Friday, September 5, 2014

Swapping Stockpiling for Tranquility


I know this is such a ‘first world problem’ to have, but in our Western culture of stocking up, stockpiling and overstocking, there is something very satisfying of having just enough.

I used to love stockpiling bargains on consumables such as pantry food items and toiletries.  But now in an effort to live more simply and have less noise around me, I’ve tempered my ways.

I’m embarrassed to say there have been times when I’ve gone overboard and it has taken us months to plough through whatever specially-priced item I stocked up on.

Our big box supermarkets often have enticements to ‘spend $200 and receive a petrol discount voucher’ which has regularly encouraged us to see what we need and stock up on it.  But in a household of two people and two cats, we really have to try hard to spend $200 in one go.  It was quite stressful just to gain a coupon that saved us about $10-12 (which isn’t to be scoffed at, I agree, but not worth it if you are crowded out of your house with grocery items!)

So I gave myself permission not to stockpile.  I gave myself permission to let something run out and see if I missed it.  Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t.  It is quite a lovely feeling to see space in the pantry and see what items I can use up to make a delicious dinner.

It is also refreshing to know that I can use up my many skincare and cosmetic items before I even need to think of perusing another specials brochure.  I don’t even need to look at that brochure because I already have enough skin cream/shampoo/body lotion. 

Speaking of body lotion, a couple of months ago I bought a 5 litre (1 1/3 gallons!) container of body lotion from a local skincare factory shop, how funny is that.  But I do go through it is vast quantities.

It’s quite fun to see how many days we can not go to the supermarket, and if we need something, it’s put on the shopping list for when we really, really need to go.  

We often pop into fruit and vegetable stores to get fresh produce, but the supermarket list can wait for quite a number of days until we have to go.  And it still might only be less than a dozen items.  It’s such a thrill not to have armfuls of grocery bags to bring into the house.  Plus, there is not money coming out of my wallet while I’m doing this.

When you think about it, I must live a pretty sheltered life if not stockpiling is acting in a risky way, so I feel very lucky about that.  Many people in other parts of the world would wish this was their most pressing concern.

Are you a stockpiler?  Bargain hunter extraordinaire?  Does the thought of having space on your bathroom/kitchen/laundry shelves make you nervous?

‘Not-stockpiling’.  It’s the new way to save time, sanity and money don’t you know.


  1. I totally agree Fiona. I have a back up of most items but that's it, I have the backup so I don;t have to do a last minute dash out the door. I love space.

  2. I think it is chic to have only what you really really need.
    Best wishes for a non stockpiling day!

  3. This is such a good idea. The other day I started a list of things I need to buy at the store, household items. And I looked at it and said to myself, actually, I have not run out of any of these things yet so I don't need to go to the store at all. I was in stockpiling mode. I'm sure I saved myself from another $100 trip to Target where I purchase not only the items on my list but a whole lot of impulse buys.

  4. I used to be a stockpiler, but have since rethought that notion. I prefer having space and keeping my money for as long as possible. :)

  5. I disagree - if you know it's an item that you're going to use (and you have a designated space in which to store it) it is fiscally responsible to stock up. Durable goods are increasing in cost, and it is like money in the bank to have a few extra.

    For example, our Costco now has cat litter and the coffee we drink at a steep discount. I plan on buying several of each item, which will save money down the road.

    Being financially savvy is chic! I'm also retiring early at age 46 next year and will be able to live on 4% withdrawal rate of my investments.

  6. My parents had nearly two rooms devoted to 'stocking up' and, unfortunately, much of it had to be thrown out after they passed because the items were spoiled (canned goods as well as health & beauty items). I don't have the space to stock-up much, but have definitely reduced what I do stock up on and try to only buy one replacement when the other is getting low. Funny thing is, I find myself getting the replacement for tooth paste or shampoo when I think it is about out, and it will still be several weeks until I need it!

  7. I'm with Faun in stocking up on items I always use - but only when it's at a considerable saving, and only where I have designated storage space available.

    For me, that mainly means cleaning products. Yes, really! I have a generous amount of storage space in my laundry, so when dishwashing tablets, detergent, spray starch etc are heavily discounted, those are products I'll stockpile.

    I also keep a good stockpile of canned cat food bought at reduced prices - I have three cats and all those little tins and foil sachets really add up. But I never stock up on regular groceries because my pantry is small, and I don't use much in the way of tinned or packaged foods.

    As one of Fiona's older readers - I'm approaching 60 - my selective approach towards stockpiling has been honed over the years to suit my needs, my home storage capacity, and to maximise my shopping dollar. In other words, I've developed a personal and very practical approach - and I do believe that's what being chic is all about!

  8. I "stockpile" paper towels and toilet paper and soaps.
    Since I have retired I like to shop every few days for food.
    Like you I don't want to be burdened with heavy bags and so I am able to walk to the market getting exercise and fresh air and finding the freshest veggies and meats. Shopping for food becomes a desirable event rather than a chore.
    It feels very French Chic to be shopping frequently...

