our stockpiles.

Why Stockpiling Make Sense

Over time, when you strategically shop, you’ll start noticing trends in sales cycles. You’ll also begin to be able to gauge what is a *buy* price for something and what is just an over hyped deal (just because they stick the world “sale” on it, doesn’t mean it’s a good deal!).

So it makes sense that you’ll want to buy enough of a product at it’s rock bottom price to last until the next time the price drops.

This way, you decide what you are going to pay for something.

Let me give you an example.

Dora finds cereal at her local Kroger for $.69 a box. There is a sale going on and she has a coupon and maybe the sale is part of a bigger store promotion (like a Mega Sale). $.69 a box for cereal that’s normally $3.50 a box is great news, so she buys a box or two.

The next week, she’s out of cereal, so she goes back to Kroger. Only the sale is over and she’s out of coupons! Her family needs the cereal though, so she sucks it up and pays $3.50 for a box. The cereal sale doesn’t come around again for another 7 weeks, and  her family buys 2 boxes of cereal a week.

This is how much she pays for her family’s cereal over the course of 8 weeks (2 boxes of cereal each week = 16 boxes total):

1 week @ $.69:  2x$.69= $1.38

7 weeks @ $3.50: 14x$3.50= $49.00

Total for 8 weeks of cereal: $50.38

Diego finds cereal at his local Kroger for $.69 a box. There is a sale going on and he has a coupon and maybe the sale is part of a bigger store promotion (like a Mega Sale). $.69 a box for cereal that’s normally $3.50 a box is great news!

Diego has looked at the sales ads before he left the house and he calculated that his family goes through approximately 2 boxes of cereal a week. He also knows sales cycles tend to run between 6-8 weeks. So to be on the safe side, he gathers enough coupons to purchase 16 boxes of cereal at the $.69 price. He buys multiple papers each week, and he either prints more coupons online or buys some from a coupon clipping service.

He heads to the store with his coupons and buys his cereal (if it looks like he might clear the shelf, he might buy less to be considerate of his fellow shoppers. Or he could ask the manager if there is more cereal in the back!) with his coupons.

This is how much he has paid for his family’s cereal for 8 weeks (he purchases 16 boxes of cereal at one time):

8 weeks @ $.69: 16x$.69=$11.04

Diego (I know I know…I have preschoolers!) saved $39.34 over Dora!

Not only that, but you better believe Diego also took advantage of some other great deals to add to his stockpile as well!

This example is a bit extreme, especially for a beginner. It’s mainly showing you the WHY of stockpiling (because you can save a LOT of money!). To be honest, stockpiling should be done little by little and bit by bit.

Will you ever buy 16 boxes of cereal at a time? Maybe you will. Maybe you don’t have room for 16 boxes of cereal!

That’s okay…this is where being flexible comes into play. Maybe you cut your consumption of cereal down to 1 box a week and stretch out 8 boxes of cereal over 8 weeks.  Or during the same sale you also took advantage of an oatmeal sale and on the days you don’t eat cereal, you eat oatmeal. Maybe you have a secondary price point that you are comfortable paying.

Regardless, some kind of stockpile is going to be essential to truly shopping strategically (based on the same principles as the Gift Closet).

You have to make the decision that paying $3.50 for a box of cereal is NOT okay.

Not when you can spend a mere fraction of that by planning ahead! To get the most of out of strategic shopping, you have to set guidelines for what you are willing to pay for what and work within them.

I rarely pay full price for anything anymore. I either grab from my stockpile, or I substitute until I can hop on the next sale. I rarely have more then 6 weeks of anything on hand though. It’s just not necessary with how sales cycles work!

So forget about that show Extreme Couponing, we’re talking Realistic Couponing here on FFF!

Stockpiling just makes sense. You choose what you are willing to pay, and you pay attention to sales cycles to stock up when the price is right!

PS: Next time we’ll go over the How of stockpiling. I’ll show  you how you can start a stockpile even if you are living paycheck to paycheck.

