(Just a note: That is not my stockpile in this picture above. I saw this at a flea market and took the picture. It's kinda crazy but proves the point well.)
Yesterday, I wrote an article called '10 Negative Results of Extreme Couponing.' This led to several of you writing in asking about the rights and wrongs of stockpiling. How much is too much and how do we stockpile effectively? I'll answer those today and give you a few tips for keeping a well organized and 'normal' stockpile.
Q: How much is too much?
A: I think this is a personal decision. The reason why I say that is because we all have different size families, some of us have 2 kids, some have 6 and some have no kiddos at all. It also depends on how much your family consumes. I think where you cross the line is when you are stockpiling things that will never be used, will expire before use or are just flat out absurd. In my opinion, stockpiling massive amounts of baby formula for a baby that is not even here may not be a good idea. What if the baby can't use that formula? What if there are other issues or the mom decides to breastfeed?
Of course, you could donate the formula, but what if it has expired by that point? See what I mean? Everyone has very different opinions on the issue. I recently read a book talking about how everyone should keep longer stockpiles, possibly 1-2 years because of all the things going on the world today. That to me, is an entirely different issue all together and has nothing to do with couponing. However, if you are a normal couponer and are talking about using coupons to get great deals and stockpiling for your family, sales come around every 6-8 weeks. So, technically, you don't need to stock up past 8 weeks.
Q: What are some tips for stockpiling effectively?
A: Great question! Here are a few tips to help you organize and effectively store a 'normal' couponing stockpile:
The Principal: Sales come around ever 6-8 weeks. The point of a stockpile is that when you get a great deal (combine a sale with coupon for example), you then stock up on that item until it goes on sale again so you don't have to come back the following week and pay full price.
Keep a piece of paper in your binder or on the door of your pantry with a list of the staples in your stockpile and how many are left. This is an easy way to see if you are getting low on things like pasta sauce or other items. When you start getting low, you can start watching closely for more sales and coupons.
Keep the items that will expire first towards the front so you use those first and make sure you 'stop' the stockpile at a certain point. If you have 15 jars of pasta sauce then it is time to cook some pasta.
Organization is key or your items will get lost in the pantry. Also, keeping it neat and clean will ensure that little critters don't come calling.
You will notice there are common items in a couponers stockpile those things might include pasta, pasta sauce, cereal, soups, condiments, etc. That is because those are the items that are free or nearly free after coupons on a regular basis. When you begin to stockpile items (within reason) that are free, you will also be freeing up money to use on other items like meat, produce or things that cannot be stockpiled.
Good stockpiles will save you mega money, just remember you don't have to go crazy. Really, 6-8 weeks is a good amount of time for a healthy coupon stockpile. If you're hiding cereal under your bed or in the bathtub, you've gone too far.
You can do the same thing with personal care items as well, which are much easier to stockpile because they take up less space and do not expire as quickly. It is amazingly easy to get great deals on shampoo, deodorant, body wash, feminine products, make-up, etc. I have a mini-pantry in my bathroom for these items specifically and handle it in the same way that I do my grocery stockpile. I keep an inventory and know when I'm running out.
Also, every few months I go through the bathroom stockpile and donate about 50% of it or more. This cleans it out and I start again, saving on these items is just too easy which makes giving them away easy too!
See, it is possible to have a healthy stockpile and provide for your family without being an Extreme Crazy.
To find out how to knock your socks off with savings, be sure to check out Couponing 101.