The Stocking Up Principle, Part 2: Stocking Up Is Not the Same as Hoarding

I watched the A&E show Hoarders once. I had to turn it off after about 15 minutes, because I was becoming physically ill.

My husband is constantly freaking out about stuff that I’ve thrown away, given away or recycled. I am one of the least sentimental people and when our house gets cluttery (often), I turn into a big ole grump.

I tell you all of this to establish that I am not someone who relishes the idea of having stuff lying all over the place. If I’m going to keep stuff that isn’t going to be used daily, I want to know that that stuff has a place to be neatly put away.

So given all that, you might be wondering: How do I justify buying 12 boxes of cereal at once? And 6 bottles of BBQ sauce? And 5 packages of diapers in a size my daughter won’t even fit in to for another several months? Not to mention dozens of toothbrushes, toothpaste, beauty supplies, shampoo, tissue and toilet paper? Oh, and let’s not forget the 10 lbs of matzah!

When I write it all out like that (and believe me, that’s just the tip of the iceberg), it sounds a little like hoarding, doesn’t it? There is a significant difference, however, in my humble opinion.

Hoarding is keeping stuff for stuff’s sake. There is no plan for when or how to utilize the stuff.

On the other hand, stocking up is buying stuff at rock-bottom prices, that you actively plan to use up within a reasonable time. In order to be stocking up and not be hoarding, I think the stuff has to meet both of these criteria: (1) rock-bottom price and (2) used within a reasonable time frame.

So for example, if I bought 15 cans of sardines just because they were $.25 each, that would be hoarding. No one in my family eats sardines and those puppies (errrr, fish) would just sit on my shelves collecting dust.

If, however, I bought 15 cans of chunk light tuna in water for $.25 a can, well that would be stocking up. Rock bottom price? Use it within a reasonable time frame? Check and check!

There’s one more idea about stocking up that I want to throw out there: It is really, REALLY important to have an accessible place to store your stockpile purchases. That doesn’t mean you need rows and rows of shelving in your basement. You can keep your stockpile in your closet, under your bed, or out in the garage — just beware of packaging that might attract critters.

(For more tips on organizing and storing your stockpile, you might like this post on How I Organize My Deep Freezer.)

So what do you think? Does stockpiling tooth paste or tomato paste seem like a shrewd financial move? Or more like a slippery slope to Hoarders Anonymous? Have you figured out a way to balance the two so you can save money without compromising your sanity? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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