May 18, 2010

Saving 101: Stockpiling

Stockpiling will save you lots of money. If you don't do it already... give it a try.

What is stockpiling?
A stockpile is basically just a large supply of the items you use most. Each shoppers stockpile will look a bit different. Sales are cyclical. If you pay attention and stock up when items are at their lowest price you can save a bunch of money, even if you never want to clip a coupon.

Stockpile What YOU Use Most
Only stock up on items you use when they are a great deal. This is where knowing your prices comes in. When my four "biggies" go on sale I really stock up and those are: peanut butter, cheese, boneless skinless chicken breasts, and ground beef.

For example, I only buy peanut butter when it is $1 or less. I buy a case or sometimes 2 to get us through until the next sale. So I spend $12 on peanut butter at once instead of buying each one individually for $2, saving myself $12 (maybe more) that I know I'm going to spend anyway. I only buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts when they are $1.66 per pound or less. Prices change so I keep running list of stock up prices.

Where Do You Put It All?
Just find a corner to pile your stuff and start watching the sales. Shelves are nice but not necessary. I remember reading in the Tightwad Gazette once...Would you rent out the space under your bed for $30 a month? Who wouldn't? Well, if you put food under there that you got a great deal on that is essentially what you are doing. Most of us here in WI are fortunate enough to have basements so maybe you won't even have to put a bunch of stuff under your bed!

If you don't have a stand alone freezer, you might want to save up for one (check Craigslist for a used one). Even if you only put meat you bought on sale in it, it would pay for itself in no time. Buying meat when it is on sale and freezing it can save you BIG! And, yes it is safe to freeze meat for several months.

I Don't Have Enough Money to Buy Extra Food Each Week
Think you don't have room in your budget to stockpile? Think again. The little bit you save this week can be used to save more next week....until you rarely pay full price for the things you use the most. If you already stockpile a little bit, branch out to other products to save even more. You could eventually get to the point where you don't need to buy anything but milk, produce, and the very best deals each week.

I've talked about this before but since this is a good time of year to buy certain sale items I thought it might be a good reminder. Keep an eye out for seasonal sales (ketchup, mustard, baked beans, and the like in the summer OR flour, butter, sugar, etc in the late fall). Buy enough to last you until the next year when the sale are good again. You'll love shopping in your basement and pulling items off your own shelf instead of adding them to your shopping list. Come this time next year if prices have gone up (and they will!) you be using items bought at this year's (lower) prices!

How Much Do You Need
You'll have to do that math on that one. One way to see how long something lasts you is to grab a Sharpie marker and write the date you open it on the lid. If it takes you a month to use it up you know a year's supply of that item would be 12. If you are watching sales and know that item goes on sale for rock bottom prices once every six months buy 6 each time it hits the lowest price. Some things have longer expiration dates than others so it won't hurt to store extra of those. [Keep in mind most (not all but many) "expiration" dates aren't really that, they are "best by" dates. It will not harm you to eat items after that date, especially on processed type foods.]

What About Things You Can't Stockpile
There are some things you just can't stockpile. [Lettuce?] Stockpile the items you are able to and this will leave room in your budget for things that just never go on sale. You can do other things to help lower the cost of those items, like eat in season and shop around (Aldi, Sam's Club, Badger Wholesale, etc).

Stay Organized
Now having a great supply if food isn't very helpful if you forget what you have! Keep like items together and shelves tidy. Use older items first so you don't end up with one can of corn from 2002 in the back corner of your cupboard because it just kept getting shoved to the back. (This rotating can organizer is a great help!) A freezer list of some type is especially helpful. Just google "freezer list" if you need some ideas.

It's Not Just for Food
Stockpile other necessities when you can. If you shop carefully, you will have a nice supply of toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc. that cost you nothing or just pennies. You might already do this on a small scale if you buy enough school supplies to last you the whole school year during the "Back to School" sales. No one likes to pay $2.29 for a notebook in October when they were 10 cents in August.

Other Benefits of a Stockpile
Having a stockpile on hand during a snow storm, illness, or even a layoff can give you real peace of mind. It is quite easy to help others by donating. It saves time, fewer quick runs to the store. You can always make something from what you have on hand.

Below is a picture of some of my stockpile. I didn't pay full price for any of these items and some I got for free:

This post is part of the Saving 101 series, to read the rest of the posts click here or on the tab above.


jake7 said...

Shelly, so glad you wrote this AND mentioned
The Tightwad Gazette. That book is what kick-started my shopping style when I first got married 12 years ago! I pull out the omnibus once a year to read and see if I can glean any more frugal advice I have not incorporated into our life yet. I always think of Amy (The Frugal Zealot) asking how much you would pay yourself to save money and if it's worth it. Ex. If I buy ground round in bulk and then spend ten minutes repacking with my Food Saver, is that worth my time? And yes, I store items in unconventional places in our house--not under the bed but paper toweling is in the hubby's closet and I have a second "pantry" in the basement.

Shelly said...

The Tightwad Gazette is my all time favorite money saving book! I love to re-read it as well!

I like that F.Z. doesn't just tell you what to do, she encourages you to THINK about how you could be doing things differently.

All her kids are grown now! There was a great interview with her not too long ago. I'll have to dig up the link.

jake7 said...

Found one from last year:

Pretty cool because in all these years, I'd NEVER seen a picture of her. She mentioned TV appearances but those were all before I was a follower

Shelly said...

I actually saw her on the Phil Donohue show once way back when!

I never subscribed to her newsletter and I didn't buy and read the book until 2000. That's when I really started trying to save money.

Now I feel a kinship with her since she has six kids including twins and so do I! :)

I just posted the video I was talking about!