Stocking up can save in store cycle of sales

Jill Cataldo

Q: I have embraced stockpiling. I've seen how much money I can save by shopping sales cycles and stocking up. I usually buy about three month's worth of an item, but there are times I wonder if I should stock up even more. Do you purchase in quantities that last longer than 12 weeks?

A: Since most supermarkets run on a 12-week sales cycle, buying 12 weeks' worth of a sale item helps us save money. If my family eats two boxes of crackers each month, I try to buy six when our favorite goes on sale. That lasts us until the next time the price drops.

Have there been instances when I buy even more than 12 weeks' worth of something? Absolutely! Sometimes a store may offer a special price or a product may be discounted in a promotion. To decide if it's worth buying more, consider:

When is the expiration date? If the product doesn't expire for many months, it may be worth buying more than my usual stock-up amount. There was a sale on canned tomatoes for 69 cents per can. For every five cans purchased, a shopper received a $3 Catalina coupon, the type generated at checkout. I spent just 45 cents for five cans: 9 cents each!

Since they didn't expire for almost two years, I bought 30 cans, more than I'd use in three months. But I recognized that this great deal wasn't likely to repeat in three months. For a $2.70 investment, I have plenty of tomatoes on hand for a year or so.

Of course, if you find a deal on a product with no expiration date, such as paper towels or toilet paper, stock up on as much as you want to store.

Is the product's price slated to rise soon? It's worth watching the news and keeping track of commodity prices. When the cost of raw coffee beans skyrocketed, I bought more coffee than usual to avoid higher prices to come.

Similarly, when peanut butter prices started to climb, I stocked up more than normal. The expiration date on the jars was a year away. Instead of buying my usual three jars, 12 weeks' worth, I purchased 12 jars. I lined the purchase up to a coupon deal, so I paid an even lower price per jar.

How much storage space do you want to devote? Most people don't want to turn their home into a mini supermarket. No matter how great a deal is, if your grocery stockpile starts to creep into your living space, it may be time to limit what you bring home.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.