Stockpiling Within Reason | How to Start

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by on August 13, 2009


Stockpiling Within Reason | When is it Extreme?

With seeming unbeatable deals popping up online day after day, it’s tempting to try to take advantage of all of them. To avoid the hoarding mentality, I find it important to set limits on how much of any one item I can stockpile. These limits should be based on what you and your household actually use.

How to Start Stockpiling without being to Extreme?

Start out by taking a mental inventory of all the items you use on a daily or weekly basis. If you were not couponing and instead were buying only the items you were in immediate need of each week, what would be on your shopping list over the course of the next few months? These are the items you’ll want to stockpile. There’s no sense in buying two (or more) of something if you don’t even need or want one or never expect to use up one.

For this system to work, you need to figure out how much of each item on that list you use. If you use up more than one a month you probably know it. If you’re not sure how much you use a month you can start out by estimating that you use one a month, stock up for the appropriate number of months and then don’t stock anymore until you use some up or stock up even more if you discover you’re using it more quickly than expected.

Food (up to 3 months)

I aim to have at least one, but not more than three months worth of food items on hand. You may need to reevaluate what you consider to be a non-perishable: canned beans or vegetables may truly last longer than three months but I’ve gotten bugs in boxed pasta on more than one occasion. With food, I’d always rather have fresher items anyway and grocery store deals are designed on a twelve week cycle so three months should get you through a complete round of deals. Unless it’s in a totally air tight can, bottle, or jar and a specific product or brand I’m loyal to (as in the same product or brand may not be the good deal in the next cycle), then I’m not interested in buying more than what I can use up in three months.

Personal Care and Household (up to 1 year)

Personal care and household items are generally cheaper at the drugstore and drugstores seem to operate on a different sale cycle than grocery stores. While grocery stores are on a twelve week cycle, drugstores seem to be on a yearly cycle. Hair products were free left and right in the spring and it’s all about shaving supplies now that summer is in full swing. Personal care and household items also don’t have a freshness factor that food has and there are many, many more deals to snag these types of items free. If there’s a good deal on a product on my mental list of what I use frequently, I’ll stock up enough for one to three months. If there’s a deal where I can snag something on my list free or very close to it, I’ll stock up to a year’s worth of the item.

In any situation, I think more than a year’s worth in your stockpile is too much. If you use one bottle of shampoo a month and you have thirty bottles, you probably don’t need to buy anymore right now. Another deal will roll around, new products (and promotions for them) are constantly coming out, and your needs and tastes might change.

I’m curious, how many of you have a stockpile, and how long do you think it would last if you didn’t buy any more items?

Thanks to Carrie at It’s Frugal Being Green for this Guest Post.


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  • Dmitry

    wish i read this before i bought 6 additional deodarants …that should last me about 2 years :)

  • For the most part, my stock pile should last at least 6mo for toiletries and cleaners. Food fluctuates. Most of my family goes “shopping” when they come to visit and the other part of my stock I donate. usually items I received for free or as money makers. I just can’t pass up those deals but I don’t want to waste them either.

  • glasslass

    I have always stockpiled. Toothpaste, toothbrush’s, shampoo, any paper product. Canned goods I buy at Sam’s by the case. Use a lot of chicken stock and tomato sauce. But you are absolutely correct about dry pasta’s unless it’s vacuum sealed.

  • Jenny

    If you’re like me and just have to take advantage on every free or .25 deal, just create a box or bag of donations for your church pantry, or hold on to some items for a Christmas shoebox to give to Samaritan’s Purse. There’s always someone who needs those ‘free or almost free’ items. And it sure makes you feel good to give away to others the same way you are being blessed!

  • Erin

    I stockpile things I use a lot of, like canned stewed tomatoes and condensed soups. Also, we have a lot of high school and college kids over (who are ALWAYS hungry!) so when I find soda, mac n cheese, frozen pizzas, and sports drinks for a great deal, I stock up big time! :) I find my kids get tired of eating the same snacks, so even if it’s a great deal, I only buy one or two of a snack item.

    I try to go through our pantry once a month and look for things that we aren’t using/enjoying or that will expire before I know we’ll use them and I take them to our church’s food pantry collection box. Also, our church has a list of wanted food items, so when I find a good deal on these, I buy a lot and donate it right away (peanut butter, tuna, pasta, etc).

  • I would say food wise I stock for about 3 months. But on toiletries, easily a 6 month supply. Got a little low on toothpaste this month, but thankfully the specials were there
    .-=´s last blog ..How I got $52 in sale merchandise for $1 at Rite Aid this month =-.

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  • Shanna

    I’m with Jenny on stocking up on toiletries and household items at low prices that can be donated. Our region has been hit with factory closings and other job losses, causing some folks who normally wouldn’t think of receiving aid to visit our local We Care Ministries center – and the center has been running out of supplies much faster. By shopping the sales with coupons and getting good deals, my dollars go further to meet a need than just mailing a check to the center.

    Otherwise, I probably have a year’s supply of toiletries we regularly use. With our garden this year, I have an abundance of food in my freezers and canned jars of food in the pantry. Just need to buy meat and dairy on a regular basis.

  • Thanks for the great tip off on the Kellogs $10 rebate — got $26 in sale priced items for 48 cents today! Ralphs had a special — buy 4 get $4 back automatically, so combined that with Internet coupons and the rebate and scored big! Thank you! We are set for cereal for another 3 months now.
    .-=´s last blog ..How I got $26 in sale-priced groceries for 48 cents today =-.

  • Great tips! This motivates me to get going on toiletries and other household goods. My pantry is organized and I am fully stocked on all my grains, beans, rice, cooking oil, and canned goods. I need to focus on toiletries, etc. now.
    .-= Kara´s last blog ..Bread Baking with Fresh Ground Flour 101: Thoughts of a Semi-Crunchy Home Manager Part 1 =-.

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