Extreme Couponing: Understanding Sale Cycles and Stockpiling

BlogHer Original Post

If you have been following my extreme couponing series since the beginning, you'll remember that I had the hardest time wrapping my head around the stockpile. I was the woman taking cans of tomatoes out of the cart because we already had two cans and did not need two more. As I look at the large stack of canned tomatoes on my shelf today, that's hard to believe. I've embraced the stockpile and Jenny, from Southern Savers does a great job of explaining why.

Pay close attention when Jenny says you don't need SIX of everything, you just need enough to get you to the next lowest sale cycle. And she's right - mostly. There have been a few occasions when I only bought two of something (mustard, for instance) when it was on sale for its lowest possible price. I had coupons for mustard during that sale ... but when I ran out and the mustard was again on sale, I did not have the coupons to match up with the sale. And it hurt to pay for mustard -- after getting it for free just a few short weeks earlier. I've learned my lesson and next time, I'll buy four bottles of mustard instead of two... but I won't buy 20 bottles. That's just not necessary and that's not how most couponers I know shop.

Besides the whole OMG there's so much food in my house! problem that I had with stockpiling, I found that I really did not know what the buy price should be on most of the things I was interested in buying. I spent a lot of time with Jenny's buy price list. It was a good jumping off point for me but it isn't my buy price Bible.

Jenny lives in the south, where prices are almost always lower than what I find in my stores in the Chicago suburbs. That right there means my buy price is often just a wee bit higher than Jenny's. Jenny also lives in an area that consistently offers her double coupon options. Here in Chicagoland, I have no double coupon options so that makes it harder for me to hit Jenny's buy price recommendations. But that's ok - I may not always get cereal for $1 a box (or less) but I will sometimes get it for $1 a box and I will always get it for $1.50 a box. That's my cereal buy price. Your buy price might be slightly different depending upon where you live and your double coupon opportunities.

Another thing that might change your buy price is brand loyalty. For me, and for Jenny, toothpaste is always free. If you are someone who buys only a certain type of toothpaste, it's possible that your buy price is .50 or even $1.00 for toothpaste. My mom is brand loyal to one particular toothpaste and I was happy to buy her four tubes for $1.00 each instead of the $4.00 a piece that they normally are. For that brand of toothpaste, $1.00 is my buy price.

I won't pay for razors but I have a very brand loyal friend and she's finding great deals on her favorite razor but odds are slim that they will ever be completely free -- they're too expensive and too popular to begin with. But, if she normally pays $9.99 for razors or refills and she can get them for half that price every time, that's a great savings. She's buying the brand she loves and she's saving money by stockpiling razors when they are at their lowest possible buy price.

One last example, a few months ago there was a great deal at one of my local grocery stores. Buy four boxes of certain varieties of their granola (type) bars and get a $2 OYNO coupon PLUS a coupon for a free gallon of milk. There were great coupons to go along with some of these granola (type) bars. We bought a few different varieties and everyone in the family fell in love with one specific type. They're not very healthy, even if they are kind of promoted as healthier snack options... so I refused to buy them again, unless there was a good sale on them. Last weekend, there was a decent sale (not as good as the one I mentioned above) so I bought a few boxes. You'd have thought I gifted everyone in the house with a brand new car -- there was that much excitement over these. This can be a problem... if your family suddenly loves a product that you've not bought in the past, and you didn't buy enough to get you to the next sale cycle... you either have to tell your family members "Not til they go on sale again!" or you have to buy at the normal price. Me... I'm not buying until they go on sale. You might make a different choice (and your family will probably like you more, heh.)

Another thought about toothpaste... because it's always free, and quite often a moneymaker, I almost buy at least one tube every week. In my house right now, I have 11 tubes of unopened toothpaste on the shelf. This weekend, I'll probably buy another tube. Next weekend, I'll probably buy another. Why do I keep buying toothpaste when we have more than enough stockpiled for my family of eight? Because toothpaste is always a good thing for me to send to the adult children in my family who don't live with me. Because toothpaste is always a good donation item. Sometime in the next few weeks, I'll box or bag the bulk of my toothpaste stockpile and send it to one of my kids or I'll donate it to a food bank or a shelter. I will not keep stockpiling the toothpaste until it takes over a room in my house -- and most couponers won't do this either. They give their excess stockpile away... to friends, family, charity.

As you watch season two of TLC's Extreme Couponing, keep Jenny's video in mind. Think about the examples of stockpiling that I've shared. Remember that what you're seeing on TV are couponers who are making these specific trips in order to create good TV.

If you're thinking about giving extreme couponing a try, start with Jenny's video about sales cycles and get familiar with her buy price list and then begin to create your own. Don't watch TLC's Extreme Couponing and envision yourself buying 40 bottles of barbecue sauce, 50 candy bars, and 100 bottles of water. Picture yourself buying the enough of the products you normally use to get you through until the next sale cycle. That's what Extreme Couponing really looks like.

Do you have questions about sales cycles, buy prices, or couponing? Ask them here, I'm more than happy to help you find the answers you need -- or coupon bloggers in your community who can help you learn the ropes.

BlogHer Community Manager
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