Welcome to Southern Savers, where finding deals and steals is simple and rewarding!

See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure here.

Why a stockpile is important for saving money.

Recently I shared a question on our Facebook page on how to build a stockpile when money is very tight.  One response caught me off guard. Their helpful tip was “Don’t stockpile”.  It made me realize that maybe we need to review a quick basic topic.

To save the most money on groceries we need to only buy what’s on sale.  That sounds super easy, but it’s really not.  If I go and make a list of what we are out of, I’ve just made a long list of everything that isn’t on sale.  To correctly shop, and only buy what’s on sale, I can’t shop based on need.  This means changing how you shop completely.

First, it’s important to know that in the south grocery cycles run on a 6 week cycle.  That means if peanut butter is on sale right now, it won’t be back on sale for another 6 weeks.  If you pair that handy tip with the concept of stockpiling you are going to save a ton!

To explain, if pasta sauce is on sale today for $1.50 and you have a coupon for $1 off you will get it for 50¢.  That’s a great price!  If you only buy one jar (like most folks who shop based on need) then in a week or so when you use that jar you’ll need more and pay over $3 for the same jar.  Instead of buying one, buy enough for 6 weeks when it’s on sale.  You can buy 4 jars, use coupons for each, and pay $2 now or… you can buy them one at a time and pay 50¢ now and another $9 for your 3 other jars.  I vote for the $2 now!

You want to do this with most of the common items that you use.  Always buying enough for 6 weeks.  Let me repeat that last part, enough for 6 weeks.  That’s it.  You don’t need 6 months or 6 years.  It will come on sale again.   This is where some folks think stockpiling isn’t for them.  I’m not telling you to never park in the garage again.  If you get to that point then honestly you’re hoarding (I know that upsets some of you, but it’s the truth).  All you need to do it buy enough of the products you use regularly to get you through until they are on sale again.  For most products this will be 2, maybe 3, tops.

How do you start?

Each week focus on the items on sale and buy enough for 6 weeks for anything you will use.  The lists on Southern Savers only list items that are on sale (I don’t type out the entire weekly ad as many items aren’t on sale at all).  So use the list, buy 6 weeks of anything you will use that is on the list.  For the first few weeks you have things you need.  Buy one week worth of what you have to get.  Each week the “need” section will get smaller and smaller as you stock up on more items.  After 6 weeks your pantry will be the grocery store, and you’ll be really seeing just how huge the savings are when you truly only buy what’s on sale!

    • Ang0581

      Didn’t know about the 6 week cycle! That really helped understand the “goal”. Having just started really couponing, I’ve been asking myself “where do I stop?”… though pretty sure I been over the 6 week mark with deodorant… probably closer to a year, but I got it free! Lol thanks for the tips!

      • crystalgoodwin3

        If it’s something you use and it’s free and won’t expire, then I think it’s okay to buy all you can. But I would never buy so much that I had to put things under my kids beds or in their closets. If you’re doing this, then you need to donate.

        • Robin

          For those of you donating. Do you claim it at the end of the year and if so, do you keep all your shopping receipts?


          • Chris

            I wish I was that organized, but personally I don’t. I would have WAY too many receipts, as my shopping strategy involves lots of semi-daily small purchases at close-by stores. I’m just happy enough that it goes to a place in need.

            • Amanda

              I agree! I have been a recipient of toys for tots,and food banks in the past. When giving to needy persons individualy or donation facility acceptance sites,if it is truly a heart felt donation, who really needs a reciept? I teach my kids that if you expect something back for your gift or donation, it wasn’t really a gift or donation in the first place. I truly blieve what comes around,goes around.

    • gabrielamoralesperez

      My question is that if it is something you always use, like your dogs favorite dogfood, or lactose free milk, and one week it is almost free, because of the available combinations of coupons, that you have never seen this particular combination and the item this cheap in 2 years of couponing, isn’t smart to buy as many possible, more than 6 weeks worth? Even if it takes up a lot of space? I don’t think that is hoarding IF you always use the item. Sometimes I overdo it because something is indeed free that we use, so I try to get a lot of them. It’s true things are on sale every 6 weeks but unless it’s a GM product, there are not always matching coupons.

      • Chris

        yes, gabriel, you beat me to it. If I can get something for FREE or at least cheaper now than I can during the normal 6-week sale, AND I have the storage room, AND the product won’t go bad, then I’ll buy as much as I can. And if over time I discover that I don’t need or use that much after all, I’ll donate it. (I do this all the time.) – For example, a few months ago I bought what was basically a lifetime supply of toothbrushes. They take up very little room, will never expire, and were free – which usually never happens. I even donated a third of my bounty to food bank (which also takes toiletries.)

