31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: The Buy Ahead Principle
Last night when I went grocery shopping, I bought 18 sticks of deodorant. Yes, I said 18!
Did I buy all this deodorant because I heard that there was going to be a shortage of deodorant for the next 4 years? Um, no.
I bought 18 sticks of deodorant because I had coupons which made them free or more-than-free.
Never Pay Retail
One of my biggest secrets for grocery saving success is that I practice the Buy Ahead Principle. Which means, basically, other than dairy products and produce, I aim to never pay full price for anything.
If you’re willing to be patient and observant, you can almost always buy most items at 50% off their retail price or more. Because I’ve been using coupons and bargain-shopping for over 10 years now, I aim to purchase most things when they are 75-100% off of the retail price.
I don’t just buy one of an item when it is at it’s rock-bottom price. Instead, I purchase as many items as I can afford in my grocery budget to tide me over until the next sale.
For many people who are used to buying only what groceries you’ll use in the next week, the concept of buying ahead can be mind-boggling. However, it makes complete sense if you stop and consider it.
Paying Retail vs. Buying Ahead
If your family uses 10 tubes of toothpaste in a year’s time and the retail price of toothpaste is $2.49, if you bought it at retail, you’d be paying $24.90 per year for toothpaste.
If, however, you practiced the Buy Ahead Principle, and you collected your $1/1 toothpaste coupons and waited until toothpaste went on sale for $1 (which it does a few times per year in our area), you could buy 10 tubes of toothpaste for free.
That’s a savings of $24.90 per year!
How to Build a Stockpile of Food and Toiletries
What if you were to practice the Buy Ahead principle on when buying the majority of your groceries? Think about how much you would save! From my best estimates, I would say we routinely save at least $30-$50 each week by practicing the Buy Ahead Principle.
Would you like to see significant savings by Buying Ahead as well? Here are some suggestions:
1) Designate a Small Portion of Your Grocery Budget to Building Your Stockpile
If this is a new concept for you, don’t go out and spend $500 tomorrow trying to build up a stockpile. Instead, designate a small percentage of your grocery budget each week to buying extra of those heavily-discounted items which you know you will use sometime in the next few months.
Even $5 or $10 a week devoted to stocking up on deeply-discounted items can go quite far. If you don’t find any really great deals one week, save your designated “Stockpile Money” for the next week.
2) Designate a Small Area of Your Home to Store Your Stockpile
The argument I often hear when I suggest people practice the Buy Ahead Principle is “But I don’t have any space to stock up.” Well, in very rare cases (say, if your family of 6 is living in a one-bedroom apartment!), I’d agree. But in most cases, there are plenty of creative nooks and crannies in your home you could use to store extra non-perishable food and household supplies.
Maybe you need to clear out some items you’re not using to make room. Or maybe you could install some extra shelving in a closet. Perhaps you could store things under the bed or in a few boxes in a closet. Get creative, think outside the box, and I’m guessing you’ll find someplace you can use!
When we were living in a one-bedroom apartment which only had one small closer, I used a little cabinet in the living room to store extra stuff. When we were living in a two-bedroom apartment, I used the cupboards over the washer and dryer to store extra stuff. I was amazed at how much I could fit in a small space when I set my mind to it!
3) Determine When Enough is Enough
I think it’s extremely cost-effective to Buy Ahead. However, I also think it’s just as important to know when enough is a enough. If you have mountains of unopened tubes of toothpaste falling down on top of you when you open up the bathroom cupboard, you probably don’t need to go out and buy 55 more tubes!
Yes, I bought 18 sticks of deodorant yesterday. That’s more than we’ll use in the next 2 years. But what I didn’t tell you earlier was that I’ll likely donate at least half–if not more–of those. I love being able to share from our surplus of items with those in need. Or just pass on a great deal to a friend, too!
My philosophy is that if there is plenty of an item on the shelf, I have a lot of coupons, the item is free, it’s something we’ll use, and it’s something I can easily donate if we have a surplus, I’ll buy as many as I have coupons for.Your philosophy might be different. So decide when enough is enough for you, and then stick to that.
Twice a year, I go through all of our stockpile of groceries and household items and pare down to the basics which will last me for 4-8 weeks. This way, we never have an over-abundance. In addition, taking the Eat From the Pantry challenge is a great way for us to make sure and use up some of our stockpile.
If you don’t apply any of the other 30 ways to cut your grocery budget that I’ll be sharing in this series, but you adopt the Buy Ahead Principle and stick with a grocery budget, I guarantee you will see a significant savings in your grocery bill. And you’ll likely be shopping less and eating better than ever before!
Other posts in the 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget series
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Menu Planning on a Budget (Part 1)
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Menu Planning on a Budget (Part 2)
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Shop With Cash
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: The Buy Ahead Principle
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Shop at More Than One Store (Part 1)
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Shop At More Than One Store (Part 2)
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Shop at More Than One Store (Part 3)
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Everyone Should Use Coupons
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: 10 Ways to Get Coupons for Free
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Should You Ever Pay For Coupons?
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Finding a Coupon Organizational System Which Works for You
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: How to Maximize Your Savings With Coupons
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Play the Drugstore Game
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: How To Get Started Playing the Drugstore Game
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Sign Up for Freebies
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Follow a Few Helpful Blogs
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Don't Waste
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Don't Be Brand Dependent
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Look for Markdowns
- 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Buy in Bulk
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