Be sure to check out the ENTIRE Strategic Shopping Series today!

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Heather is the creator and owner of Family Friendly Frugality. She calls Texas home and is married to her best friend. With 2 children 22 months apart, she has her hands full. So full that she decided to start blogging as a hobby. That hobby blew up into a full time job. Now she's got the husband, the kids and the blog. We're not exactly sure what she was thinking, but she's too busy for us to ask. Find Me On Google +

27 thoughts on “Strategic Shopping: Why You Should Stockpile”

  1. Thank you for this! Though the sheer amount of free stuff is amazing, I really feel like the Extreme Couponers are too Extreme. We coupon, but only because we need to. I buy enough of something to last and know my “accepted” price ranges. I could do better, but I am making it work so far 🙂

  2. Yesterday when I tried to buy needed medicine for my 8yo daughter, I could not, because there had been a sale and someone cleared the shelf, to stockpile. So my 8yo had to suffer until I could find replacements for the medicine the doctor told us to get.

    I don’t mind people stocking up, but don’t take it all, especially medicines!

    1. 🙁 I am never a fan of shelf clearing. Now if there is only one left, well obviously if you need it you should take it. But if you are taking 10 to clear the shelf, you have a consideration problem!

      I’m sorry you had to wait for medicine for your daughter 🙁

  3. Love this post…..I need to get better on this, which requires me to be a bit more organized!

  4. Thank you for addressing “normal” stockpiling! I agree that the amount of stuff the extreme couponers accumulate and store is just too, well, extreme!

  5. As a mom of pre-schoolers too this post made my night! 🙂 Thank you for using Dora and Diego. I laughed so hard my husband came in to see what was so funny! 🙂 I agree shelf clearing is rude and I am not a fan either. So glad I stumbled into your site when you were doing that crazy amazon game (that I never won! ha ha!)

  6. Good post. I haven’t seen the extreme couponing show, but I do think it has had a negative effect on couponers overall
    I do believe in stockpiling tho. Not to the extreme but its just good old fashioned common sense to get a good supply of something when its cheapest! That’s just good business. I do love it when products end up being free too. Especially when its something I use daily. When I think back on the money I’ve spent over the years before I used coupons, it makes me sad. Now I try to teach others how to never pay full price!

  7. Go, Diego, Go! X-D

    Hehe, Anyway, I love how you add the note about being considerate and not clearing the shelves. That’s the one thing that has me torn about stockpiling. I hate it when I have something on my normal shopping list and am surprised to see it on sale at the store, but it’s all gone, because people saw it was on sale and went crazy buying it. It frustrates me because I was already planning to buy it and would’ve loved to pay a sale price! Also, I hate being forced to change my meal plans! And there are a lot of people out there that buy it just because it’s on sale, whether they will really use it or not.

    However, all of the benefits you listed about stockpiling definitely apply as well. I buy cereal for no more than $2 a box, but even that’s pretty insane, if you consider how far cereal really does (or does not) go! I keep vowing that I’ll cook breakfast at least once a week, but cereal is just too easy. 🙂

  8. Heather, Great information, I have been using coupons off and on for a year. I do watch the ads, I get the lingo, I try to remember to get the Sunday paper and clip coupons. I haven’t done fabulous but I do save us money. This is my question. I have never done a stock pile. I probably should have a year ago since our finical status has changed and our grocery budget has gotten much smaller. So I am now faced with not really being able to do a stock pile because we usually need all of the grocery money to make it through one week and sometimes 2. How would you suggest I get a stock pile started since I have minimal money to spend on 12 boxes of Cereal. If I were to buy them at the lower price Id have to give up another item on my list ?

    1. This is a great question! When I first started this I was in the EXACT same predicament. In fact, even spending the money to buy the papers for the coupons felt like a stretch!