      • Tammie

        Depending on how much you are going to buy, speak to customer service/manager about ordering it, as a previous poster said. I use Aunt Jemima pancake mix, whole wheat and buttermilk to make large batches of pancakes and freeze them. I know (from buying it enough) that it rarely goes on sale for BOGO. Off the top of my head I would say no more than 3 x a year, if that. I will buy more of that, since I know we use it, and it rarely goes on BOGO.

    • courtney spiers

      I am confused on the 6 week cycle.. I feel stupid but how do I know what the cycle is or how do I “learn” the cycle to know when to buy enough for a 6 week amount? HELP ME!! lol :)

      • Danni

        Your not alone I’m in the same boat I really don’t understand…..

      • Brittanu

        If you look at the ads on here every week everytime there is a really good deal she will put an acorn symbol beside the product listed to let you know that it’s a really good deal and that should get you started on seeing when things are on sale

      • gabrielamoralesperez

        Some people keep track of when something goes on sale. They use a spreadsheet. You can then see the pattern for that item. For example Quaker oatmeal is on sale a lot. If I tracked this I could see that it is every 4 weeks on sale at publx. Thomas bagels maybe go on sale EVERY 6 weeks. Maybe Pace salsa goes on sale every 10 weeks. There is a standard pattern for each item (some stuff never goes on sale). If you track it for about 3 months, you should be able to see the pattern. GM products tend to go on sale constantly.

    • Sojourn

      My Publix in FL doesn’t always have a lot in stock on their sale items, AND how can you get so many coupons for a certain thing when only 2 will print from the computer? Publix limits you from more than 10 of any bogo items, and they get upset with couponers “clearing the shelves”….
      I guess what I am trying to figure out is what is ethically right in buying enough for 6 weeks. For example, my large family eats about 3 boxes of cereal a week so if the certain brand we buy goes on sale, we would need 18 for the 6-week cycle. Is it right to store-hop to buy these, or go on different days?
      I have personally spoken with my store manager about another issue with Winn Dixie coupons and he has made it clear that he is anti-couponing when it’s clearing shelves, etc.
      Any thoughts? Thanks!!

      • gabrielamoralesperez

        For almost free things we use, that don’t spoil, I store hop- I never would fill my cart up of more than 6-8 of one thing or buy too many at once. I will buy a reasonable amount and then go back the next day or later on to another store. Some weeks I make 4-5 trips to publix- only buying an amount that is not embarrassing and not too much for the cashier- and this way I am not clearing the shelves either. It is a lot of work but it’s worth it to me. I have 2 computers but I get friends to print me more. I also buy coupons on ebay and we have a free paper that also has coupons in it.

      • Chris

        A lot of my stockpiling comes from Kroger megaevents, which usually last two weeks. I live by a few Krogers, so it’s no big deal for me to make several smaller trips during that time. I get my coupons from a variety of sources – mostly printable on three computers at home (save those crummy old laptops!), but also from friends and family who save their newspaper coupons for me.

      • Barbara

        The Publix stores in my area will let you order the quantity you want of a sale item. As soon as you know what will be on sale that you want/need, go to the service desk and tell them how many you’d like, and when they come in you pay for them at the service desk. I did that once with Smart Balance milk and got almost a whole flat of milk for free and I didn’t take any off the shelf. I was able to share with my church and friends, and put enough in the freezer to last a long while. Can’t hurt to ask!

        • pjaugustine

          Yes, most stores will let you order items. I know a friend of mine does this with specific cereal sales at our Kroger. I think the manager likes this. She says he is always very nice to her and goes out of his way to make sure she gets what she needs.

      • Jennifer H.

        Yes you certainly have to take family size into consideration. I try not to make judgements about the quantities in other shoppers carts, as I don’t know if they are shelf clearing or have a large family like yours.

      • Donna

        Raincheck as long as the coupons are good for a while.

    • mrs b

      We don’t have a lot of storage space in our one bedroom condo right now (building a house with a proper pantry and laundry room–cannot wait!), but some things are worth finding space for–pasta, sauce, k cups, diapers, wipes, detergent, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shave gel, razors and toilet paper have all made the “I won’t pay full price” list
      Right now I’m trying to keep myself in check so we don’t have to move as much stuff to the new place (in the same city, so it will all be moved in our vehicles)…but that will mean starting from scratch.

      I can’t wait to have a real, usable stockpile at that point.

