Mondays With Mavis… {a word about stockpiling}

I think one of the hardest concepts to grasp when you’re just starting out on your couponing  journey… is that it does get easier.  That you will get better at it and you will save money.  Just like any new hobby… it’s going to take time…  You simply cannot expect to go from a $600 a month grocery budget to $300 a month overnight.  Cutting back takes time… I’d say 3-6 months is more realistic.  Once you get a few good deals under your belt… you’ll start to understand how the whole process works… And you’ll start to see the power of a coupon and how and when to use it.  Remember the Kenny Rogers song The Gambler… “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em…  know when to fold ’em… know when to walk away… and know when to run.” 🙂

I’ll be the first to admit I went a little crazy at first… What??? Pasta??? .50 cents a box??  Holy Cow are you serious??? Cereal $2.00 a box… wooo hooo… let’s buy 10 boxes 🙂  Silly me… When I first started clipping I had no idea what  was to come… Now I know if I’m paitent… and wait for a sale… I can get Pasta for free... and cereal… Well… I can usually get that for free as well… or at the very most… pay .50 cents  a box.

Another skill you’ll learn over time is building up your stockpile.

And no… I’m not talking about a 40 year supply of toilet paper here or 67 bottles of mustard… trust me… you don’t have to have a 3 year supply of toothpaste hidden underneath your child’s bed or take up every inch of your garage with totes of cookie mix…  There will always be another sale…  or another deal with stock up prices.

To a new couponer… it’s hard to imagine you’d be able to prepare fulfilling meals or entertain on such a small budget…

Baking things like quiches filled with bacon, spinach and feta cheese…

Purchasing so called “expensive” ingredients seem unlikely…

Entertaining or even hosting family or a few friends over for Sunday brunch

Doesn’t even seem possible…

But I’m here to tell you it’s true…

That for me…  feeding my family of 4 on only $100 a month… is very possible… and not only its it possible… it’s fun.

The key to it all…

Is your stockpile.

This week I was able to add 2 very important things to my stockpile…

Taco Seasoning (We eat taco’s about once a week)


Seeds for the garden…

Everything else I purchased falls under the “maintenance mode” category…

How does one get to “maintenance mode”

Well… when you see a super awesome deal on something like… free taco seasoning, or spices, or pasta… you stock up 🙂  It’s really that simple.

Here’s what I purchased this week…

I found some sort of Healthy Food booklet at QFC that had a few yogurt and organics coupons inside (near the health food section) Anyway… inside were $1.00 off ANY Voskos yogurt coupons… I stuck them in my binder… and happened to walk right by the fancy yogurt section at Safeway when I was picking up my .50 cent bags of Spinach (after coupon) last week.  The yogurt was marked down to .99 cents a tub.  I had 5 $1 off coupons… and scored FREE yogurt!

Safeway $1.45

I picked up (2) .99 cent pineapples at Safeway on Thursday for a grand total of $1.98


I heard Walmart had Mc Cormick Taco seasoning for .52 cents a packet… and because I had 57 … Yes… 57 Mc Cormick coupons I called my peep at Walmart and asked him to order me 2 boxes of taco seasoning… and he did 🙂  I was also able to use my $2.00 off  Heinz & Figro cheese coupons to help in the overage department.    So this week I picked up 57 packets of taco seasoning, 3 dozen bagels, 4 ketchup, 5lbs of potatoes, 3 lbs apples, 3 cheese sticks, chocolate dipping chocolate, broccoli and 1 avocado for…

A whopping $1.89…

2 bags of Easter Candy $1.38

Safeway $4.99

You can read about this deal HERE

I used up the remaining balance on my Panera gift card and only had to pay $1.18 for a loaf of yummy french bread.

Rite Aid… .04 cents

You can read about this deal HERE

Total Spent This Week $12.91

Total Spent Year To Date $381.40

Every Penny Counts!

The Fabulessly Frugal Coupon Class is on DVD

It will help you get past that learning curve a little more quickly!

GO HERE and use coupon code FABFRUG to save 50%

(you’ll get it for 17 bucks plus shipping).


  • Lena

    I like your comment about “know when to hold them”. I agree. It seems it’s almost a gamble (I hate to use that word though). You need to decide what is the best time to use this “free money”. Is .75 a good deal for you (the holder) for a big bottle of shampoo or do you wait and hope for the better deal? Maybe a better term is a Game of Patience.

