Ready to tackle the next lesson in my month-long fest of learning how to save money with coupons? Fabulous! And if you're not just yet, note that I've created a new category called "October Coupon Lessons" so you can always come back when you have the time (and patience) to work through these.
How many lessons will there be total? Well, I've come up with 16 fun-filled lessons to last throughout the month of October. Based on any comments or feedback I receive as we get going, there may be others added. (So yes, I really do want to hear from you!)
Back on task. Stockpiling.Does the notion freak you out? Make you think of someone with an anxiety disorder? Or maybe you think of someone that's in a cult, preparing for the Apocalypse? Maybe you just think of Grams and Gramps, fresh out of The Depression Era.
Let's get something straight. I am not advocating you HOARD items. Hoarding is when you collect more than you can reasonably use or need. We are NOT going to learn how to do that, dear readers.
What we are going to talk about is stockpiling. After some thoughtful reflection, I came up with this list of qualities of a good stockpile:
1. Usefulness. It only makes sense to store items your family will use regularly. Your time & space is valuable.
2. Date-Conscious. Mind your expiration dates! Don't stock up on two years' worth of salad dressing if it will all go bad in 6 months (speaking from experience on that one…)
3. Organized. I'm still working on this, but a good stockpile should be organized to help you with your cooking, meal planning, and grocery list-making.
4. Diverse. I'm also working on this one. It's a great idea to stock items for a wide variety of meals. I love to look for the basics – pasta and pasta sauce, rice, cereals, canned beans, canned veggies, soups, tomato-based products, condiments, etc.
5. Inspiring. Your stockpile should inspire you to want to cook and eat at home! Remember, you're trying to save money, right? By stocking a variety of foods, you will have fun selecting a snack to prepare with the kids or a last-minute party dish to prepare.
Does it make sense how stockpiling is not the same as hoarding?
Last night, I stayed up after the kids were in bed to take pictures of my stockpile tp share with you. I want to illustrate that you can stock up on items beyond groceries, too. Household cleaners, toiletries, paper goods, and baby care items are excellent to stock up on because they are often very costly when not on sale.
OK, onto my pictures. Ready?
Here are some of my canned goods. Right now, there are some fabulous deals on Campbell's soups, generic-brand canned vegetables and beans. I am working to build up my stockpile for the fall and winter months.
Next, condiments. I have probably more than enough BBQ sauce (you'll notice it's spilling onto two shelves). I go through my pantry about once every 1-2 months and reassess. If I find I'm not moving through a particular item fast enough, I will donate it to our church's food pantry. All the BBQ sauce was free, so it wasn't something that put me out any.
Next I decided to take this interesting picture. It's the view my 16-month old daughter has whenever she plays in the pantry. (Hey, it was late and I wanted to spice things up a bit.)
Oh, and my stockpile album wouldn't be complete without this pic: our tuna stockpile. I don't much care for tuna, but my husband does. As a firefighter, he's always looking for things that he can easily prepare up at work. This totally fits the bill! If you think this looks like a lot, it is. (And if you can't tell, there are about 40-50 packs there.) Most of the packs are good for 2-3 years, so we felt reasonably safe in purchasing this amount. After coupons and sales, the tuna was just $0.05 a pack.
Now, for a few pictures of other things that our family stockpiles. These are intended to give you ideas. You might have other items that you want to stockpile. These are just some of the items that have saved our family hundreds of dollars by stocking up on when they were cheap, free, or better than free (yes, you read that last part right). I left these images small so we can get through this post already. Get out your magnifying glass if you really need to see every last item.
Razors & cartridges:
Candles & assorted "smellies" (great for gifts or for pick-me-ups when I need 'em). These items were all about $1 or less – many were free:
Baby bath items (also great for baby shower gift baskets!):
So what else could you stockpile? Batteries, light bulbs, laundry detergent, dish detergent, diapers, kitty litter…you name it. It's almost a question of what couldn't you stockpile. (OK, well we have a very meager car and fancy furniture stockpile right now…but you know what I was getting at.)
"But wait, where am I supposed to put it all?" you ask.
Great question! Before you start stockpiling there are a few things I'd recommend you doing first.
1. Assess your storage space. Where could you put extra toothpaste? Shampoo? Soup? Consider all the options – closets, pantry, cupboards, garage.
2. Clean out your space. This would be the time to thoroughly clean out your pantry, cupboards, and shelves. Get rid of what you aren't using and what you won't ever use. (Where appropriate, recycle or donate, of course!). It's important to see what you're actually left with.
3. Begin to form a "stockpile wish list." What items regularly get added to your weekly shopping list? What items irk you the most to pay full price for? Write them down so you can start paying attention to the deals.
I'm going to cut out for now. I hope your brain is full, but not too full. (You don't want to stockpile brain cells past their expiration date, after all).
Wondering what's next?
Yes, we are going to finally start bringing coupons into the picture. So here's what I'd like you to do. Grab a Sunday paper tomorrow. Then meet me back here afternoon and I'm going to help you make sense of exactly what you need in that paper – and what you don't.
PS. If you would like to read more about what I've written in the past about stockpiling, let me direct you to these posts:
Five Steps to Building a Better Stockpile (Guest post for Thrifty Northwest Mom)
A Peek into my Stockpile (one of my very first posts & includes pics of when I was starting out)
Building a Well-Rounded First Aid Stockpile
You can also find more pictures of my stockpile in the "Stockpile" category, or in my photo albums when you become a Facebook fan of The Coupon Project.