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Thursday, June 24, 2010

(How to Avoid) Three Stupid Stockpiling Mistakes

In the amazing world of couponing, it's easy to get carried away with the great deals you find and end up buying too much of an item that's on a great sale. I learned this several years ago when I started couponing, but it came back to me this weekend when I moved into my new home and realized again just how much stuff I had over-bought. Here are the three things I wish I had known when I started stockpiling. If you're just starting out, hopefully it will save you money, time, and space by helping you know how much of an item you should buy, and how much is too much.

1. Check the expiration dates. I know this sounds obvious, but it wasn't to me. Growing up in a house of nine people, I never even heard the words "expiration date" because food was never around long enough to expire. I was surprised, then, when in my early couponing years I noticed that the stockpile of cookie and cake mixes I had bought was about to expire. Fortunately, I was able to give them to a large family who was eager to use them up so the food didn't go to waste, but I could have saved myself the effort of buying the items in the first place if I had noted the expiration dates before I bought them.

2. Ask yourself how long your family will use this item, really. During our broke college days, I once stockpiled a bunch of macaroni and cheese, thinking that my husband and I could save money by eating it for lunch for the next several months. Unfortunately, after two months of eating mac and cheese, we started to think we would die if we ever saw anything orange again. Although we were sick of it, we still had a lot of mac and cheese to deal with. I even found a few left in the corner of the cupboard when we moved this weekend!

3. Know how much of an item you need. Before I had my first son, there was a great deal on baby lotions, shampoos, and body washes. Because I had never had a child before, I figured that I'd go through about one bottle of lotion and one bottle of wash a week.

Are you done laughing yet?

Okay, now are you done?

I was a new mother! Cut a girl some slack!

Anyway, the end of this story is that I ended up with waaaay too many baby cleansing products on my hands and although my son is now three and a half, I still have boxes of baby products for which I need to find a worthwhile purpose. And it's all because I didn't know how much an item I actually needed. I should have called a friend and found out before I started stockpiling

I've saved a lot of money by couponing over the years, and it would have been even more if I had known when I started how to avoid these three over-stockpiling mistakes. They say that a smart man can learn from his own mistakes and a wise man can learn from others' mistakes. I had to make the mistakes to learn the lessons, so I'm stuck with just being smart. You, however, can learn from my mistakes so pull out your coupons, hit the stores, and remember to be wise.


DD said...

This is great. My "overstockpile" mistake was salad dressings and mayonnaise. Now I just make sure I have one in use and ONE waiting in the wings! They expire super fast!

May I use your article on this page if I credit you and link to your blog? Stockpiling. I would also love any tips and suggestions about the page. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great post. My stockpiling mistake was Bisquick. Bought tons of it because it was such a deal, even though nobody in my family was fond of it. I don't know how much stuff I've thrown away because I had too much of it. I now just stockpile things I know I will use, suce as rice and potato side dishes, granola bars, dental supplies and tomatoe sauce. I actually use all of it and waste so much less than I used to.

Heidi said...


I feel so complimented that you asked! That decision is ultimately up to the proprietors of this page, Karin and Shelley. I'll let them know you asked.

Heidi said...


Shelley says go for it! Thanks for the linkage.

Anonymous said...

I still have baby shampoo I am trying to use on my "baby". He is 10 now, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Yes we have the 2 quart bottles of Baby Shampoo, with a pump, in each bathroom. We got them when he as born. He is turning 3 now. Also, we stockpile, then forget where we put the stockpiled item (2 dozen tooth brushes, didnt fit under the sink, went in the cabinet over the washer?) Then we end up paying a premium to buy one of the item, because we need it ASAP and can't find the STASH. When you have stash all over the house, basement, garage, in the trunk of your car even, it gets to be too much!

Anonymous said...

A great way to "use up" the over stock is to donate it to the local Food Bank or to a church food pantry. I get all the free and cheap stuff I can and donate it. That way I don't feel so guilty about saving way too much money (LOL)and I'm helping out the community!

Deidra said...

Yes, donate your excess to charity and don't forget it is tax deductable! The food bank WILL take expired food. (As long as it's not TOO old) Just take a picture of it, estimate it's worth and put it in your tax file.

Anonymous said...

Excess baby shampoo can be used as a face wash. It's really gentle and won't dry out your face.

Blue said...

extra shampoo and bubble bath and such are also great for scrubbing the tub. i keep a brush hanging on the wall in there, and now instead of noxious chemicals and an icky job, i just put the conditioner on my hair, and then scrub the tub and shower curtain with whatever cheap product i have in the shower while it soaks. i build the cleaning into my conditioning routine, and then the tub is always clean, it doesn't take any extra time, and it's not using icky chemicals. win win.

HearingGirl said...

Thanks for writing this article it has made me the beginning couponer start to think along those lines.

BTW, baby shampoo can be put in the water for house plants and gardens. It acts as a wetting agent to help the water incorporate into the soil and if you dump it onto the leaves of the plant (only early morning or late at night to avoid burning the plants leaves) it can help keep bugs off. That is a Jerry Baker trick. You just can't have things like Antibacterial agents or bleach in the soap which, is why baby shampoo is good.

Julie said...

Food banks will often take nonfood items as well. Thanks to Walgreens, I often over-stockpile toothpaste, and our local food bank is happy to distribute my extras along with their regular food distributions (and the families who get it seem happy about it as well!).

Rachy said...

I can't tell you how relieved I am to hear about this! I am new to couponing and have been overwhelmed with all the great deals and not having all the money in the world to buy it all! lol I will be smarter in my couponing and stockpiling.

Kami said...

Thanks for the tips! I didn't really consider the expiration date on mayo and dressing--I better go check my pantry! :)

Kudos to any of you who donate your extras! I've been in the position of needing help from charity before and while it was kind of hard to ask for help, I felt such gratitude to those who take the time to donate and to the people who volunteer to help others. In addition to food banks, I'm sure any shelters (like WCA)that house families with children could use extra baby products and toilettries, and the Ronald McDonald House takes donations of food, clothing, toys, blankets, laundry products, toilettries, and just about anything used in a regular house! (We've had to stay there before when my youngest was in NICU. It was an amazing place.) Anyway, thanks again to all of you who donate, it REALLY does make a difference to others!

Unknown said...

I cannot stand letting free or almost free stuff go to waste. I always get those things, even if we don't need them and then donate.
I probably donate more than we keep. It's no big deal for me to stop and drop things off and these places are always in need. We have a local food bank, but also other places. I donate to a Family Shelter where people who are 'car camping' or otherwise can come in and "shop" and take things with them. The food bank provides food to the shelter, but the families aren't allowed to take it out. They can eat there, though. Anyway, I think we brought about 40boxes of cereal last time. Even my husband can't pass up a cereal deal :)


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