Stocking up on important items can be a great idea. If you can find some slamming deals and save yourself a ton of money, it’s definitely a win-win, right? Not necessarily, sometimes you can actually waste more money in the long run than what you saved by snagging the deals! It’s similar to how sometimes coupons can make you broke.
What do I consider stocking up? Buying mass quantities of necessary home supplies or groceries that you may not need right now, but will (hopefully) use sometime in the future. You stock up because you find it on sale, and instead of paying full price later you can buy it for less now. I talk more about this in my book How to Coupon Effectively. You can also start a gift closet by purchasing Christmas, birthday gifts, and other gifts months (or years) in advance.
Stocking up is NOT a bad idea but I think it can be very easy to go overboard, particularly when we start getting excited.
Here are my tips to keep your stocking up strategies on track:
1.) Know your storage limits
Deals are nice, but we don’t have unlimited space. If storing your purchases makes your living situation complicated or awkward, it’s not worth it! Have a plan for storing items. Do you have shelves open in your pantry? Storage space in your garage (for laundry detergent or other similar items)?
2.) Have a plan for perishables
Did you get a great deal on meat, fruit, or fresh vegetables? That’s awesome, but they don’t last forever. Consider adjusting your weekly meal plans to incorporate these deals. If you have room for freeze meals check out our ALDI meal plans. Remember, you’re not saving anything if you have to throw stuff away.
3.) Find your ‘stock up’ price
This may well require some research. Look at the average price of the items you buy (per wipe, per pound, etc). Observe sale prices. Over time you may notice trends. If you’ve been shopping sales for a while you may have already noticed sale patterns. Some items go on sale frequently but not for as deep of a discount as other items. Pick your stock up items so that they will save you the most money.
I have a video on my stock up prices from a few years ago, it was filmed 4 years ago so the prices are a bit different now, but at least you can get the gist of what a good price would be.
4.) Goal Setting
Sounds silly right? But hear me out on this. If you’ve been couponing or working on deal shopping for a while it is possible you’ve noticed that some items go on sale very frequently while other items do not. Plan to take advantage of sales that come up less frequently.
5.) Be realistic
It can be exciting and a rush to get 9 air freshener bases for only $0.50 each, but be reasonable. Are you actually going to use all of those air fresheners before they expires? Do you really need 500 rolls of toilet paper? Do you have ROOM for all of it?
6.) Organization is crucial
I can’t say this enough. Organization is so important so that you can keep track of what you have, when it expires, and how you can use it. If you’re stocking up on gifts (or have a gift closet), consider making a spreadsheet of what you have, who it’s for, and what occasion you were planning on using it. Sounds silly but there have been times I’ve found gifts that I’ve forgotten I purchased! Don’t let items expire if you can help it. If necessary some items are always gladly welcomed at food pantries or charities.
7.) Mistakes will happen
Mistakes are a part of life, sometimes it better just to accept that. Sometimes you’ll misjudge whether or not you’ll like a certain item, or your child’s size, or some other factor. Don’t be afraid to sell some of your extra purchases, return them (if it’s within the return policy limit), or donate items. Treat it as a learning moment and use it to make better purchasing decisions in the future.
8.) Pay attention to savings v.s. time v.s. loss
Stock piling is BEST when it is saving you money and making your life easier. Pay attention to how much money you are saving compared to ‘shopping normally’. Be sure to take into consideration how much time it takes you to shop, get rain checks if necessary, clip coupons, store items, FIND the items in your house, etc.
I teach an hourly wage approach to saving money in my How to Coupon Effectively book, look at your hourly wage when saving money. If you are spending 10 hours to save $5.00, your time may be better spent doing something else.
Some people wonder what SHOULD they stock up on? My answer is that it depends on your household. Some of my favorite items to stock up on toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, laundry detergent, and dish washer detergent because they are all easy to store and don’t tend to expire.
In a perfect world stocking up will allow you to never pay full price for some of your most commonly used items and maintain a reasonable supply in your home so you never run out! Do you stock pile anything? What are your tips and tricks?