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There is one more thing about coupons that isn’t necessarily a “how-to,” but more of a reminder. Ethics and doing what is right.
When a store has a super sale going on, and you can get things for really cheap or even free, go ahead and take advantage of it. Buy what you can and put some back for later. Most sales go in cycles, but it could be quite a while before you see a price like that on an item again. If it’s not something perishable (toiletries come to mind here), then put it away for later when you need it.
Most of the places I’ve seen call it stockpiling. The goal is to have enough in your stockpile so that you don’t ever have to pay full price for an item. By buying extra when an item is on sale, you can go for longer periods of time before buying more. It’s nice to avoid paying full retail price for something when you know you can get it for whatever your target price is.
One of the things for me is toothpaste. Stephen prefers one brand, and it happens to be a brand I can get for free with coupons. There is enough stored at our house that I shouldn’t ever just have to run to the store to buy more and actually pay out of pocket for it. That’s not been by buying a lot at any one time – just by getting 2-3 tubes when they’re free with coupons. When I notice the number of tubes on my shelf is getting low, I start looking for more sales to get more free tubes. You can do this with quite a few things.
A person’s stockpile is limited by one main thing – storage space. We don’t have a lot of extra storage room in our house, so I try to be careful with how much I bring home to stockpile. Some say that a good rule of thumb is a year – keep a year’s worth of any one item in the house so you can always get it at rock-bottom price. For our house, that’s just not practical. For others, it is.
There’s one thing I want to caution you about with stockpiling though. It actually applies to couponing in general, not just stockpiling. It’s greed. Don’t just buy items because they’re free. Just because you can buy 40 bottles of window cleaner at once, doesn’t mean you should. If you really need the cleaner, then yes, buy it. But don’t just get it because it’s cheap and you have a ton of coupons. If you buy so much that you end up having to throw some away after a while, you’ve bought too much. Be careful that your stockpiling doesn’t become hoarding.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to discourage stockpiling at all. It’s the mindset behind the stockpile and the tendency for greed that is the problem. It’s a heart matter. Some people will have bigger stockpiles than others. No problems there. But when the stockpile is built because of greed, there is the problem.
Also, be considerate when you coupon. Please be mindful of others who are doing it because they need to. There are people who may be depending on those deals to stretch their grocery budget enough to afford everything on the list. If you buy a bunch, just because you can, you may be depriving others of getting what they need.
That is something I’ve seen repeatedly during the triple coupon promotions around here. My store’s policy is that there’s a limit of 3 like items per customer, so people get around it by going multiple times a day or sending other people in their family to go get more. Unfortunately, by doing that, they clean the shelves of the really good items, leaving very little for others.
I don’t say that as a guilt trip – just as a reminder to be considerate. People so easily get caught up in “I bought 347 boxes of cereal for only $2 today and they had to clean out the back of the store for me to get them! What a deal!” Yet somehow they don’t realize how that can affect others when they’re just being greedy.
Another thing to be mindful of is store policies. If the limit is 3 of an item, then stop at three. Don’t try to go back into the store 14 more times that same day just to get more. The store employees know who is abusing the system, and the stores that double or even triple coupons can easily stop those promotions. I’d hate to be the one that the store manager dreads seeing every time I walk through the door! Please follow the rules, so that everyone else doesn’t have to suffer when stores tighten the rules about couponing.