“Stockpiling” is the term couponers long have used for shopping ahead of sales cycles, then storing groceries and supplies until the next sale.
It’s a great strategy for shelf-stable, non-perishable or freezer-stable items, because prices fluctuate. Buying at a low sale price, with coupons, ensures that we never have to pay full price. Need another box of cereal? Tube of toothpaste? Roll of paper towels? Grab it from your stockpile versus running to the store. You’re saving big.
However, for some people, the word “stockpiling” has become synonymous with “hoarding” or “buying big.” And, based on some of the email I’ve received, I think we need a new word for what we do. Thanks to extreme couponers, that word seems to be scaring off would-be coupon shoppers:
I read your column in my paper each week and I know you couponers are saving large amounts of money on everything. But I have seen those TV shows where people stockpile a whole bedroom of things. We don’t want that much in the house and I can’t but help wonder: Don’t these people want to live in their living spaces? Show me couponing without stockpiling and I just might sign up.
Notes like that make me want to scream from the rooftops, “MY house isn’t full of cans and toilet paper!” My stockpile fits on a set of shelves in my laundry room, and it’s rotated regularly. For most items, I’m only buying in quantities that we can use over about a three-month span. But couponing without some form of stockpiling is tough, as we “win” the couponing game by buying when prices are low, then using our on-hand inventory when prices are high.