Part Four: Creating a Stockpile


By now you should be starting to feel pretty confident about your coupon skills.  You’ve created a system for organizing your coupons, you’ve mastered the process of making your shopping list, and you are even getting good at filling your cart with sale items, and then making sure they ring up correctly.  You’re starting to save a lot of money on your grocery bill, and you like it.  You may even be surprised at how fun and addicting using coupons can be.

(If you are new to my blog or new to couponing, I strongly recommend that you start with Part One of my Beginner’s Guide to Coupons before reading any further.  It will all make a lot more sense that way!)

Up to this point, we have mainly focused on the “how” of using coupons–how to get organized, how to make your list, how to shop, how to check-out. It has all been very practical, step-by-step advice on the physical process of saving money with coupons.

In order to take your coupon savings to the next level, you have to also understand the “why.” Delving into the “why” too soon can just be confusing, too much information all at once. But now that you’ve got the basics down pat, I think you’re ready to dig in a little further.

Saving signficant money with coupons happens only when you change your whole way of thinking. Most people, (including me, pre-coupons), simply make a list of what they need before going to the store, and then buy what’s on the list, regardless of whether it is on sale.

Savvier shoppers may try to pick the cheapest brand, or even make an impulse buy on a sale item, but the general process is the same, while the more relaxed shoppers among us just go to the store and buy what looks good.  You know who you are.

Extreme coupon shopping is completely different. The goal is to buy as few “needed” items as possible, while mostly just stocking up on the items that are on sale. The key is to stock up when items are at their lowest price. Done cumulatively and consistently, week after week, you will soon have a well-stocked and pleasantly varied pantry of food to choose from.

As your stockpile grows, you will find that your list of “needed” items goes down each week, resulting in lower and lower grocery bills each week. (But don’t get your hopes up, it probably won’t ever make it all the way to $0)

If you’ve watched TLC’s “Extreme Couponing,” you may think the only way to have a stockpile is to dedicate a whole room of your house to creating your own mini-Walmart.

That is just not true.  You do need to have a good variety of items to choose from in your stockpile, but it isn’t necessary to buy everything on the shelves every time it goes on sale.

There is a big difference between smart shopping and hoarding!

After 2 weeks of coupon shopping, you may have managed to get your stockpile off to a good start. This week you are going to keep working on building that stockpile, following the shopping guidelines from last week, as well as work on creating a functional stockpile somewhere in your home.

Week 4 Assignment:

1. Make your list, gather your coupons, and go shopping according to the guidelines from Part 3.

  • Since right now you are working on your stockpile, feel free to stock up on any item that you use regularly, shooting for a goal of at least 50% off.
  • Eventually you will be able to get more selective with your shopping and focus only on the very best deals, but at the beginning 50% is a great goal to shoot for.
  • Don’t feel like you’ve failed if you are “only” saving 30 or 40%.  ANY savings is better than none, and sale prices can vary a LOT by stores and regions.
  • If you feel very motivated, you can repeat this process for multiple stores. The more stores you shop at, the faster you will build up your stockpile since different stores have different sale cycles.

2. Create your stockpile pantry.

  • Spend an afternoon reorganizing your pantry in a way that makes sense to you.
  • Be sure to put the newest items in the back so that you use up the older products first. It is much easier to stay organized if you start organized, so before your pile of food becomes completely overwhelming in the next month or two, I highly recommend giving some thought to your system.
  • Make your food items easy to spot and grab so that when you are planning your meals, you have no trouble finding an item.
  • If you don’t have a pantry, try to make space somewhere else. Is there some space elsewhere in the house you can clear out, perhaps in the garage or a closet in an unused bedroom? Don’t be afraid to get creative! Trust me, you’ll need the space.

For more tips on creating your stockpile, you can watch this little video of my stockpile:

And that’s it for this week: just shop create your stockpile. It might seem like a small assignment, but be prepared to spend several hours preparing your list, gathering your coupons, and doing your shopping (especially if you decide to go to more than one store), and depending on how organized you already are, getting your stockpile in order may be a challenge.

Stay tuned for next week’s assignment and, as always, please post any questions or comments you may have below.  I do read all my comments, and I make an effort to respond and answer questions as best I can.

Click here to go to Part 5: Walgreens

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{ 37 comments… add one }

  • Bonny April 20,

    I was wondering how it works on the buy 2/$1 off coupons when they are on sale 10 for $10 how many products do I buy in order to get a good discount?

    • Amber November 13,

      I suggest buying a 3-6month supply. it makes them .50 ea if you buy 2.

