Extreme couponer, Jordon Cox, explains how stocking up on discounted essentials can save you money on your annual supermarket shopping budget.
The average UK household spends £489 a month on grocery shopping, a figure which is constantly growing due to rising food costs.
The consumer price index reported that food prices at grocery stores could rise 3% or more in 2014.
These rising prices are pushing people’s budget barriers and the UK public are constantly looking for even more ways to save money.
By using a variety of money saving methods, including bulk buying, it is possible to reduce this average and save money on your shopping in the long run.
The idea of stockpiling potentially has a negative stereotype attached. After TV shows and media portrayal, we are often shown an extreme and un-relatable method of money saving.
I often hear comments referring to extreme couponers hording hundreds of packets of toilet roll. This is an exaggerated version of stockpiling and is advertised for the shock factor rather than a tool to save money.
While it is possible to pick up products for next to nothing and have a year’s supply of goods, many of us can’t support storing a mini supermarket at home.
Creating a stockpile of non-perishable food is possible, even a small collection, and will save you £100’s each year by reducing your annual supermarket shopping budget, sometimes cutting your grocery bills in half.
Building up your stockpile to save isn’t as instant as using coupons. It will not happen overnight, but will build up over time. It can take up to three months before your stockpile saves you money. When this tips over however, the savings outweigh the upfront costs.
By teaming this money-saving method with coupons, cash-back and in-store deals, you’ll never have to buy a product full price again.
If you too are tired of always paying full price for your shopping, here are my top 10 tips on starting a stock pile of your own.
1. Make a master list
The best way to save is to reduce your average spend on repeatedly purchased products. Make a list of all the products you and other members of your household always use.
Be sure to pick products you know will not be wasted; I always start with the groceries that are added to my shopping trolley every week.
With this list you’ll only ever buy what you need rather than be tempted to splurge on a ‘good deal’ – remember, it’s only saving if you use it. Wasting products is wasting money, no matter how good the deal is.
2. Stay organised
As with any money saving method, staying organised is key. To make sure you are on top of savings, create a list of all your products and what you paid for them.
This will be a great reward when you’ve realised how much you’ve saved over time and will offer a go-to book of savings.
With your up-to-date list you’ll know when you’re next due a sale, what shop is the best to visit for certain products and discounts and when it is time to stock up again.
3. Shop the sales
The most important aspect to creating a stockpile is that you always save on your products. Only stock up when the saving is exceptional, especially if you can add to it with a coupon or cash back. I personally only consider bulk buying when the item has at least 60% off.
It might be worth creating a minimum discount list of products, this will allow you to make easy decisions when in the supermarket on whether to stock up or put down until a better opportunity comes around. For example, products seem to go on sale every 10-12 weeks, so there might be a better deal released soon.
4. Shop for your space
Work out what space you have and are willing to save for your stockpile. There is little point buying a year’s supply of shampoos and conditioners if you only have two shelves spare; you’d be better buying 3 months’ worth and having more space for a variety of everyday products. You would be surprised, however, how little space a good stock pile can take up. I have a few places where I keep my goods throughout the house which means it’s not all bulked in one area and allows me to stockpile more overall.
5. Keep it fresh
To support the tip above it is best to find a good place to store all your products. Depending on what food or products you wish to store, you may need a freezer, a cool place or somewhere with no direct sunlight etc.
Therefore it is always prudent to think what you’re planning on stockpiling and checking the products first on how best to store them. You’re going to want to make sure you don’t waste any of the products you’ve bought.
6. Be prepared to pay
Stockpiling doesn’t save you money straight away as you’ll need to bulk buy the products when they’re at their cheapest to see the savings over time. Now, however, is a great time to start stockpiling. You will see your average shop increase while you start to build up, but the savings will start to show around the holiday season and will hopefully carry you through to Christmas, when we could all do with extra savings.
7. Know your products
It may seem obvious but it is important that you know what products are good to stockpile and how long you can keep them for. Items which are great for storing are everyday essentials like pasta, rice, flour, paper goods and toiletries. Canned goods, sauces and condiments, snacks like crisps and granola bars plus cleaning products and drinks are also great due to their long shelf lives and easy storage requirements. Look out for great deals on these when you shop.
8. Beating brand loyalty
If you, or a member of your household, love a specific type of product or brand it can be hard to repeatedly save money. Stockpiling on these products when they are on offer is one of your only options to keep the cost of these purchases down.
It is always worth buying the product, even if you’re not out, when they are on an exceptional deal as the likelihood is that it will be another couple of months until it happens again, meaning next week you’ll be forced to pay full price. This type of saving is especially good for condiments like tomato ketchup or mayonnaise.
9. When to stockpile perishables
Stockpiling perishables can be tricky, however it is possible as long as you prepare. These types of products can be expensive, so buying when discounted will make a big difference to your annual budget. With food wastage a growing issue however, it is integral that there is as little wastage as possible should you wish to store products with a shorter shelf life.
Other than freezing meat and bread, vegetables can be made into sauces and saved; fruit turned into jam, milk and some cheeses can also be frozen and stored for up to 6 months. It is worth checking individual products and storage requirements to make the most of stockpiling perishables.
10. Stock for the season
Seasonal savings are a great way to stock up on cheap products for the rest of the year. Certain deals and offers will be available at specific times of the year and, if you’re not fussy, these can lead to great savings. For example, chocolate Easter eggs or Christmas goodies – they are always discounted after the holiday but usually have long shelf lives.
I once bought 15 boxes of tissues for the price of 1. They were Christmas themed and therefore heavily reduced, buying multiple boxes lasted me throughout winter plus saved me over £13.
If you’ve started a stockpile and want to share your success, join me and other couponers on Facebook at www.facebook.com/couponshopuk.
See more couponing tips next week on Jordon’s money saving column.