      Here’s what I think…you are just going to have to earmark a bit of your budget for it. Maybe it’s just $10 a week. That $10 is spent stockpiling something that you can get the most of for a good deal. See if you can cut that $10 from somewhere else in your budget and that $10 is devoted ONLY to stockpiling something your family uses often. Over time, you’ll be able to increase this amount because your grocery bill will decrease.

      That is EXACTLY how I started. It was gradual and it felt like itty bitty tiny baby steps, but before I knew it…that $10 a week had our freezer, fridge and pantry STOCKED!

  9. I stock pile toilet paper, paper towels, canned tomatoes (2F1), chicken broth (2F1), cat food on the rare occasion it goes on sale, frozen veggies (2F1). I do very little processed food so I don’t really benefit much in that area except what is already noted. Butter has yet to go on sale this season yet, and I expected it to. But when it does…. Good sales on produce and meats are dependent on the freezer space I have available. Make my own laundry soap, dishwasher soap, and, really most cleaning products. If the ingredients for these ever go on sale (and I’ve never seen it), I’ll be all over that one.

  10. Wondering how much Diego spent on the newspapers from which he took the coupons and the coupon clipping service? Our Sunday papers has double coupons but its $3.50 per paper. For 16 coupons that’s $56! Granted I will use some of the other coupons from it but unfortunately not enough make it worthwhile. I do not use so many of the products that the coupons are typically for. Also I find so many online coupon sources very annoying and aggressive. First you have to take this 50 page survey and decline 15 pages of “special offers” before you get to the coupons, or be BOMBARDED daily with emails, or download their “coupon printing” program (which is nothing more than spyware or adware), etc. What workarounds do you suggest for these issues? I need to cut expenses and I’d like to start using coupons and do reasonable stockpiling but these issues have kept me away. Are there coupon sites that don’t require jumping through hoops? Thanks!

    1. Why are you buying 16 papers though? I only buy a max of 3 papers a week (and usually just 1). Ours are $2.50 each.

      Maybe I’m misreading why you need to spend $56 on papers?

      And, smartsource, redplum are the big coupon printing websites and while you do have to download printing software (which is how they track that you don’t print 50 of the same coupon), that’s it…you shouldn’t have to jump through any other hoops.

      Honestly, couponing doesn’t have to be an expensive or horrible ordeal. And if it is, than something is wrong.

      Start off buying one $3.50 paper a week. Print coupons from reputable sources like and let your coupon stash grow. Match up the coupons in your stash to weekly sales and over time you’ll save money.

  11. I am not big into using coupons and never have been, mainly because I seldom find coupons for items we use. I can go through the Sunday paper and find one coupon which I Might use. I do not like pre-made items, like mixes or frozen meals. We buy generic medications like store-brand Ibuprofen instead of Advil. Any suggestions for us? Thank you.

    1. You can often get the name brand medications and health and beauty products for cheaper than generic when you coupon strategically. We don’t really eat pre-made items either, we mainly coupon for our HBA stuff.

  12. I know way to many people who end up clearing the shelves. They buy all of the product( and I know there were 20 boxes on that shelf) That really ticks me off.

  13. Love this! I have been trying to explain to my husband why stockpiling is the way to go when there are great deals. I am going to show him this post since it is exactly what I have been trying to say, only written much better! I budget around $60 a week never more than $80 on groceries. Since I have been couponing and starting to slowly get a stockpile, my grocery purchases have been less and less. Now instead of only having enough food for one week, if something happens and we have to use all extra money on an emergency, then we are still safe with food. There was a point where we literally had $30 a week for groceries, and I made it work!

    1. That’s why I love it! Most weeks I can get by with just buying some fresh fruits and veggies and milk! Everything else is usually in stock and I can usually spend just a bit each month replenishing. The key is staying on top of it!

  14. I loved this!!! I sat and read all of our posts, I’ve always wanted to coupon but have been completely intimidated. Not wanting to do something incorrectly, I haven’t really tried except for a coupon here and there but now I feel confident that I can successfully coupon. Thank you so much, I cant wait to get started!

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