Mom Saves Money: Smart shopping

I really want to use coupons.

Really, I do. I actually enjoy flipping through the Sunday ads, scissors in hand, clipping those glossy little $1-off-my-favorite-makeup-brand rectangles.

I’ve tried buying a coupon organizer that I’d keep in my purse.

I’ve tried organizing the coupons by category in different envelopes at home.

Nothing has worked. Ultimately, all those well-laid plans to save money fall by the wayside and I end up at the store sans glossy rectangles.

Today’s guest blog, though, makes me want to give it another go. If you take Nicole McDonald’s word for it, clipping coupons and watching sales can be SO WORTH IT.

Nicole McDonald,

Stockpiling is smart shopping.

I know. Some of you hear the word “stockpile” and think it’s synonymous with hoarding. If you’ve watched TLC’s “Extreme Couponing,” you’ve seen the giant stockpiles that some coupon users accumulate over time. It is called extreme for a reason.

But don’t let that scare you from having a modest stockpile to save huge amounts of money on groceries and toiletries.

You don’t need an extra room or a garage that can be taken over with products. A small pantry, freezer or extra cupboard will suffice. And it’s worth it: Stockpiling 3-4 months of goods can save you an insane amount of money.

What is stockpiling?

Stockpiling is simply the accumulating of goods or items for future use. People throughout the years have been doing this by canning their fresh veggies and fruits or freezing/preserving meat from a deer, cow or pig. Now, we think of having a small mini-mart in our home to store non-perishable items.

Why stockpile?

Stockpiling when grocery prices are rock bottom means you won’t be forced to buy that item at full price when you run out. For example, this week 5-pound bags of flour are as cheap as 49 cents in the Omaha area. Crazy cheap, right? Well, I propose you purchase 3-4 months worth and store it in your cupboards to use throughout the winter.

Let me show you how much money this will save a family who uses just one 5-pound bag of flour every month. The regular retail price of a 5-pound bag of flour is usually around $2.99.

4 bags of flour at 49 cents each = $1.96

4 bags of flour at $2.99 each = $11.96

You saved $10 over the next four months just by buying flour at a ridiculously low price and stockpiling. In fact, the four months worth of flour cost less than one bag at full bloat retail.

Now, do that with butter, cheese, sugar, canned goods, frozen veggies, etc. and you can imagine how much you will save over time.

Here’s another example: Canned vegetables are as low as 29 cents in Omaha this week. These retail for at least 69 cents, if not more. My family eats about 10 cans of veggies per month. Let’s say we buy four month’s worth of vegetables now.

40 cans of vegetable at 29 cents = $11.60

40 cans of vegetables at 69 cents = $27.60

That’s a $16 savings for just a little pre-planning and stockpiling.

Note: If you are a new stockpiler, you will spend a little more on groceries at first, but soon you will find that you will spend way less at the grocery store because your pantry is full. In fact, if hard times hit, a good stockpile can get you through the rough patch. Ask any coupon user who’s lost a job and they’ll tell you their stockpile kept them from starving.

Don’t go overboard

Sales are cyclical and you only need 3-4 months of stockpile before the next sale on those same items. No need to buy two or three year’s worth of flour and clutter your cabinets, a modest amount will get you through until the next sale. Don’t forget to check expiration dates and rotate your pantry. There is nothing more frustrating than spending money on food and have it go to waste. Only buy what your family can reasonably use before the expiration. If you find yourself with more than you can use, donate it to your food pantry.

How to spot rock bottom prices

I recommend paying attention to your store’s retail prices. You can even make a small price book of your most commonly purchased items. When the price is 75 percent or more off retail (with sales and/or coupons), that is when you stock up.

I NEVER pay more than $4 for a jumbo bag of diapers or $1 for a box of cereal. I NEVER pay anything for toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, razors, floss, makeup, tampons, contact solution and more. In fact, I make money buying some of those items. I combine coupons with sales and stock up when the prices are low. I am never again forced to pay ridiculous retail prices because I have a modest stockpile that I acquired at the lowest price possible.

Even if you don’t use coupons, following sales and building a small stockpile will save you hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars over time.

Nicole McDonald writes about freebies, coupons, deals and product reviews and hosts giveaways at


5 thoughts on “Mom Saves Money: Smart shopping

  1. I always have good intentions. Sometimes i even forget i put a coupon in my bag to use and ill walk right out of the store without using it.


  2. I modestly stockpile. I’m prone to buying extra things like detergent, deoderant, TP, and things like that. I never get anything free, so I must be doing something wrong. One thing I have learned is that if you want to save money, leave your kids at home. Not only does it keep you from being talked into things you hadn’t planned to buy, but it keeps you from being distracted. I never stay focused when my peeps are with me!


    • Lisa, That’s a great tip! Kids are so distracting. To really score toiletries for free you need to shop CVS or Walgreens. Combine their store coupons and promotions with manufacturer’s coupon to receive items free. It takes a little bit to learn the system, but once you do you will be able to get tons of useful things for free.


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