Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Stockpiling vs. Hoarding

Most frugal bloggers rave about the notion of stockpiling i.e buying necessities that don't go bad (or last a long time) when they're on sale and just keeping a collection for future use.  This makes tons of sense, if you have a place to store stuff that you know you will use, why not save money on it?  Sure it costs a bit more up front, but overall it's very worth it.

Passion for Savings is doing a series on how to stockpile so I won't cover that.  I will serve as a cautionary tale, however, because there is a fine line between stockpiling and hoarding, and I've crossed it.  I'm currently in the phase where I'm dealing with it and trying to whittle down my stockpiles, but it's a long a winding road.

A year and a half ago, I was a graduate student in library science watching the economy tank and my job prospects along with it.  Needless to say, I panicked a bit.  I started buying up nonperishable food items every time they were on sale, and because I had so much cupboard space, I didn't really realize just how much food I had until it was too late.

This was the state of my cupboards when someone finally intervened.  Now, a year and a half later, this is what my cupboard looks like:
Much more reasonable, but still a work in progress (canned goods not pictured).

Stockpiling is a wonderful way to save money, but you have to think while doing it too. I was hoarding food out of panic, and convinced myself in the moment that I wouldn't mind eating Pasta-Roni every day for the rest of my life.  Clearly that is not the case, as evidenced by all the Pasta-Roni I have left.  Also, Pasta-Roni goes on sale all the time, so all I've done is doomed myself to eat expired product that I don't really want instead of going out and buying something I do want.

Now when I stockpile, I do it with items that I know I will use, but I still don't let myself go overboard.

Some of my biggest stockpile items:

Bread--I eat sandwiches several days out of the week because they're cheap, delicious, filling and I can bring them to work.  Bread is rather expensive regularly, and I'm picky about what I like.  So when my bread goes on sale, I usually buy three or four loaves, and put most of them in the freezer.  This doesn't last me until the next time bread goes on sale, but then I just buy one loaf at a time until I can stock up again.

Tuna--For my sandwiches, naturally.  I also add tuna to a lot of dishes because it's a quick easy protein.  I don't eat meat other than fish, so I'm always trying to find as much protein as I can.  Tuna at my grocery store is regularly priced between $1.50-$1.75 a can, but it frequently goes on sale for 10/$10.  Those tiny cans take up very little space, and I use them.  I will not allow myself to have more then 25 in the house at one time, however.

Peanut butter--Peanut butter is expensive, if you can get it cheaper, do it.

Condiments--When mayonaise, mustard or ketchup go on sale, I buy them.  Since this is something that lasts a long time, I only allow myself one or two backups of each.  Then, by the time I've used that up, it's on sale again.

Tea--I drink at least one cup of tea a day, usually more, so it's a no-brainer to buy it in bulk if I have the option.  I keep one box out, and then just stash the rest wherever.

Basically, smart stockpiling means that you need to inventory what you currently use, and will continue to use.  Unless you're planning to go off the grid and need a year's worth of stuff, do not do what I did.  Think about recipes you often make, and try to stockpile ingredients.  If you don't think you have enough room to store things, make room.  Who cares if you keep a few jars of unopened peanut butter in your clothes closet?  If you save $5, it's worth it.


  1. Bread, especially really good, filling, wheat bread, IS really expensive. Which is why I make my own bread. I got a stand mixer for Christmas and I haven't purchased a bread product since. I make all of my family's sandwich bread, rolls, sweets, everything. I buy my yeast as Sam's, and because I get so much (tons and tons), I keep it in the freezer. I bought the smallest amount I could (4 pounds) in February and I've used maybe 1.5 pounds.

    I'm thinking of doing a scratch v. store bought comparison on bread, but even if store bought does tend to be cheaper, I like knowing what exactly is in something I'm putting into my body every day. Plus it tastes better. :)

  2. I go back and forth on the whole bread-baking thing--and I think it would be awesome if you did do a cost breakdown. I haven't really made bread yet for a couple reasons:
    1. I'm scared--it seems like a lot can go wrong, and I don't want to waste a ton of food/time/money
    2. Homemade bread goes bad so quickly. I know it's a bit horrifying to want something that lasts on the shelf longer, but any home-made bread I've gotten from my mother is stale within a day
    3. It does taste better, but only when it's super fresh
    4. I have a couple friend who used to bake a lot of bread and finally quit because they couldn't handle the drama. Every time a loaf didn't turn out, they were devastated. They tried to do sourdough, and overthought it. When they were trying to do sourdough, all they could think about was the starter. It goes on like this...

    So yeah, I'm going to attempt bread baking, but I'm also going to be ready to scrap the idea. That's another post for another day.