  9. Dear Fiona, I think stockpiling for tranquility works as long as you know how much you already have. It takes organization. I definitely stock up on sale items that I know we need and go through (such as toilet paper). It's nice not having to run out to get medicine when sick because I don't have it on hand (and probably end up paying full retail).

    I wonder if France has Costco or something like it? It's a hilarious thought! I was just in Paris last month and rented an apartment and as we all know, there is absolutely no room for stockpiling. So I don't know if stockpiling is very "chic" (it doesn't sound like it!) but saving money definitely is :)

  10. I've recently taken a good look at my shopping habits. The freezer is so full I have to unload it to see what's in there. I've been buying fruits and veg without a specific plan for them, and seeing them go to waste. Enough! I decided to cook and eat what's in the freezer, to get it down to a manageable condition, and to buy only the produce I have made plans to use in the next few days. It's rather relaxing,I don't miss the giant shopping trips, and my cooking has become more inventive. I feel so French!

  11. I'm half and half a stockpiler. We have a few shelves in our garage where i store extra tins of things, and we do have a 2nd freezer, but it's virtually empty. We recently became empty nesters and my goal is to try and cut our spending down by 1/2 also, i've found reorganizing my rooms, quietening them down by taking out extra froufrou- cushions and ornaments etc, has also led to lovely tranquility

  12. I just cleaned out my pantry and am through with stockpiling. No new hair products, lotions, etc, until I've used what's under the bathroom sinks either.

  13. I'm not a stockpiler at all. I really prefer living day to day.

  14. I used to stockpile as well, however, in my desire to simplify life that has also changed to only paper products and a couple of items we go through really quickly. I Just saw a tv program discussing the shelf life of cleaning products/laundry soap, most of these items apparently have a best before date of 1-2 years, after that more of the product would have to be used for the same efficiently. Regardless, I am happy to have less 'stuff' around.
    Cheers, Rita

  15. I decided years ago to just have a backup for toiletries, like shampoo, conditioner etc. I only have one of each in my shower, I like to use up one thing before going to buy another one. Same for household items. Our place is so small that I wouldn't know where to put the stuff! Our fridge is small too, so sometimes I have to go to the store or the market to buy produce or meat or cheese for dinner. It's a very french way of shopping and the food is fresher this way... I only kind of stockpile on diapers, but that will end too, one day...

  16. Since the 1970's , I always bought in bulk at coops. Rice, beans,etc. I still do some rice and beans, but I'm moving toward the un stockpiling and shopping fresh when needed. Right now I'm on a pantry/freezer challenge, hoping to clear it out. I love the minimalism of just enough.
    Thanks for this thread. Really good to read.

  17. I only buy back ups for toiletries but do keep enough food on hand for a few days of weather caused inability to get to the store. I have greatly reduced what I stockpile but was very happy to have enough food to get through a week's ice storm a few winters ago. So little need to focus on finding sales or worrying about things going to waste.

  18. For a smaller household, it is really a waste to stockpile. I am trying to use up, toss out or donate my excess. As I am away from home for 4-5 months of the year, I prefer to have less of everything around me. We live in an apartment and it becomes claustrophobic with too much stuff.

  19. Thank you for all these great comments. Most of you seem to have a similar feeling to me, and it's that stockpiling was once a good tool but it's gotten out of hand or your circumstances have changed.

    I agree it's a way to save money and I shall still buy some things in this manner, but it's nice to step back and re-evaluate the way you live from time to time.

    Faun, I agree with everything you say and congratulate you on your early retirement. What an inspiration.

    'Selective stockpiling' and tailoring how you shop with how you live, as Rachel R says. So wise!

    And like Jeanne says, it's about what feels manageable.

  20. since i live in a very small house i let the grocery store do the stockpiling for me. i don't know where the idea ever came from really. i guess i understand getting something on sale at a good price but do we really need to stockpile? my grocery store is less than a mile from my home so it's not a big deal. living in the country would be a different story i suppose.

  21. I'm in the minority here. As a widow with a household of two and sometimes three, I still definitely stockpile. I have a freezer and a pantry. I only buy things at loss leader prices and buy up to six months of our households use when it is that price.

    I have lived through a week of not being able to get out of the house, two weeks of flu so bad I would not share with anyone and more

    I also feed to and a half people for between fifty and sixty dollars a week.

  22. I've been downsizing my stockpile. Started when I quit working - in my whole house declutter process. For instance, I had twenty little hotel bottles of shampoos, etc. I cleared out space close to where I would use them and steadily began using them up. Same was true with so many things in this house - after raising two kids and working full time, things were packed in every available space with no rhyme or reason. Then last year, my son needed a deep freeze for their new home and so we gave him one of two we had. Freeing. Since February, I've decided not to take that extra $100 and stock up the pantry but rather just get exactly what we need. It's odd to open my pantry cabinet and see it 2/3 empty after years of only feeling secure when it was overfilled. For me, this plays into my new goals of facing my fear of not having enough. I went through parts of childhood without food. So, that old fear is real. But, that was forty years ago and I have tools and resources to care for myself that I didn't have as a child. I have enough. I'm practicing the feeling of what "just enough" means. So far, it's very calming overall. Just those slight tings of panic when the old pattern raises its ugly head.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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