The following is a guest post written by Devin Ventre for Stretching a Buck Blog, chronicling her journey into the world of couponing. This post is part 5 in the series “Diary of a Couponing Newbie“. Learn more about “Extreme Couponing the Smart Way” in the All About Couponing Series.
If you’ve ever seen the Extreme Couponing show on TLC, and honestly, I think I’ve only seen it twice, then you’re familiar with the term “stockpile.” This is all the loot that you stocked up on using coupons when it was on sale, even though you didn’t need it right then. Some of those folks have got a LOT of loot. This really begs the question, “Why the heck do people do this?!” Y2K is over. And if the rapture is coming, I’m pretty sure you’re not going to need it, whichever way that goes for you. If you’ve seen this show, you might have raised your eyebrows in horror at the vast amounts of stuff people have piled up (*cough* hoarded) behind garage doors or down the basement stairs.
It seems to me that stockpiles are there to be used; they are not an end in themselves. During a month where money is tight, use the heck out of that stockpile. In the month of July, I wanted to test my cheapskate abilities and my modest stockpile. (I’ve included a couple of pictures so you can see just how modest it is.)
Including $150 for my daughter’s ballet, gas fill-ups, groceries, pool visits and other necessities for myself and my two girls (my husband has his own expenses, thank GOD), I spent $778 for the whole month. And I used the heck out of the stockpile. THIS is why we pile stuff up. Also, we went without some things. And the world didn’t even end! I know – we were shocked, too. Now, at the end of the month, my supplies are low on some things and it’s time to start shopping again. But now I know I can do it. Pffft – not spending! Who would have guessed… it’s a great way to save money! Could someone volunteer to write to Congress and let them know?
So, even without Y2K or the rapture, some people are starting to get a little crazy with stockpiling. Prices are going up and confidence in our country’s economic future is going down. While I think it’s great (as long as you left some on the shelves for other people and you can use all that you bought) I’ve come up with a few “guidelines,” for stockpiles. I’m a non-expert, so it’s ok if you don’t like them:
1. If you have rows of laundry detergent or piles of toilet paper stacked up in the bathtub, or on the dining room table, you have gone too far. Your children’s beds are not places to put barbecue sauce. Boxes of diapers should never double as furniture. Stockpiles are only for storage areas.
2. Let’s call this the Rule of 20. If you have more than 20 of ANYTHING, then you need to stop buying that thing. I don’t care if they’re paying you to take them out of the store and giving you a free puppy. It’s enough, man.
3. Here’s an obvious one – if you have stuff you cannot possibly use, give it away before it goes bad. That’s just common sense. By way of example, a few months ago I mistakenly bought, on two different shopping trips, four jars of mayonnaise, all of which expire in November. I had to give two away because a family of four cannot eat that much mayonnaise. Mmmmmm… I wish we could, though!
4. If your couponing or stockpiling becomes an obsession, then you should cut back. Ok, you dumpster dive OCCASIONALLY… Sometimes you stay up until midnight surfing through coupon blogs and websites. You can make it a hobby, but don’t let it rule your life. A lot of people ask me how much time I spend couponing, and it’s really not that much. Maybe 4 hours a month? I’m a lightweight, but you can have too much of anything – even coupons.
5. Take a month here and there and practice not shopping. “Oh, but there’s a great deal on canned sardines at—“ Yeah, those can wait until another month. See how much you can make us of what you already have, go without the things you don’t really need and how much money you can stick in your savings account.
What are your thoughts on stockpiling? Sound off below in the comments.
Devin Ventre is a homeschooling mother of two living in northern Virginia who wanted a cleaning lady. She couldn’t afford one, and decided to save some money using coupons. Now she has her house cleaned twice a month. This is her story.