    • sue

      This is not the right place to ask this but I don’t know where else. Jenny, had written about a website where one could sell or buy gift cards for a discount. Can someone please provide the site address. Thanks

      • Susan

        I think it is RAISE. Beware, though, I have just had a gift card number stolen and the balance was used up from buying one off of a resale site.

        • Sue

          Thanks for the warning

      • shauna

        I have been using cardpool . com for several months. I was able to get gift cards for school teachers and bus drivers around christmas. My favorite card to buy is the CVS one. I shop there weekly and its so cool to get that extra 10% off after all my sales, coupons and ECB. I also love to get cards for our favorite restaurants. Then of course we wait till we have a coupon we can use then go!

        • sue

          thank you

          • Kay

            I second that on cardpool. I’ve been using them for years and never had a problem, but just be aware that the % of discount does go up and down, so it pays to track a while.

    • Shellaine

      Haha! Jenny, I saw that comment on Facebook, too. I knew you’d have to address it. It’s a hard concept for a lot of people to understand (like my husband), but once he understood that I was just buying it ahead of time and wouldn’t have to buy it again for a while, he got on board.

      • Amie

        I agree. I have a family member who is tight financially and they regularly run low on groceries before pay day. I have tried to explain the concept, but the response is often that it would be great if they had the extra money to stock up, but they need to buy what they need. Well, they have been in that cycle for years now. I am just happy that my husband gets it.

        • mom

          my inlaws are the same, I think they don believe me when i told them how much i save… oh well i’m so proud of myself for saving a lot of money.

    • Amie

      When I first started couponing, I did hoard some – not to the extreme couponing level, but my guest room quickly filled with free pasta, beverages, etc. Now, I have 2 stockpile shelves. One for food and one for diapers, wipes, and training pants. I keep my HAB items & paper products in the master closet. That is plenty. There aren’t as many freebies as there used to be, but if there’s a great deal, I will buy more than a 6 week supply. I am not one to clear shelves to donate. I still want to leave items for other shoppers.

    • 3isenuf

      I agree that a lot of things do go in cycles, but what about seasonal things? How do you take those into consideration, Jenny? For example, I can buy BBQ sauce in May or June for way cheaper than any other time of the year. There are plenty of things like that and I find myself stocking way up on stuff at those times and not just doing the 6 week thing.

      • Jennifer H.

        Yes I do the same thing. For instance, flour, sugar, butter, turkeys and hams are cheapest during the holiday season. I always buy more than six weeks worth of flour and sugar and try to get as many turkeys and hams as my freezer will hold.

    • traci0322

      I think that couponing has also broadened our meal plan. I do stock up on some basic pantry staples (rice, pasta, soy sauce, olive oil, spices) for 4-6 wks when they are at a super low price, but I also challenge myself to find uses for sale items weekly, and our go-to recipes have jumped from 15 to 40. The variety is nice, and it has meant that we sometimes eat lower carb, or meatless more often. I also have found that if you do want to stock up on perishable items, just make a meal and freeze it!! We did this in the fall and just finished the last of 20 HOMEMADE frozen entrees. They were healthy and easy, and I worked like crazy for 2 days putting them together, but then I got a break on many weeknights. :) It’s been fun.

    • Dawn

      This is exactly what I do. I make my list right from the Southern Savers Harris Teeter list. Then I get things like apples, milk, and bread which is usually not on sale, but are sometimes. We go right to our grocery store when we run out of peanut butter, ketchup, mustard….you name it!

    • Dawn

      This is exactly what I do. I make my list right from the Southern Savers Harris Teeter list. Then I get things like apples, milk, and bread which is usually not on sale, but are sometimes. We go right to our grocery store when we run out of peanut butter, ketchup, mustard….you name it!

    • MeMe

      I went overboard at first, as well. My entire third bedroom was filled with bins and bins of stuff. After a year, I’m just now to the point of needing toilet paper. (lol) So I buy enough for a few months. With another grandbaby on the way, I’m stocking up on diapers for the first time.

    • Teresa

      Love you, Jenny!!!

    • Allie in SC

      I LOVE all the comments on this topic. Great tips too. I am so glad there are couponers here that share ideas and encourage donating to shelters. You guys are great!

    • Susie

      My kids have always referred to my stockpile as momas “hoarding shelves”. It’s kind of funny now that my oldest lives in an off campus apartment with roommates now that he’s in college. After having the experience of going to the grocery store it seems he’s now very grateful for ” momas hoarding shelves” since he takes what he needs when visiting home. It’s not really as much as it sounds. I have 4 small shelving units. One has paper/ laundry/ cleaners, one has snacks/ juice/ drinks, one has staples, and the smallest one has hba. It’s been my goal for years to only buy things thet are on sale and couponed. Thanks southern savers for helping me attain that goal. I make shopping lists from this site every week.

