By now, all of us have caught at least a glimpse of what irresponsible stockpiling looks like. It might be called an addiction, such as those on Extreme Couponing, or it might be called hoarding. Stockpiling responsibly has different goals for different people, and the goal is not always attainable, but this is where I aim.
I consider these goals with stockpiling:
1. Buying things we need at the lowest price every time.
2. Keeping a ready supply of useful items so no emergency expenditures on everyday items is needed.
3. The home and family members are well-supplied with necessities.
4. Sudden problems can be handled easily due to a well-planned stock inside the home.
These are my goals, I don’t always reach them, but I always try. These are my definitions of the goals:
1. Buying things we need at the lowest price every time – I watch sales and track prices. It took about a year to refine the process, and I’d happily be willing to share my information and worksheets, but I kept track for a year of what we were buying and what the prices were at various outlets. I found many surprises in this process – I found that toothpaste was cheaper at the grocery store than the drugstore, that we go through hand soap way more than I thought we did, that socks can triple in price if you don’t pay attention to where you buy them and how much you pay, and that I wasn’t spending as much on meat as I thought I was. Track your expenses where you can, and identify which items you buy most often, and then watch the sales and buy them at the lowest possible price. Buy enough at the lowest possible price so that you will have enough when the prices rise. It will take some trial-and-error, but within three months to a year you will hopefully have a handle on what the lowest price is for your most-purchased items, and you will know
when to buy extra and when to pass it by.
2. Keeping a ready supply of useful items so no emergency expenditures on everyday items is needed – every family is different, you know what your everyday items are. It is incredibly inconvenient to find that you are suddenly out of diapers, toilet paper, toothpaste, tampons, or paper towels. You will find out at the worst possible moment. If you have a responsible stockpile, you have enough of these everyday items on hand that you can store without difficulty and it will last you through a period of time you define. Some people keep a three-month supply, some are more comfortable with a minimum of a year supply. There are endless stories online and in books of families that endured hardships such as the loss of a job or medical problems that drained a family’s resources, but due to planning, they had the stockpile to get them through it without having to use their precious little remaining money to buy the simple stuff. Start with the everyday items and work your way from there.
3. The home and family members are well-supplied with necessities – your husband prefers a certain kind of shampoo, your son goes through socks as if his feet were made of teeth, you have nasty allergies that act up at certain times of the year, and your home has three different floor surfaces that all need cleaning often. Whatever your particular necessities are, they are the sort of thing that keep life from being stressful, keep your home a peaceful haven, and allow you some room in your budget for little luxuries. If the necessities are taken care of, purchased at the lowest price and kept in adequate supply, you will find you are running to the store less often and things run smoother at home.
4. Sudden problems can be handled easily due to a well-planned stock inside the home – everyone has a different definition of “sudden problems”, and will need to base their stockpile accordingly. If you live in an area subject to storm damage, your sudden problem may involve stocking a lot of bottled water and non-perishable food while you deal with power outages. If you have active children, your sudden problems may be anything from a skinned knee to poison ivy to ripped clothing. If you have pets, you have a whole different list of emergencies from cleaning up accidents to replacing a lost collar. Your own sudden problems may vary and you can’t always plan for everything, but you plan for most. As an example, I had a very sudden and severe allergic reaction to something outdoors in my yard while I was doing yardwork, prompting a really annoying case of hives. It had been years since I had a reaction that bad before, but luckily, topical medicine was in my long-term list and I was able to take care of the problem in minutes at home, rather
than get in the car, spend gas money, waste time, and end up paying whatever price the store was charging at that moment I needed it.
Those are the goals and the definitions, next is to explain how to achieve each of those. These are the questions to answer:
WHAT do you need?
HOW MUCH do you need?
WHEN do you buy it?
WHERE do you buy it?