Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone;
But when she came there
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.
- Mother Goose
Today I’m concluding a series of posts I’ve done this month on how to get back into couponing. In case you missed the others, you can read them here:
- Getting your Couponing Yee-haw back (introduction)
- The New Coupon PoliciesAdd New
- The Drugstore Scene
- Last week’s Webcast on Getting back into Couponing
To tie this series out, I’d like to talk about a problem that might have cropped off while you were
in la-la land taking a much needed break from couponing: a bare pantry.
Maybe you’re feeling naked, or maybe you’re just feeling overwhelmed. However you’re feeling, get up off the floor of your pantry, dry your tears, and make yourself a cup of coffee. You built your stockpile once before, and you can do it again. Give yourself a little grace. It’ll be OK.
As for me, I’ve struggled with my stockpile by getting lazy at times. Let me give you a perfect example. Say two years ago I found a great sale on pasta sauce. So I’m not thinking about or buying pasta sauce for months and months and months….and then, bam! I’m down to my last jar and there’s nary a sale in sight. Obviously, the goal is to avoid such a scenario.
Whether you can relate to my example or you are facing a bare pantry for any other reason, let me give you some practical ideas for getting in the groove again.
Get your Game Plan
Several months ago, I wrote about creating stockpile inventory lists (read the posts HERE and HERE in case you missed them). Before you start clipping coupons or head to the store, I would start by doing exactly that: creating an inventory list. Here’s how:
- Clean out your fridge, cupboards, pantry, and any other storage space. Remove any old items and donate any unexpired items you don’t intend to use. This will give you an accurate idea of what you have to work with.
- Consider your family’s meals and most shopped for items. Begin to build an inventory list by jotting down the items you would like to have on hand in your pantry. For ideas on what I like to keep on hand, as well as FREE inventory list downloads just head back to those posts HERE and HERE. I’ve done a lot of the work for you.
- Focus on deals that meet your inventory list FIRST. It can be overwhelming when you’re in the trenches of Coupon Land – there are deals for so many things. Keep your focus on trying to build your stockpile! That’s great if store X has free gizmos on sale this week, but if store Y has a good deal on gadgets, and gadgets is on your inventory list – guess what? You should opt to shop at store Y this week.
- Determine sales cycles. It may be useful to spend a few minutes considering what may go on sale and when. This may help you determine how long it will take to get your stockpile the way you want it. You can download a FREE copy of my Store Sales Cycle.
Having an inventory list can help you sort out quickly which deals will help you best in rebuilding your stockpile. If there are other freebies or deals along the way? That’s fine: but take care that chasing them won’t sap your energy and leave you burned out all over again. Remember the goal here is to get back into couponing for the long-haul. Keeping things simple and your time involved to a minimum will help you achieve that.
If you’ve ever completed a big goal you might understand the importance of having “quick wins” along the way. We’ve been steadily working to pay off our debt (oh friends, we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel – but that’s another post!), and we started by following Dave Ramsey’s method of paying off the smallest debt FIRST. Doing so gives you a feeling of momentum that propels you forward to the next debt.
Building your stockpile is a big task, so I thought I’d come up with a few ideas of things you can do quickly that will give you some inspiration for the journey ahead:
- Clean up your spice pantry. I use my spices just about EVERY DAY in my cooking. They add flavor and inspire new dishes. Why not take an afternoon and completely overhaul your spices? Discard old ones, but save the bottles, or buy some empty bottles. Then, freshen them all up by buying fresh spices in bulk. You’ll pay mere pennies to do so! (Here’s an old post I wrote about how I did this myself and the cost involved.)
- Pick up a few bulk items. Since we’re talking bulk, why not go out and restock on flour, sugar, whole grains, baking soda, oatmeal and other similar items? These can be purchased in bulk at WinCo generally cheaper than even store generic brands. If you don’t have a WinCo, see if your local store has a bulk foods section. Freshen up these items in your pantry. (For more on bulk foods, check out my October 2011 series on Adventures in Bulk Foods.)
- Organize your space. While everything’s empty, why not scrub, shift, organize and cuten up the space that will soon fill all your couponing treasures? Maybe pick up some new storage bins from the Dollar Store or Fred Meyer. Maybe laminate your inventory list and hang it in the pantry next to some wet erase markers. Maybe make room for your coupon organizer or other similar items that will inspire you to stay in track with your efforts this time around.
Tackling even just one of these tasks may give you the little lift you need at this exact moment!
I hope this short series has inspired you to get back into couponing and given you some practical tips! I’d love to hear from you – did you get back into it? Thinking about it? Or maybe you’ve been on the fence and are just about to make that initial leap. What other questions do you have about getting back in the saddle again?