Now, I'm not claiming to be a coupon expert...oh god no...but I want to share with you my coupon journey. That journey involves no stockpiling. I've been couponing mainly on beauty products for the past month & just now feel comfortable branching out into non-beauty products. The other day I scored an awesome deal on laundry detergent (I'm actually thinking about picking more up on this sale because who doesn't need laundry detergent....but that is on the verge of stock piling for me!) So below I just want to share with you what goes through my head when I'm trying to coupon:
Keep track of sales & check store sale weekly - If you have enough time I'd suggest keeping track of store sales. I've heard the average sale cycle is 6-8 weeks. To me, ain't no body got time for dat. Dat being keeping a sales book, comparing prices, and traveling from store to store. There are 2 stores I mainly shop at - CVS & Meijer. However, I do want to start at least keeping an idea of the rotation of sales. But also I check the sales at CVS each week which easy because you can view the ad online usually on Saturday nights. I also check our Meijer's ad and clip their coupons often through their mPerks app on my phone & iPad. It doesn't hurt to save a little something when you go in. Even if you're not dropping you're $150 grocery bill down to $2. Also try doubling coupons on top of sales. Meijer had a good sale on paper towels last week & they had a coupon on their mPerks app. And it turned out to be a bit better to buy a huge pack than a small pack.
Buy what you need when you need it (part 1) - While you can keep track of sales, the best thing to do is to buy what you need when you need it & stock up when it's on sale. The best example of this is the laundry detergent I just bought. Zach & I are a two person household so laundry detergent goes a loooong way. Recently I bought 3 Arm & Hammer 32 load detergent bottles at 3 for $7.49 (a buy 1, get 2 free deal). It would have been sweeter with another coupon on top, but alas I did not have one. So I know we are going to need more laundry detergent in the near future, I keep that in the back of my mind as I'm out looking for deals. I saw that deal & stocked up because 96 loads can last us at least 8 months (I do about 3 loads of laundry a week). So the point of this is to buy what you need when you need it. Do I care that I got Arm & Hammer and not Tide? Nope, we don't have sensitive skin nor do we notice the change in any sort of way from different brands. Same sort of thing with toothpaste & tooth brushes - if you find a really good sale & are down enough in that department to justify picking up a few, do it. I try to have no more that 3 things depending on the size. Ain't no body got room for a serious stock pile (but if you do, go for it!) Toothpaste is small so 3 items take up no space while detergent can be bulky so 3 things might end up being too much.
Buy what you need when you need it (part 2) - Don't buy 3 of a product you tend to change up often. I bought Pantene shampoo on a great sale once right before I decided to try out Suave Moroccan Infusion line and now I have a whole bunch of shampoo that I don't want to use because I have a new favorite. Same with face wash - I'm getting bored of my L'Oreal Youth Code collection but I have 2 other face washes I need to use and I don't want to because I want to try something new. The other side of this is you can always donate anything unopened through your church or other group that may collect for a shelter. Along the same lines - if you have 3 of something but want to try something new, try with all your might to use it all up before you migrate. You might also find that you won't get a bang up deal all the time when you wait around to buy what you need but try to double up coupons and purchase the smaller item to save the most, shop with your rewards (like CVS Extra Bucks), and keep in mind when you'll need to be looking for this item again.
Clip coupons for what you need - Don't need any cat food? Then don't select clip all on coupons.com because you'll be printing for days. Take the time to clip things you are thinking you will need & keep in mind what you'll be in search of over the next month or so. Keep a mental list or an actual list...doesn't matter, but clip what you need & not everything. It's always nice to have extra coupons on hand for Advil and the like as you may need to run out and get some randomly. Think a tummy ache with no Pepto or suddenly sick with no NyQuil. It doesn't hurt to save even a little bit.
You don't have to use a coupon (part 1) - Just because you have one doesn't mean you have to use it. Along the same lines as part 1 & 2 above - I have a $2.00 off two Head & Shoulders shampoo which both of us use sometimes. We are nearly out with only half of a back up bottle (don't ask me how that happened) so it's time to start looking for a good deal. While I'm writing this, CVS has Head & Shoulder's as 2 for $10 so with that coupon it brings it down to $8. Well the CVS brand shampoo is something like 2 for $7...so that's not a great deal. I don't have to use the coupon and in fact I lose out a dollar when it comes to overall savings. That Head & Shoulders coupon is good for another month or so, so if & when I find a better deal I can use it. But until then we are set on a back up there's no need to waste a dollar.
You don't have to use a coupon (part 2) - Stacking generic store coupons - like $3 off $15 in beauty type of coupons - may help get a store brand product for free. For example, I have a $1.10 off of an Olay body wash but I got the CVS brand for free using a CVS $1 off $$ body wash or shower gel coupon + a $5 Extra Buck reward. That brought the $5.99 CVS body wash down to free when I would have paid something like $3 for the Olay brand. That was a good price to grab another & use the coupon before it expired. Sooooo I guess if you can use a coupon you should - but only if it's going to be awesome.
Mix & match BOGO sales - If you can mix & match your BOGO sales so you aren't stocking up on too many of one thing. A good example is with the CVS beauty department. Often they will have a sale where Maybelline, Revlon, & Almay are buy one, get one 50% off. Look carefully but usually that means you can pick up one Maybelline and one Revlon item & get the lesser one 50% off. I did this in Meijer the other day - knowing I need more Suave conditioner I picked up a large Suave conditioner & dry shampoo along with a Pantene hairspray because the deal was buy 2 of any Suave or Pantene product, get one free. I use conditioner a lot so I got the big bottle. I don't have any more dry shampoo. And I find my self needing hair spray again but not too often so I picked up the smaller bottle of hair spray. That meant my hair spray was free. By mixing & matching and buying the sizes/quantities you need you'll never be over purchasing.
So those are a few tips I have on couponing & saving without stock piling. If you think you need a garage full of paper towels then do it but even saving 20% on something is worth it, in my opinion as I don't have room for floor to ceiling paper towels in my garage.
How do you save money on everyday items?