  • Jessica Rockwell April 26,

    Just so you know,the paylessforfood link no longer works

  • Debbie August 1,

    I love this site of yours! It has helped me out more than you could EVER imagine!! I am having a problem though with printing the coupons with the coupon printer. I have tried for a week straight. We have a Mac and we tried two different printers…Canon MP970 and Canon iP600 we have changed the settings on both the printers and have contacted several sites emailing them this same question but no one has responded. Please help me! I don’t know if I need another printer or if it’s the settings, or the browser, or what. I am grateful to you for all you do for us!! Very grateful :) Thank you- Debbie

    • Annah March 16,

      I have the same problem!!! Even my super smart hubby who is in IT can not figure it out. The printer works for all other printing but coupons and sometimes I will just randomly have coupons print from the printer that I was trying to print days before. The only option that I have found that works is using my laptop and other old laptops we have laying around the house…like i said…hubby is in IT…i finally found a use for the dust collectors. Still pretty annoying for sure though! Any help would be awesome!

  • Debbie August 2,

    I love this site of yours! It has helped me out more than you could EVER imagine!! I am having a problem though with printing the coupons with the coupon printer. I have tried for a week straight. We have a Mac and we tried two different printers…Canon MP970 and Canon iP600 we have changed the settings on both the printers and have contacted several sites emailing them this same question but no one has responded. Please help me! I don’t know if I need another printer or if it’s the settings, or the browser, or what. I am grateful to you for all you do for us!! Very grateful Thank you- Debbie

    • angie August 10,

      hi debbie. I was having the same problem with my printer too. what ended up working for me was going to finder > Applications > Utilities > Java preferences > and make sure that “Enable applet plug in…” is checked.

      hope this helps!!! any questions email me @

  • Jackie September 25,

    It is most probably your browser. Safari does not print many of the coupons online. I use Firefox and do not have any problem printing coupons on my Mac. Hope this helps.

  • phyllis October 28,

    so when a store like safeway already has a sale for 10 for $10 would I be able to use coupons on those items? or does that vary store to store? also while learning all this neat stuff…how does a dollar off coupon save money cause If I have to pay say $10 for a large pk of toilet paper I don’t think that buying three or 4 of those items is truely saving. It could be that my husband has got that imprinted in my head just sayin’. interested in your input cause I know you have the answer. thanks much.

    • Amber November 13,

      Yes, you can use coupons on 10 for $10. Most coupons will let you buy smaller sized packs. If not look for a great sale on them. a lot of the time there will be sells on the items in the coupon circulars in your area.

  • Amy December 1,

    Love your website. I started collecting my coupons about a month or two ago. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to build my stock pile very much because I’m still at the “stock-piling while buying what I need to eat stage.” And with the cold weather and Christmas coming, money’s tight so essentials more often than not have been winning out over stockpile stuff. Today, however, I scored Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate for $.67 per box. They were part of a 10/$10 sale, I had two $1/3 coupons, so I bought 6 and got $2 off. The kids will love that with the cold weather coming. The problem I have is that the only two places in town that run sales are usually the most expensive (sometimes even on sale). And living waaaay up North here, usually the prices that are posted on deal finding blogs are double up here compared to prices in the South. But, saving is saving and I can’t wait to start really seeing the difference :)

  • Peggy January 5,

    I am really loving your website and your instructions on how to stockpile and save money!. I have a question. As I have increased my products every time I go shopping, I have noticed that some of the cashiers have been asking me how many orders I have. Im not sure why they are asking me this . Did I forget something I was supposed to do? Also one of the cashiers went to the manager to ask about all the home printed manufacture coupons I had to see if Kroger has any restrictions on these. I thought a manufacturer coupon WAS as a coupon. I am now starting to see my stockpile become a stockpile ! Thank You !

  • sissy May 31,

    Where are all of these stockup places in your house? the food, it seems is ALL in the kitchen, but where is the area for all you drugstore/toiletry stockpile?

    • Google seo Tools keyword January 12,

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  • Chris November 20,

    Love your website! Without it I would be lost, especially without the print and takes! Just completed organizing our kitchen and we are ready to start “stockpiling”. Yesterday, I went to CVS and bought $46.00 worth of goodies, where with all the rewards and coupons I used, I really only spent $3.36. Thank you so much for all the hard work you do in keeping this the best site for couponing! Keep it up!

  • Kimberly November 29,

    When a coupon says “Consumer: Limit one coupon per purchase of products and quanities stated” Can I still use that manufacture coupon and a store coupon together? Also, One Coupon Per Purchase, Can I do seperate transactions to get more than one of the same item?

  • JonDee December 11,

    Thank you this website has been super helpful. Thank you so much for posting the part about building your stock pile. I have been couponing for about three weeks and was feeling a little overwhelmed and discouraged but now I feel better about things. Just gotta keep working at it.


  • Leo March 19,

    Hi! If I see an item on sale local grocery example Birds Eye SteamFresh Vegetables for $.99 I am trying to search all over for some sort of coupon. Is there an easy way to find these coupons? Seems like most of the coupon sites are link to the same coupon database.