    • Smash

      One area I would disagree about “not stockpiling” is for select non-perishables or items with a long expiration date. If I believe that an item is going to increase in price (or the package is going to shrink) based on past history (e.g. toilet paper), then I consider it a better investment to stockpile than leave that money in the bank earning .01% interest.

    • Smash

      One area I would disagree about “not stockpiling” is for select non-perishables or items with a long expiration date. If I believe that an item is going to increase in price (or the package is going to shrink) based on past history (e.g. toilet paper), then I consider it a better investment to stockpile than leave that money in the bank earning .01% interest.

    • idohair32583

      I do stockpile quite a bit. Mostly non-perishable items, like soap, toothpaste and paper goods. If the price is really good, say like on pasta sauce, I will buy as much as I can and I make sure we use it before it expires. Needless to say, sometimes my family gets tired of the “what can mom make with pasta sauce” nights, but it worth it. We live paycheck to paycheck and without stockpiling we would have a very tough time of it. I try not to clear the shelves. My oldest child just went into the military and I send care packages with snacks, soap, deoderant, toothpaste etc. If I got items on a great deal I usually send enough for the other guys in his barracks, so they can save their money. If you have alot of stockpile items, please think about sending them to our men and women overseas.

    • Amy

      My husband was without a job for 9 mths last year and I was a stay-at-home mom. I followed your site long before that and had an awesome stockpile (almost hoarding). But we didn’t have to worry about a lot of staples and toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc. I’m so thankful I found your website. Your website was a God send and I didn’t know it until we were struggling. I really need to get back in the habit of couponing. That stockpile of food is about gone.

      • Mary K

        I had a bid surgery and couldn’t go shopping for a few months. It was so nice to go downstairs and get a tube of toothpaste or some deodorant. I just sent my husband to the store and buy meat and fresh fruit that was on sale that week. I was still able to save money by planning meals by what was on sale that week.

    • iluvthesouth

      I agree with your definition of stockpiling….only 6 weeks worth. I love the idea of getting lots of items free through couponing….but if i’m buying things i cant use….how does that benefit my family. Just my opinion…but it seems to be an obsession with the extreme couponers…..just to have full shelves of anything….just so they can say it was free. Feeding my family is all about the bottom line….what came out of my pocket for that week. I’m on a crusade to be debt free in 3 yrs, mortgage included…..therefore couponing for food is a must.

    • Tammy Parks

      I am rarely new to couponing, but I would like to know how do coupon the right way and so I can stockpile for my household, because my husband and I are on a fixed income and he does do some work on the side but I would like to learn how to do this on a fixed incomes, because I cannot go out and get a full time job. I would like to join a couponing club that does this every week or month, however it works, either way I want to learn how this works so I can do this right and save my family money and buy the things we need and use every day.

    • AsianCupcake85

      I love couponing! Friday we went to Wal-Mart to do the “Competitor Price Match” on some Publix BOGO items. We bought 8 jars of Bertolli pasta sauce (BOGO + $1.50/2 coupon = $.25/jar). 6pkgs of Muellers pasta (BOGO + $.75/2 coupon = $.22 overage per box). Next, 2 Speed Stick deoderants (BOGO + $1/1 coupon = $.02 overage), 4 3pk Orbit chewing gum (BOGO + $.75/2 coupon = $.21 per pk). Lastly, 2 24oz Ken’s dressings (squeeze bottles) (BOGO + $1/1 coupon = $.93 bottle). Paid $6.07 for all that! :)

    • lisa smith

      Sadly, I now find that the great deals don’t come around for me every 6 weeks. Also , prices have risen higher and higher. Even buying sales items and coupons, I am paying more than ever for my deals. I now will be forced to search each ad and stock up at that time. I imagine I will buy 6 months to a years worth at one time. This is not really an extreme measure for me as I have a reasonable idea of what we actually use in a years time. I no longer am an extreme couponer. My shelves are not packed. I no longer have more than we use and no longer buy free stuff we wont use .Money is once again limited so I must maximize my skills.

    • Ashley Shead Taylor

      So how many newspapers do you buy in order to get coupons? I get one newspaper which half the time doesn’t have the needed coupon and then I print the available ones but there is up to a two coupon print limit on what I’ve seen. This makes it hard for me to buy more than 1-2 of the on sale product.

      • Caitlyn Lord Yasika

        Most couponers suggest you get 1 paper per person in your household plus 1. So, for a family of 4, you would get 5 papers. You will have to stockpile the coupons as well to match them with the sales cycles.