Why are there differences in the Sunday coupons I get and the ones you list? I even notice that sometimes the amounts are different.
The reason is that the coupon inserts are regional. There is a national list set at the beginning of the year, but it changes as each Sunday insert comes around. Different manufacturers pull coupons/ads, or change them depending (I would assume on market information). So, you will see them differ by region.
When you first began stockpiling, how much was your weekly grocery budget? How long did it take you to start seeing an opportunity to lower that?
This is a question I get quite often, and it doesn’t have a straight answer, but I’ll try to provide a little direction.
Have a Grocery Budget Set: First off, you need to know what your grocery budget is going to be. It sounds like you do, but for those of you who don’t, you would want to do a review of your expenses versus your income to see at what amount you can afford to set your grocery budget. Once you have set your grocery budget you need to determine what goes on the list, your needs versus stockpiling items.
List Needs and Stockpile Opportinities: Each week when you do your grocery list, you will want to start with adding your “needs” to your list. Make out your meal plan according to what you already have on hand, and what is on sale in the store fliers that week. Your list should start with your staples you purchase each week like milk, eggs, produce etc, and then you add the items to round out your meal plan on your list.
Use Remaining Budget For Stocking Up: Add up all those things and see what your difference is – How much do you have left to work with? That would be your “stock-up” budget for that week. So, over the next few weeks what you will see is that the “need” items on the list will begin to shrink, which will allow you more of a budget to purchase your “stock-up” items.
Lowering Overall Budget: As you begin to create a stockpile, you can slowly start to decrease your budget a little every few weeks because you have most everything you need. Your “needs” on the list will begin to shrink and the majority of each weeks budget will be spent on items that are a really good deal, at “rock-bottom” prices.
How long did it take you to get to $40 a week?
To get to your target grocery budget, whether it is $40 or $80, you must have your stockpile in place. For me it took around 3-6 months, but that is going to vary depending on your current financial situation. If you don’t have a lot of extra money to work with, it will take you a little longer to stockpile, because you can’t get as much of something when it is on sale.
Also, one thing to note, $40 a week won’t work for everyone. If you have a large family, especially of big eaters, you will probably have to up it a little. Another thing that helps get you there is meal planning. Go here for meal planning resources.
Now that you have a full pantry and freezer, how much do you pay for an item to stockpile (assuming you do not need it this week)? $2 or less? 60% off or less? What is a good guideline?
Since products vary in price and quality, I can’t get you a specific dollar amount per item, but a percentage I shoot for is at least 50%. Now, there are some items we love that NEVER go on sale. So, if I can get them for 30% off I am happy. The best way to know your prices is to keep a pricing sheet or notebook, and record where and what the best prices are that you find for particular items. In the beginning, I did a few shopping “field trips” to help me get an idea of standard pricing on our most purchased items.
If I wanted to, I could keep my weekly grocery budget at $100 a week. Between all the grocery stores and drug stores, I’m sure I could use all of this every week and not take the budget down. Any thoughts?
The question is: “Do you NEED $100 of groceries each week?”. If the answer is yes, because you have a large family, special dietary needs , or you are using that budget to give and donate to food pantry, then I say keep it there. I have found that my family of 4 can easily live on $40 a week if I am organized and disciplined. We will up our budget or have a separate budget for baby items like formula and diapers, but for our main food staples, toiletries, and cleaning items, I can usually catch things on sale, clearance and with coupons to fit into our budget.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the Kroger Mega Savings Event and I’m trying to figure out how the couponing works when you’re buying in bulk. Can I stack 10 manufacturers coupons (1 per item) or is that too many. How do you know what the limit is?
Yes, these types of sales can be VERY overwhelming, but the key is to use the resources out there to do all the work for you. My blog and many others like it take all the work out of it for you. So, utilize what you have. Go here to see a list of some of my recommended blog resources.
You will have to call your specific store to see what their coupon policy is on maximum number of the same coupon used per transaction. I know that in the past, Harris Teeter has had policies on triples day that you can only use 3 of one kind of coupon.
Harris Teeter told me for their BOGOF offers, you can only use 1 MFC. It seems like Publix and Kroger let you use 2 manufacturers coupons (1 for each item). Does that sound right?
Yes, Harris Teeter has a very different and ever changing coupon policy. I would direct you to their coupon policy here to check before you go on your trips. I have found that Publix and Kroger typically allow 1 coupon per item purchased.
With BOGOF or Buy One Get One Free sales, if the stores policy is that you can buy one at 50% off, it makes perfect sense to use one coupon per item. However, in a store that has a policy where you must purchase both items to get the savings, it makes sense to only use one coupon. You will just need to check with your particular store to see their policies.
What if you see an item you want and you do not have the right hard copy issue of SS (Smart Source) or RP (RedPlum). Can you get that coupon online somewhere? Are Internet Coupons and hard copy coupons duplicates of each other (i.e. you either clip them or print them) or are they separate entities?
Typically when you find a coupon in your SS or RP (Smart Source or Red Plum) inserts, they are available somewhere on the Internet. But, that doesn’t guarantee that there is an IP (Internet printable) available. You can go here to find a list of many different places to get printable coupons.
If you are using a competitor’s store coupon, like a Food Lion coupon at Publix, can you use it for a store brand? (ex: coupon for Food Lion brand diapers, can you use for Publix brand diapers)
Yes, actually you SHOULD use it for a store brand. Think of it this way, Publix takes Food Lion coupons because they would rather you buy their brand and stay at their store, than go to Food Lion to get one item cheaper.
Are there things you buy that tend to NEVER have coupons? (I could only think of a few: produce, eggs, beer)
Definitely, there are some items, but honestly off the top of my head I can’t think of many! I have found all kinds of coupons, and lately I have found an abundance of organic coupons. Anyone else?
If Coupon Mom lists a coupon and where to find it, then you go to find it and it’s not there, is there a way to cross reference and actually find the coupon they are referencing?
Coupons are regional, so sometimes coupons are listed in their regional list and then for unknown reasons the manufacturer decides to pull coupons from particular regions. I see that happen a lot, not just on the Coupon Mom database. The only way to really cross reference is to try a different database, you might check out Hot Coupon World’s here.
One store I go to bit that I didn’t hear you talk about or see on your website is Babies R Us. Do you know much about their prices and coupon policies? I know they put our their own coupons and take manufacturers, but I don’t know about competitor coupons. Does Publix take their coupons?
Babies R Us is not a place I go often, I get most of what I need at my grocery or drug stores. They do have great fliers and store coupons, but I would check with your local store to see what their coupon policies. A great resource for all things baby is a blog called Baby Cheapskate.
Publix takes competitor coupons, but I am not sure about Babies R Us. I would call the customer service desk at your store to see their policies.
What are you top “good buys” at Costco?
Go here for a full list.
How do I download the Templates, they are only thumbnails?
These are just previews of what you will receive when you purchase the Template package.
Can you post zip codes to printable coupon on the coupons sites?
I don’t post zip codes that pull up coupons because the coupon sites intended those to only be for certain zip codes. So, if you put in your zip code and it shows up you are in luck!