How many times have you hopped in the shower only to realize you've run out of shampoo? Later you run over to the nearest store and buy some, right? Wrong! You should never run out of shampoo, or anything else for that matters (non-perish-ably speaking), if you stockpile your household staples. The best part is you can pay less -- and I mean way less -- than the retail price on everything.
If extreme couponing is a game, stockpiling is the championship round. Timing is everything. You collect lots of coupons and wait for the in-store sales to use them, so you get multiple discounts. Then you buy the items you use regularly in large quantities (3-6 month cycles or longer, depending on the item and the sale) so you never have to pay full price.
Before you run screaming from the computer ranting about people needing to get a life, know that with a little planning it becomes second nature. Grocery prices are on the rise again. Think about the money you'll save! Start with a few key items. Develop a rule of thumb -- say 50 percent off or more -- so you don't even need to think twice about when to act.
Take a look at the following list of ideas for grocery items to stockpile, plus a few more stockpiling tricks.
1. Toilet Paper
Lately, the price of TP seems to be going up, making it definitely worth stockpiling. So go forth and collect toilet paper coupons. Wait and watch for your favorite to go on sale, which is easier than you think. For example, my local grocery puts new items on sale every Wednesday like clockwork. Check the paper or look online for the store circular. When a sale hits, do a bit of math to figure out your discount. If it meets your target of a 50-percent discount, go for it!
Let's say a large tube of Colgate toothpaste is on sale for $1.99. Add onto that a $0.75 coupon plus another $1 off from a sale booklet the store passed out three weeks ago, and the final price is $0.24.
Sometimes you don't have to worry so much about limits. I scored big time on deodorant during my grocer's "Mega Event" sale, during which you're royally invited to buy more items, with a discount on all of them. If you've dutifully collected your coupons, these are great times to stockpile. If the store sells out, ask for a rain check. If your coupons expire before the item is restocked, the store should still honor them.
Families need a discount on cereal. My kids eat it and I admit I eat it too. There are always grocery coupons for cereal out there somewhere, but you should stockpile it because it's so expensive to begin with and it lasts (unopened) for a long time. But be sure to ration it. Hide it if you must for, left unguarded, your cereal stockpile will be zeroed-out by your kids in a matter of weeks.
5. Olive Oil
Did you know there's a 115-foot high hill in Rome known as Monte Testaccio. It's entirely composed of something like 53-million used olive oil jugs. Ancient Romans really liked their olive oil and knew how to store it. So can you.
Olive oil will keep for about six months in a cool, dark pantry and up to a year in the refrigerator. Unopened peanut oil, corn oil and vegetable oil will keep for at least a year. Once opened, they're good for four to six months.
The Vinegar Institute says vinegar's shelf life is almost indefinite. Stockpiling perfection! Because of its acidity, vinegar is self-preserving and doesn't need refrigeration. Even the super-cloudy type that looks like it'll kill you is still good. (I've tried it myself). Plus, white vinegar has so many uses. See VinegarTips for 1,001 of them.
If you're not picky about brands, you can get stuff for nearly free. Sometimes you can actually get products for free or even "make money" with negative balances. Learn more about this on our blog post "The 5 Rules of When To Use Coupons."
8. Laundry Detergent
First of all, may I remind you that laundry detergent is a frugal-friendly item, even without a sale. Never use more than half the manufacturer-recommended amount of detergent for a load of wash! You just saved 50 percent right there. Now I'm going to use this item as an example for Catalina coupons. Fear not, this is just another way to save using coupons, and you can try it when you're ready. Stay with me now:
I think most of you are familiar with the "check-out coupons" that print out with your receipt. They're also called Catalinas. Generally, they're manufacturer's coupons, but sometimes you'll get a store coupon to use like cash on your next order.
Purex laundry detergent is on sale for two-for-$5 this week. And -- get this -- if you buy $20 worth, you'll get a $5 Catalina coupon at checkout. If you're stockpiling, of course, you're ready with eight $1 coupons, so you buy eight bottles on sale, pay only $12 with coupons, and get back $5 as a Catalina coupon. Your final cost per bottle is $0.88.
Another staple I hope will -- like the oil and vinegar -- get you thinking out of the box is condiments. Stock up on ketchup, mustard, relishes and mayonnaise. Memorial Day will bring sales on these perfect accompaniments to your grilled burger or hot dog, so look for coupons now.
What other products do you like to stockpile and how do you get the best prices on these items?