    One thing (from the many things I gleened) from the couponing class w/ Cathy and Monica I remember Cathy said – You can’t get every deal and don’t make yourself crazy to try and do so.

    Thanks again Mavis and All you FruGALS!

  • Becky FabFruGal

    Wow!!! That’s fantastic!!!

  • Katie

    One thing that I love about my new couponing addiction (my hubby is all into it too) is that even as picky as I am about certain brands and the fact that there are only 3 of us in the house, I have still saved money. In the past month – just started – we’ve saved almost $200! That’s not too shabby 🙂
    Thank you, Mavis for all of your help!

  • Marissa

    I am still digesting the fact that Mavis isn’t a retired grandmother. I would read her posts and just assume…………I’m so embarressed! Mavis , you rock it sister!
    PS. Do you have chickens? Is that how you save so much as well? My silly HOA won’t let me have chickens, so bummed.

  • Donaca

    Totally amazed by your Walmart purchase…How long have you been couponing for? – I really appreciate the encouragement that this couponing thing has a learnig curve. : )

  • Sarah

    Can I just tell you how much I needed this right now! An hour ago I called my hubby at work and said “I don’t know if i can do this, how do these moms do it”….. I have only been trying for 13 days and it’s nice to know that it really does take time 🙂
    Thank you!!

  • Jaime

    Ok, I have been couponing since October, my stockpile is growing, and I am finally done with some things to free me up so I can really get more into this. I have been on an emotional roller coaster with couponing. One week it is all great, the nest week, the shelves are empty and I try to order from the grocery manager and the warehouse is out too. But, all in all, my stock pile is growing and I am getting pickier about the prices I pay. I am in Meridian, ID and I noticed you said 57 coupons of the seasoning. You recently posted that you search through the recycled newspapers, did your 57 from going through the recycle bin at your local site? How did you do that, do you just call them up and say you are a couponer? Couponing, even though it definitely takes time, is worth it to stay home with my son and save money. He is only 2 /1/2 and I am teaching him to look for the little blinking lights and he gets a thrill of pulling them out just as much as I do! Thank you for sharing and your encouragement!

    • Jessica

      I’d like to know that too, where do you get all your coupons?!? I love the couponing game, thank you Mavis for the inspiration!

      • Sarah

        Same here… Where do you get them all?

        • kimberly

          you can buy them on e-bay and other sites. when you see a good coupon and want a lot of that item this is the way to go. I do this often and it’s worth it. The ladies on the site will link of ebay coupons with good deals. but you have to act fast when they post. Becasue prices go up with the demand.

    • mavis

      I don’t buy newspapers. All my coupons come from the trash/recycle bin. I simply glean what others throw away. I also have a few neighbors who leave their coupon inserts on their front porch for me every week and I simply walk over and pick them up.

  • Rachel

    I have a question for Mavis, or anyone else who has discovered any good secrets as well. How do you keep the bill down for your internet service? I am always looking for ways to keep costs down in all departments!

  • Becky

    I just wanted to say thank you to Mavis. I really appreciate & look forward to your posts. What you are able to to amazes me & encourages me immensely.

  • Tracy

    I think once your stockpile gets big enough, you tend to hold onto your coupons longer. Since there isn’t the fear of running out of something and having to pay full price (Oh No!!). It makes waiting for the best sales easier.
    Mavis, you are lucky that your Safeway takes more than two like coupons. My Vons (a Safeway owned store) only accepts two like coupons, even the manufacturer ones. 🙁

    • elisabeth

      Tracy, another poster already mentioned that you should try to take advantage of multiple transactions to get to use all of your coupons. I am thinking that if enough couponers do this then they will realize that they pay an hourly salary for the cashier and debit card fees for each transaction and will therefore save money by not having to pay the cashier to stand there with you for 30 minutes doing multiple transactions. lol. I always try to be polite but firm and get what we are entitled to!

  • Liz

    Woo Hoo! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Carmen French

    To Tracy: Will your Vons take multiple purchases? So if you had 57 taco seasoning packets, break it up into 25 separate transactions? I know that is a little more time consuming, but it takes care of the 2 like coupons (per transaction) limit, if that is how they word their policy. Maybe if enough couponers did it that way they would see it doesn’t cost them anything to take multiples, and it would probably save them time too.

    Just a suggestion to try out with the manager there…

    And Mavis, thanks for telling us how you get your coupons. I have wondered myself. So, do you go into the recycling bins? hmmm, not sure I am ready for that yet.

