Once you begin to take meal and shopping planning seriously, you will see more money in your bank account at the end of the paycheck; you will find it easier to pay bills; you won't feel as stressed when you make a splurge purchase. It is very, very easy to suddenly realize that you have more money than you anticipated and go spend it immediately on something you "deserve". Instead, you need to make the most of this newfound "extra" money. I like to recommend that you set a firm budget for yourself, say $200 per paycheck for groceries. Then you meal plan and coupon and save as much as you can to come under that budget. When (not if) you do, take that cash and put it in a seperate fund - another bank account, an envelope, a prepaid debit card, whatever will keep you from confusing it with your general petty cash. This is now your stockpile cash. You can use this right away to begin stockpiling or you can save it up until you have enough to buy extra shelving, a deep freeze, a couponing printer, whatever you need. If you manage your money this way, you will be able to take care of what you need AND get the things you want without going in to debt for it.
On that note: never, ever, ever let someone tell you that you should use credit cards to finance your couponing habits - any habits, really. If you can't afford to invest $200 in a laser printer up front, that means that you most likely won't be able to pay that same $200 off your credit card before interest accrues. Saving ahead of time is a much better way, for both your wallet and your peace of mind. Consider this: most people have less than ideal credit scores, which makes the traditional credit card rates high. Store cards like Walmart, Bellks, Goody's, etc. may offer promotions, but tend to have APR's of 20-24.99%. As an example, Walmart has a credit card promotion, spend $200 or more, get 6 months interest free. If you pay off the balance before 6 months is up, you pay just shelf price. If you don't pay in 6 months, you owe all of the interest that was deferred in the promotional period, plus whatever it earns from now on. If you put a $200 printer on a credit card with a rate of 22% APR, and you make minimum $15 payments each month, it'll take you 15 months to pay that off, well beyond the promo period, AND you'll pay $24.80 in interest. If you want to pay off within 6 months, you'll have to pay just a little bit more per month, $33. That's all assuming you have just that on your card. What happens when you have multiple purchases on it? When you make a payment, that payment is spread across all of your purchases. Confused? Take a look at these examples.
Credit Card Starting Balance $0
Printer Purchase: $200
New Credit Card Balance: $200
Minimum payment due: $15
If you make only the minimum payment, you will have only paid $90 on the printer in 6 months. All interest deferred is now due.
In order to pay off just the printer is 6 months, you'll need to pay at least $33.33 each month.
Credit Card Starting Balance: $200
Printer Purchase, 6 month deferred interest promo: $200
New Credit Card Balance: $400
Monthly Payments: $34 for 6 months = $204, enough to pay off printer within 6 months
6 months of payments split between balances:
Prior Balance: $200 - $89 payments = $111 balance
Prior Balance Interest Charges: $22
Printer: $200 -$89 payments = $111 balance
Because you did not pay off the printer completely within 6 months, all deferred interest during the promo period is now due, plus any that accrues until it is paid off completely.
Now that you have a tidy bit of cash set aside, let's start stockpiling
Once you find the deal you want to stock up on, you want to match coupons to it. If I don't have either a store or manufacturer's coupon, I will pass. These deals roll around every 6-8 weeks (some even more often) and I'm not going to spend money I don't have to because I've jumped the gun this time. Then, just like I told you yesterday, check your rebate apps. On my best deals, I have stacked a sale with a manf. coupon, with a store coupon, with an Ibotta or other rebate, with a Register Rewards spitting out at the end. That is my gold standard when I stock up. I want to use as many of thse categories as I can.
Note: The Walgreens sale, the coupons, and rebates listed, while real at some point and in some areas, but may not be current or available in your area. I am including them for illustrative purposes only.