    • Angela March 24,

      Try googling that specific product to see if there are any coupons on it. It might take a little more searching doing it that way, but it will direct you closer than just floundering around, looking in random areas of the internet trying to find it. Also, to quickly search a coupon database, on each page hit “Ctrl + f” to open up a search bar somewhere in your browser. Then type in the product you are looking for, and the computer will find the matching words somewhere on the page you’re on if it’s there. That way you don’t have to spend hours actually looking, but can have the computer look for some key words for you. Hopefully that helps you save a bit of time.

  • Kateryna April 8,

    I just started couponing, today was my first shopping trip. I spent 4 hours at 3 different stores having all the coupons I found from magazines ( yes, I emptied trashcans next to every mailbox in our apt community). Unfortunately, I don’t have a printer at home, so I wasn’t able to get digital coupons. But still I saved 50% of my money which I think is pretty good for the first time. Thanks to the author of this topic for all the tips she shared with us!

  • Shannon Quinn April 11,

    I’m SOOO glad I found this website! Thank you!

  • Kami Jo April 14,

    Just read through all the steps, I am excited to start my stocking my stockpile.

  • Brandi Murphy September 20,

    Hi Ruth! I love your blog and have started (slowly) going thru your Couponing 101 series. I have noticed that many of the (better) deals listed on the coupon matchup sites are not available at my local store. We live in a rural part of TN and I have wondered if that makes a difference. Also, any tips on saving on organic foods and produce? Thanks so much! =)

  • Amarilys October 30,

    I am very frustrated! I clipped my coupons, did my stacking, kept the list and prices and still spent $40 over!!

    What am i doing wrong??



  • Laura Adams January 7,

    I enjoyed reading through these 4 posts about coupons and have wanted to try it many times before just to save a little more. I’m willing to give this a go, but my real concern is the whole idea of stockpiling. My husband and I and my sister live in an apartment and there is absolutely nowhere to stockpile food. If I just buy what we need every week or every couple of weeks, can coupons still save me a significant amount of money? Also, any time I do look at coupons, I feel like they’re all for junk/processed food or things we won’t use. Is this the norm or am I just not familiar enough with the coupon trends? I would really appreciate your thoughts on these questions. Thanks!

  • James L. Mullins January 20,

    I just watched another episode of Extreme Couponing. I could not understand why people were creating stockpiles of items that they only purchased because they could get them for free or next to nothing. I had planned to go on to the show’s website to post a comment. However, I clicked on your’s instead. Thank you so much for writing …”Extreme coupon shopping…The goal is to buy as few “needed” items as possible, while mostly stocking up on items that are on sale.” I guess the key is to stock up on items that you will one day use versus stockpliling for the sake of stockpiling, i.e. 1000 tubes of tooth paste and 5 years of body wash. Thank you again – You made my day.

  • James L. Mullins January 20,

    Sorry for not catching my typing error – stockpliling rather than stockpiling.

  • Sharon February 3,

    Hi Ruth,
    Your site is great! Your “Baby Steps” approach has helped me not to get overwhelmed. I have spent a lot of time working on Steps 1-3, it is starting to come together! I have gotten some really good deals that I am very happy about. I’m excited for this week #4 to really begin stockpiling. I have one question that I am rather stuck on….Do you cut and sort all of the Smart Source and Red Plum circulars each week into your binder? OR do you only cut what you need and leave the remains of the flyer in it’s marked folder? I’m just not clear on how that process should work. Thanks so much!!

  • Anonymous April 3,


  • Mary Beth April 19,

    What’s the best way to save on perishable food, like meats and fruits.

  • Inaya April 24,

    We live in a tiny studio apartment that’s already full. We have 2 cubic feet of freezer space (which is mostly taken up with catfood). We have no car, so we can only shop at stores within easy walking distance (1 supermarket and CVS), and we can only bring home a limited amount of groceries per trip since we have to carry it all home ourselves on foot. Since we can’t stockpile and can’t buy in bulk, should we even bother to attempt extreme couponing?

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    Hey there, You’ve done an incredible job. I’ll certainly digg it
    and personally suggest to my friends. I am confident they’ll be benefited from this

  • sandy October 12,

    I took your advice and I did my first shopping trip and I got 4 bottles of cocentrate mr clean and 4 bottles of dish soap and 4 cans of fabreeze andbwith my store discount card andba instant 5 dollar off coupon and my newspaper foupons I got itnall for only 80 cents!

  • December 7,

    hi!,I lime your writing so a lot! proportion we keep up a correspondence extra approximately your
    article on AOL? I need an expert on this space to unravel my problem.
    Maybe that’s you! Looking ahdad to look you.

  • melaine February 21,

    How long usually a coupon good for also how am I savings if I buy 3 boxes ca of cake mix 2.00 off and they 2.00 a piece how are they free


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