How $25 a Month Can Save You Hundreds

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In the Spring of 2011, I bought over 400 bottles of 32 oz Ready-to-Feed Similac without paying a dime.  You see, in October of 2010, I gave premature birth to my youngest.  Within days of his birth, I went into heart failure.  We ended up in the same hospital – me on one end dealing with postpartum cardiomyopathy and my little guy at the other end in the NICU fighting for his life.

We both made it through, but the medicines they subscribed left me unable to breastfeed as I had done with my other children.  I was left scrambling trying to figure out how we could afford formula, which is why I was ecstatic when Similac released two high-value coupons with long expiration dates that let me score enough free formula from Walmart to last the entire first year of my baby boy’s life.   It saved me hundreds of dollars and taught me the value of stockpiling.  You don’t need to wait on a great coupon to start stockpiling, and your stockpile doesn’t need to built quickly.  Setting aside $25 a month in your grocery budget and following these few tips will be enough to do the trick.

  • Don’t Add to Your Budget (Use $25 from your existing grocery budget to start your stockpile)

    • If $25 is a stretch for you, start with $10.
    • It might be tough at first, but as you build your stockpile, you’ll end up lowering your total grocery budget.
      • Your list right now most likely has one or two of each of your family’s staple items. As you start stockpile shopping, your list will dwindle down to just fresh food items combined with a few stockpile items.
  • Follow the Sales Ads

  • Even if you don’t coupon, you need to shop the ads. Look for loss leaders.  These are those items designed specifically to get you in the store because they are at amazingly low prices.  Take advantage of them!
    • If an item is on sale for 50% off or better, that’s your cue to buy more!
      • If an item is 75% off or more, really stock up.
    • Look for just one or two deals to start with.  You don’t need to get every deal, just start out with a couple that will benefit your family the most.
    • If there are no good sales for the week, wait!
    • Use coupons to make the deals even better.
      • Here’s an example: If your family pays $4 a month for toothpaste, and your toothpaste is on sale for $1, buy four.  Better still, use coupons if they are available and buy eight.  You’ll save $28 over the next seven months by buying eight.
  • Learn the sales cycles

  • After watching the ads for a while, you’ll start to see patterns.  Your family’s favorite items go on sale at their lowest price about every 3-6 months. Figure out those sales cycles to get the biggest bang for your buck.
  • You already know some of them!
    • Spring brings sales on eggs, hams, earth-friendly and organic items around Earth Day, plus fresh fruits and veggies
    • Summer has bargains on barbecue, sandwich fare, ice cream, and all kinds of fruits and veggies
    • Fall offers up great deals on back-to-school snacks and supplies, cold and flu essentials, candy, turkey
    • Winter sets you up with soups, crock-pot essentials, batteries, and anything you’d expect to see on a Christmas dinner table.
  • Consider shopping somewhere else

  • If you really want to save, consider shopping other stores.
    • Drug stores often have phenomenal health and beauty deals that can’t be beat at big box or grocery stores.
    • Other grocery stores might be running a hot sale when your store has a quiet week.
    • Wholesale clubs can have some great deals, especially with coupons.
  • Increase your stockpile budget when you can

    • Once you’ve gotten a stockpile of household essentials and pantry items, your monthly budget will reduce.  Your stockpile allowance can stay at $25 and still have an impact, or increase it to further grow your stockpile.
    • Allowing yourself an increased budget means you can buy an entire year’s supply when the prices are at their lowest.
      • I buy granola bars in bulk every August.  My husband eats a box a week for his breakfast which means I need 52 boxes per year.  At normal price, they’re around $2.50 a box.  I could buy them in bulk and pay the equivalent of $1.70 a box, but in August I can find them on sale for $1 a box.  I buy enough for the entire year saving my family $78 vs buying them weekly.
    • Never go above your original grocery budget.
  • Don’t go after every deal!

  • Getting great buys is exciting so it’s easy to want to try and hop on every single fantastic sale.  Stick within your budget, and know that the sale will come around again.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed a sale at one grocery store, just to have an almost-identical sale pop up at another store the next week.
  • Be creative with storage

    • Use drawers, shelves, closets, and pantries to their max potential.  Under-the-bed storage boxes work great for holding toothpastes, razors, and toiletries.
    • Add cubes to the bottom or shelves to the tops of closets.
    • Over-the-door organizers make fantastic storage spots that don’t take up any extra space.  They provide great storage for toothbrushes, toothpastes, extra pencils and pens, medicines, and extra cleaning supplies.
    • Get a bathroom space-saver for toiletries.
  • Watch expiration dates

    • Before you buy a year’s supply of anything, look at the expiration dates.  Some pantry items and toiletries are good for years.  The last thing you want is to throw out items that have expired.
  • Grocery Coupon Divas