Today’s post is part of an occasional series called ‘Concepts in Frugality’. You can see other posts in this series here.
One thing that you often hear mentioned in any list of money saving or frugal tips is the idea of taking advantage of sales or good deals to stock up on stuff at good prices. Touted as the frugal person’s bank account of sorts, these stockpiles are supposed to help you control your budget and expenses, as you buy things when they are at a good price, not when they need them. And of course there are also all the times you can get things for free, from hand-me-down children’s clothing from friends, to buy one get one offers combined with coupons from the corner drugstore.
But is buying extra, even when you don’t need it, taking advantage of a good deal to stock up on what you will use eventually anyway, stockpiling for a rainy day, or hoarding?
Hoarding, or the compulsive collection of goods, is a strong word, of course. And I don’t think it’s the same thing as stocking up on a good deal, or buying large quantities of a bargain, at least not when kept under control. But when does stockpiling pass the line into hoarding? Is there ever a point at which enough is enough? Can you have too many tubes of toothpaste?
Although I’m not able to take advantage of many of the deals that most of my readers can, because they don’t exist in France, I still like to think of myself as an expert stockpiler. I have a laid-in supply of just about everything, from bars of soap from Ikea (bought on sale for 4 for â‚¬.30) to canned tomatoes to children’s clothes. And I feel like these supplies are insurance against having to pay a high price because I am in a situation of obligation, not option.
Sometimes though, I think people might look at me a bit askance. “Why are you buying 8 packs of baby wipes- they’ll last you for months!” my usually frugal mother said to me the last time she came shopping with me. But they were on sale for a really good deal, and they don’t have an expiration date, so I stocked up. It’s only now, three months later, that I need to think about buying some more.
While I try to stock up on good deals that come around, sometimes it’s just not possible. My house is small, and my budget is limited, so I have to use our limited resources as best as I can. Friday I’ll discuss how and where I store my stashes of stuff… it is possible, even in a small house!
Tell me how you do it. Are you a hoarder or a stockpiler, or do you buy things as you go along? I know it’s not always easy buying extra when the budget is tight- what’s your strategy?