Couponing and Stockpiling

The Basics of Couponing

Why do people use coupons?

In my family of 4 plus 2 dogs, couponing is a way of life for us. Coupons are a way for to save money on products that you would already need and use.  I have saved hundreds of dollars off of my monthly grocery bills from couponing with not a lot of effort.  Shopping smart, being organized and using coupons will save your family money with little time and effort.

Where can I find coupons?

1. The most frequent place I find coupons is online Coupon Websites.  There are many free Canadian website out there that will send you coupons in the mail. Here are a few of my favorites that are reliable and have great coupons.
P&G Brandsaver

2. Tearpads
In most groceries and drugstores you will find tear pads in almost every isle.  You may be tempted to grab the whole pad of them but good coupon etiquette is that you only take as many as you will need. I usually take about 5 because if it's something I really like I know I will use them.

3. Offers on Products
There are a lot of products that offer free coupons on the packaging.  A common one is cereal boxes.  Because companies makes multiple types of products, they often promote other products they sell on packaging.  Make sure to look in and on products you buy for special coupons.

4. Printable coupons
Many companies offer printable coupons online.  Sometimes you may need to sign up for the company's newsletter to get special coupons and promotions.  Another place to print coupons off of is websites like Smartcanucks . They have a list with the proper expiry dates listed.

5. Coupon Inserts
Every few weeks, you can find coupon inserts in your local newspaper. You can find Redplum every 4 weeks or so, Smart Source every 3 weeks or so and Brandsaver every 3-4 months.For those of you like me who like to save money by reading the paper online, I only buy the paper when I know these inserts will be in them.  I also ask friends and family who get the pare to hold onto them for me.

6. Coupon Trading: This is a great way to get coupons that have interest to you and get rid of ones that you don't need.  It is very popular in Canada and there are many website that offer it such as Smartcanucks If you want to start small you can trade with friends and family.

7. Contact the Companies
A few times a year I contact my favorite companies directly either through email or calling them and let them know that I enjoy their products and would send me coupons for their products.  Try not to do it too often usually 4 times a year works.  Even if they say no it doesn't take much time to ask and I have found that the coupons that they send directly are much better than any promotion. I have often got coupons for a FREE product!

8. Coupon Trains
Once you start couponing often, coupon trains are a great way to get coupons.  Coupon trains are not for the beginners though as they can be a bit complicated.  They are many websites out there that offer coupon trains. Make a post saying you would like to join a train. The person starting the train (conductor) will message you to get your address. They will send out an envelope with coupons and you basically take which ones you want but you need to replace them with ones of similar values that you won't need.  Each coupon train has it's own rules so you will need to join at the start of a train and get the guidelines for that train in the forum.

Saving Money With Coupons

1. Using coupons at the optimal times to get lowest prices or FREE
The trick to couponing is using your coupons at the optimal times to get the best value you can.  A mistake many new couponers do is using your coupons when you get them instead of waiting for the item to go on sale unless you need the product anyways.  When you use a coupon with an item that is on sale you get your best value.  for example.  Laundry detergent is on sale for $5.99 (usually $7.99) and you have a coupon for $3.00 off.  You will get the detergent for $2.99 vs $7.99 you would normally pay.  Thats a savings of $5.00 just by using your coupon at the right time!! This is also the way to get items for FREE.

2. Mail In Rebates
I often buy products that have a promotion on for a mail in rebate.  You buy the item upfront and then send in the mail in rebate form with you address and receipt and they company will send you a rebate often time it will be the full amount of the item including the tax! A way to optimize you savings this way is to use a coupon at the same time.  If a product is $10.99 and you have a coupon for $5.00, you pay $4.99.  Send in the mail in rebate and since coupons are treated like cash the company will send you the full amount of $10.99.  Not only will you get the product for FREE you are basically making money on that item!  Just look online for mail in rebates and print off the forms.

3. Weekly Flyers
Every week I wait like a kid at Christmas time for my weekly flyers!  I can't believe I actually use to throw them away!  Now as soon as I get them I start going through them and circling the deals.  If you use your flyers properly you can save a lot of money.  You can use them to price match items from different store to get the lowest price without going to a bunch of stores.  You can also match the items in the flyer to your coupons to have the best saving deals.  Some of the weekly flyer also have coupons right on the for their stores. I do this process when buying groceries, clothing, toys and household items.

Stockpiling 101

Stockpiling is the number one way to save money on your monthly grocery bills.  You stock up on items that are on sale (and preferably use coupons as well) so that you will have item readily available when you need them.  Not only is this convenient but it will help you to avoid ever paying full price again!

What are the benefits of Stockpiling items?
1. Saving Money- The number one reason to build a stockpile in your home is to save money. Stock up on an item when it is on sale instead of purchasing it when you need it for full price. It may not seen like a lot at the time but it all adds up especially if you were pairing your sale items with coupons.

2. Saving Time- I use to hate it when I was baking or cooking a recipe and realized I was missing  one or two ingredients! You either have to stop what you are doing and run to the store or you can't make the recipe.  Nowadays it takes me no time to run downstairs to our "store" in the basement and grab the item from our stockpile.  I really appreciate my stockpile on cold winter days when I look in the fridge and realize we are low on groceries.  I either check out the stockpile in the basement or my deep freezer. It's also great on cleaning days if I run out of cleaning products I can grab some from my stockpile.

3. Save others Money- When I pair my coupons with sale prices in flyers I often get items for next to nothing or FREE.  When this happens I set aside products to give away to family and friends.  I am also building a donation stockpile of items that I know different shelters and soup kitchens would be able to use.  This is a great way to give back to your community.

4. Save your Budget- There are certain months of the year that are harder on your wallet than others. December is particularly hard on the wallet because of gifts, parties, treats, and decorations.  Months like this are reasons I like being able to only buy the basics and rely on my stockpile for the rest.  I will often do weekly menu plans according to what we have in our stockpile to save money on our groceries.
How should my family stockpile?
There are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself before you start a stockpile in you home.
Do I have the space? - To build a stockpile you need to have an area to do it in.  Maybe it's in a spare room in the basement like us or maybe you have room under the stairs. Depending on where you live and the climate, the garage isn't always the best place to store items because of the cold winters and hot summers in Canada.
How much should I stockpile?- Depending on the size of your family and it's needs the answer could be different for everyone.  With my family of 4, we have 6-12 months worth of stockpile at any given time depending on the products.  Don't go overboard and stock up up too much because you don't want item to expire.  Only stock up on what you will use for that given amount of time.  Figure out how long it takes you to go through products and stock accordingly.

How much should I spend on Stockpiling?- Stockpiling can be expensive if you want to stockpile absolutely every sale.  I would suggest starting off slow and adding around $10-$20 onto your budget for stockpiling each week. It takes time to build a stockpile and waiting for the right sales is the key.  Don't blow you monthly budget just because something is a good deal because that would defeat the purpose of saving money.

How should I store my stockpile?- My personal favorite is shelving units and stackable Rubbermaid containers. As you know I like to have everything organized and having anything stackable is organized.  As you can see from my picture above, I have items stacked to the roof!  That picture is just one area of my stockpile.  I try to keep items stock all over the house in the proper rooms for convenience and the basement is the overflow.  

My family has already witnessed the benefits and savings from stockpile while I have been on maternity leave.  It has cut our budget by about 30% already!  I would suggest stockpiling to anyone that would like to save money!

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