    • Tracy

      They will do multiple transactions, but it is time consuming for me as well. Also since I shop there at least once a week, I don’t want to be known as THAT woman. I will do two transactions at a time, but that’s usually my limit. The store is on the way to my children’s school, so if I have time I will stop at a later date to buy more. Thanks for the suggestions. So far I haven’t encountered the limit at Ralph’s or Albertson’s. Maybe I should switch stores!

  • Leah

    My husband has been asking me to measure output (for coupons) vs. income from purchases and so far I haven’t been able to prove what I earn. Its been a two and a half month whirlwind since I began coupon crack and I was considering quitting. I’ve filled up my pantry nicely, but I’m still chasing all the deals. When Safeway has a save $10/50 do you take advantage of that?

    • dropofrain

      what do you mean by “income from purchases” and “what I earn”? Are you re-selling the items you got for free? just curious. I am keeping track of all my purchases comparing shelf cost vs savings from store discounts and coupons (found a free cost tracker on the internet). I am amazed myself – Adds up pretty nicely.

      • Leah

        By income I meant cost savings. Not selling anything, but also unable to track actual savings because to coupon I’ve been buying a lot of items I wouldn’t normally buy. I’ve started making a month long menu based on what is in my pantry and fridge and then adding items as they come on sale, so I feel a bit less manic this week than last.

        • dropofrain

          I too started buying more new products that I would not normally buy before couponing. But what I learned, with the store sales and MQ a lot of brand name items are cheaper than store brands or even free. So now we are enjoying a variety of new products for less money. Last month I started using a free downloadable Savings Tracker, and it helps to visualize how much I am saving by couponing. It is avalable from this blog: I am sure that you hubby will become a beliver when he sees “$$$ numbers” 🙂

  • Patti

    Awesome, just awesome. And it does get easier, but we still need inspiration and you provide itMavis!

  • Amy B

    When I saw the quiche at the beginning of the post I was reminded of one dinner we often have that is totally coupon friendly and my family loves it – Hashbrown Quiche by Paula Dean ya you might want to cut the butter by half 🙂 but other than that it is so easy. Not sure if you want the link on here but just google Paula Dean Hashbrown Quiche. Fancy and coupon friendly 🙂

  • Jennifer

    As many of the other ladies have commented, I appreciate this post. We’re about two weeks into *serious* couponing (I’ve always used coupons, just never strategically) and I’m fighting the urge to buy everything I see.

    Last week was very stressful – too stressful – and I did it to myself. I was so worried about missing out on something (and learning the policies of the different stores) that I was a mean mom and wife! I was quite glad to see there were NO inserts in Sunday’s paper. It forced me to chill out a bit!

    Thanks again for your post and for the site. I appreciate you!

    • Tracy

      I think it is best to just try 2 stores at first. Pick one drug store (Rite Aid, Walgreens, or CVS)a nd one grocery store. You can get a nice stockpile going in no time and you don’t drive yourself crazy. Later on you can check the weekly ads and decide where you want to go. I usually go to the drug store and grocery store with the best deals that week and skip the others. I also hit Target often (I love their clearance racks!)

  • mel

    Mavis- I could not love you more 🙂

  • myssssss

    You glean coupons? here no one throws them away, they don’t talk to neighbors and don’t take the newspaper with almost 17% unemployment most people are working like the dickens just to find a job and get their unemployment live in a very populated area and you go to many many stores, good luck with that at over $4.00 a gallon of gasoline the Walmarts here treat their female and male employees like living crap!!!!! cops go to those markets all the time, who would want to shop there? you must go through dumpsters? dangerous and they will call the cops here, your column borders on hoarding and the way you make it seem you are superior to others? do you help out at food pantries, help out at the places people are homeless??????????????????????????????????????? Give of your time and many food items you stockpile to those with no food? I thoght not!!!!hmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jennifer

      Myssssss…. your knees must hurt from jumping to so many conclusions!

