Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thought Provoking Thursday

To stockpile or just purchase one or two... hmmm, that IS the question!

When I began spending coupon, just shy of two years ago, I had a hard time deciphering what a "good" purchase was. I was tickled pink to spend $1 on a s.i.n.g.l.e. tube of toothpaste (YIKES!! We veteran coupon spenders know that the Spring brings FREE toothpaste!!!) since the sticker price was two to almost four times that amount!!!

Looking back, it would have done me a world of good to have known when to stock up and when to just purchase a solitary item and hold out for a better sale.

My personal shopping strategy is to purchase the items that my family NEEDS, like dairy, meat, produce, household products like garbage bags and special ingredients for a recipe I intend to make, and then I look for 1-5 items that are ridiculously inexpensive and I stockpile those specific items.

My logic behind always keeping an eye out for the items that MY family uses most frequently is that I would much rather shop from my pantry/fridge/freezer where those items are basically "FREE" that week because they have already been paid for with a previous week's grocery budget!

Here's what I mean: sorry to bust out my math nerdy skills...

This week at Meijer there is a deal on Kelloggs cereal:

Kelloggs cereal, select varieties, $2.49/box
Spend the $1.50/2 MFC (printables available at MMS)
*$2 instant savings when you purchase 4 boxes in a single transaction!
Total: $1/box when you purchase 4 boxes
*$3 cataina prints when you purchase 4 boxes in a single transaction!!!

Essentially, BIG boxes of Kelloggs (that my family likes to eat) are $.49 box!

I *could* purchase a box every 10-ish days or so, over the course of the next 4 months, paying regular retail when there wasn't a sale or coupons, but by purchasing 8 boxes for my family I am able to save with each box that we open and eat... AND keep cereal off of my grocery list... AND not pay a New York cent of my budget towards cereal until the next time there is a stellar deal on our favorite cereal!

BUT... if boxes of Kelloggs cereal were on sale for $2.49/box and I only had the $1.50/2 Manufacturer's coupon to entice my purchasing, I'd be spending $3.48

($2.49 + $2.49 = $4.98 - $1.50 = $3.48)

for two boxes of cereal or $1.74/box instead of this week's $.49/box with the additional discounts factored in by the instant savings and the Catalina reward.

If I NEEDED cereal, than $1.74/box isn't a horrible price (although I've stood in the cereal aisle with a friend lamenting over how pricey an $.80 box of cereal was...) but I'm FAR better off to

know what products my family loves to eat

watch for deeply discounted sales, store rewards offered and coupons for our favorite products

. stock up NOW for consumption LATER

I keep the 50% Rule as a source of my measurement on whether I should just place one of an item in my cart, or whether I should allow my cart to over flowith... (just kidding about the shelf clearing insinuation!)

The 50% off Rule, in my book, is as follows:

If the grocery/household item is less than 50% off regular retail (as shown in the sales flyer or on the shelf's tag) after the sales, coupons and any other incentive/discount, than I consider this a single item purchase price, and I will purchase just one of these items.

If the grocery/household item is 50% off regular retail (as shown in the sales flyer or on the shelf's tag) after the sales, coupons and any other incentive/discount, than I consider this a stock up price, and I will purchase 2-4 of these items.

If the grocery/household item is 75% (or more!!!) off regular retail (as shown in the sales flyer or on the shelf's tag) after the sales, coupons and any other, than I consider this a 'rock bottom' stock up price, and I will purchase 4+ (*maybe* even a year's worth) of these items.

Algebra and Calculus master's degrees are not necessary in figuring out the 50% off Rule, but taking a second to slice the shelf tag's regular price is well worth knowing whether or not you'll be getting a good VS. a great deal!

How do YOU decide when to 'stock up?'



I have built a nice stockpile over the past two months( I am new to this). Since I work full time + a part time job and raise the baby while my husband is stuck on a different shift, I stockpile foods that make quick and easy dinners with little or NO prep. I stock up on frozen veggies, cans of soup, and snack foods. I have found as a newbie to this, I look at your site and macomb's money saver and think of my $50.00 weekly budget, what can I afford to stockpile and still have money left. We also have a space issue so stockpiling is limited to space.


I stock up when you and MMS tells me too. :) Seriously. I can't think like that. I am too busy teaching my kids, that at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is think about grocery shopping. On a side note, I don't like to buy sugary cereal, but I bought 12 boxes, with the intention of making it last as long as possible. My kids only eat it as snacks. And I bought fruit loops for crafts. :) At 49 cents a box, we can glue it and make a picture. :) And i can have a bowl when no one is looking.

