Readers Write: Stockpiling and Internet Coupon Fraud

It's time to answer some questions from readers like you who are learning to Super-Coupon:

Q: I read your column about stockpiling groceries that you find on sale. How much do I need to buy at one time of something to stockpile it? I'm not comfortable doing bulk buying.

A: "Stockpiling" is a term that many coupon enthusiasts use to refer to the practice of buying ahead of schedule. When we stockpile, we attempt to beat the stores at their own pricing games by buying enough of an item to sustain our household's needs until the next time that item goes on sale. It doesn't necessarily refer to bulk buying but rather just buying more than you immediately need.

If an item is nonperishable or has a long shelf life, buy as many of that item as you have coupons for. Add them to your stockpile, and use them over the next few weeks instead of running to the store for that item.

Here's an example. If pasta sauce is on sale for $1.29, and I have six 75-cent coupons, I will buy six jars of sauce and pay just 54 cents a jar. While my immediate needs for this week's meal would only include one jar, the price of the pasta sauce will likely be back up to $2.99 next week. When I decide to make pasta again, I can go down to my pantry and get another jar, which I bought at 54 cents. I don't need to go to the grocery store and pay full price, because I bought a little more than I needed last week when it was on sale.

When you think about doing this on a larger scale with everything we buy, it's easy to see how we can save in the long term. It's not bulk buying so much as it is buying just a little more than we need in the short term. You will become comfortable with "shopping at home" for those items from your own pantry versus running to the store and paying that higher price. Stockpiling teaches you to shop on a price-based basis versus a needs-based basis.

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