    • katie

      Everyone has different situations but it is frustrating to me that people get so upset with people who are trying to do well for their family by couponing. Two years ago when my husband went to part time I didn’t know how we would be able to make it. (We are a family of six) The only place to cut was groceries/toiletries. A friend told me how she couponed to save hundreds each month and I decided I had to give it a try! I had a hard time taking the leap to buy a paper subscription because our income had just been cut in half! But I am SO glad I did because I save hundreds of dollars from those newspapers! I have suggested to some of my friends who are struggling to try out couponing and they feel they don’t have time, money for newspapers, or they just don’t want to. That is their choice but I have a hard time with the attitude that everyone that coupons is a hoarder. Mavis is NOT a hoarder….she is wise and purchases what she knows her family can use before it expires which is what most couponers do. Of course their are a few who go too far but that is how it is with every thing in life and our society. People need to be self sufficient and do their best to take care of their own family. I understand that their are those who TRUELY need help and I believe they should recieve help. But their are way too many people that are unwilling to put in the effort it takes to coupon when that could improve their situation dramatically (I know this because couponing has really improved my situation!) Changing attitudes would go along ways to change situations. It’s one thing to have an opinion, and another to be narrow minded and to judge others and be unkind. Mavis is showing us how to provide for our families on an unheard of amount each month….take the time to appreciate that and realize that while not all of us are able to do that…(yet 🙂 it is inspiring and can teach us so much.

    • Happy Couponer

      Obviously myssss doesn’t comprehend everything that is said on this board. She repeats herself CONSTANTLY!!
      I’ll jump to a conclusion here and say she seems to have a very sad and bitter life.

      LOVE YOU MAVIS!!! 🙂

    • Christine

      Because she coupons she’s obligated to help food pantries and homeless people? What about all the people who go to the store and pay full price? Do they not have an obligation? What about the homeless and people taking from the food pantry? Do they not have an obligation to help themselves? Nobody in this country is helpless. Even with the economy the way it is, there are opportunities all around. Look for them. I’m sick of people with attitude of entitlement like yours. With all the time you have to come here and pick on Mavis, why aren’t you down at the food pantry, homeless shelter, standing in line for a job, etc?? I don’t know where you live, but you sure make it sound like a third world country. Not sure how you afford internet if you’re having to scratch in the streets for food.

    • myssssss,
      I guess you don’t quite understand. First of all, I do go to a lot of stores. Albertsons, Winco, Walgreens, Walmart and Rite-Aid. Funny thing is, they range in the same area within a mile. Most of the time, you will have Walgreens, Rite-Aid and Albies in one intersection corner. So, I could pay over $5.00 for a gallon of gas but, I wouldn’t use the entire gallon for one shopping trip. If I did, I still would save over 75% on my grocery bill with the help of this web site and all the fun people who inspire me to coupon more, NOT hoard.
      As for how Walmart treats their employees, well, that is another story and does not pertain to me. As for cops shopping,…….. hummm, what’s wrong with cops? They eat too and read up on fabulously frugal and write responses to help others find a great deal as well. We/cops love to shop and are human to.
      I have not helped out any pantries myself however, I have helped my outside family who have been down on their luck. I also had a coupon party at my house trying to help others learn how to save money through couponing.
      If your so upset with couponers and what it’s all about then don’t stress yourself out and say outlandish things to nice people who are just helping others… Geesh… take a hot bath and relax or something would ya?

      • Leah


        After reading your post I realized that we could be neighbors except I also live close to a Target and Fred Meyer. Since we live so close to all those stores, I take the time to walk when the weather permits. Thanks for your post. Ditto to all you said. Like Carlos Mencia said “If you don’t like where you live MOVE, your house has wheels!”

  • lacey

    Mavis I am addicted to your post now…..I always learn something new. Btw I love you dishes Did you get them some awesome deal on them too ….

  • Susan

    I went to QFC this morning but forgot to look for the booklet near Health Food items 🙁

    They have their Easter candy all 1/2 price except for 11.4 oz. bags of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs.. They are $1.05 (save $2.09 each!) A whole display of these (cardboard – full) I only got 2.

    All of their $30 filled baskets are $5.99. 2 carts in the front of the store.

  • Donaca

    I’ve been couponing for a little over a year, but haven’t tackled Wal-mart. Do you have a post about couponing there? I’m wondering how many transactions you did with the Taco seasonings? and how much time that took you? —- I’m trying to determine if wal-mart is worth it to me to coupon there?

    • Mavis

      I was able to buy all the taco seasonings and everything you see in the above Walmart photo in 1 transaction. When I shop (any store) I typically go in with a list and I’m in and out in a few minutes unless of course it’s double coupon Sunday @ Albertsons… that takes longer. I haven’t been a Walmart shopper in the past… but now that they accept overage… I’ll shop there if I can make it worth my time 🙂

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