Laura Webber

You are FAR ahead of the game to KNOW what your family will eat and stock up accordingly! Yay!

You crack me up! Eat a bowl of Fruit Loops for me too... but only when no one is looking! *We love "Tony the Tigers!"

Becky C

A few comments:
1) I heart your nerdy math skills. :-)
2) Thanks for the 50% rule. As a math nerd myself, I like having a formula to work with.
3) I'm going back to Meijer for cereal tomorrow. I was going to pass on the deal since I already have quite a cereal stockpile and I don't buy the sugary cereals very often, but I love the Froot Loops craft idea!
Thanks for all you do, Laura!

Laura Webber

Hi Becky,
from one nerd to another, happy math filled shopping!


I have learned this lesson the hard way. Last year I bought 15+ boxes of cereal at a great price, we are still eating them and they are not expired. I also "bought" about the same amount of free salad dressings. However, I ended up throwing away about 10 of the salad dressings because they expired while sitting in my stockpile. I am now making my own dressings and do not plan to purchase those again. When I first started couponing I was getting everything that was free,wether I needed it or not. I have not been getting as much random stuff, but more of what my family needs and uses. I am paying close attention to expiration dates and not putchasing what I don't think we will consume before it expires.

Laura Webber

Amen Carrie... ditto for my family!


Hi Laura,
After reading everyone's comments its funny how much stockpiling everyone has in common. It seems that I have over bought in the past and alot has expired so I too watch for the dates now. It's great though most of the cereal expires in 2011 so if my three children haven't consumed it by then well I guess we have a problem lol. I use the froot loops with licorice string to make necklaces with my two year old and she loves it( my 12 yr old and 8yr old don't mind it either lol). As far as snacks and whatnot I have to plan ahead with two kids in school and a husband who has a vending machine addiction. He has a cabinet in his office that I try to have snacks in so that he isn't spening 20 dollars a week on junk and this way I know half the things I purchase are a little heatlthier! The chex mix for free was great and any other snacks that are on sale and I have coupons on I will stock up for sure. I also love when goldfish crackers and pretzels and whatever else I can throw in go on sale then I stock up and make my own snack mixes.


Question: How do you know what Catalina's are being offered one what products? Or when you get a dollar amount off your next purchase?

I've been couponing for almost 2 years and can generally save about 40-50% off my grocery bill!

Laura Webber

Hi Stephanie,
Often times a catalina, warning of a new offer, will print at the register a few weeks before the new promotion starts. Macomb Money Savers keeps tabs on these offers and she shares them at the bottom of her grocery posts!


Wonderful Post! LOVE IT!


I usually follow the 50% rule as well, but I've found a few items (like apple juice and graham crackers, which are staples with my kids!) that haven't gone on sale for that low in the 8 months that I've been couponing.

Apple juice I buy a month's worth at a time when it goes on sale at Meijer with a mealbox coupon (about 1.17 for 64 oz) or at Costco when there's a coupon, and I dilute it before I give it to my kids. One beautiful week there was a gift card offer at Target and I bought something like twelve or sixteen jugs for .75 each!

Graham crackers, which we eat a box of per week, seem to always be cheapest at Costco, but sometimes there's a Costco coupon. Has anyone found lower prices on either of these items?


I'm learning as I go. I started couponing last April & have worked on stockpiling. I'm finally feeling like I can wait for rock-bottom stuff now. So far this year, we would have spent over $3100.00 on groceries without coupons or sales. Our oop has been only $900 for 2 months. We're a big family of 6 with lots of big eaters, so this is a great savings so far. We want to incrementally move down that price and spend even less/month. My biggest problem? where to put stuff! I'm going to use the savings (from our monthly allocation) to purchase a freezer that will in turn help our savings further! Yeah.


I was also having the question of how do you know you have enough of a stock pile?? I am so know at this that I think I am crazy to keep buying cereal when I am running out of room to put it, but my kids love to eat it for snacks/before bedtime. How do you know if you have enough? And I have a wonderful storage area, but it is a bit damp. Fine for canned stuff, but has anyone had this issue and stored stuff in rubbermaid container for boxed stuff??

Laura Webber

I'll pose this question in a separate post!!!