Published June 17, 2017. Written by Jasmine Edwards
Stocking up can be defined as the act of collecting or gathering items for future use. Quite often it can be an opportunity to save money, and can also mean fewer trips to the shops every week. However when I’m out shopping, I quite often find myself trying to avoid purchasing multiples of the same item. To me, stocking up is more bothersome than it’s worth, for quite a number of reasons.
I live with roommates in a small house in the suburbs, and for the most part, I only need to shop for myself. My rate of consumption is obviously much lower than that of, say, a family of six, and hence for me, stocking up quickly transforms from a time and money saving activity to expired food in the fridge and money down the drain. I don’t even like stocking up on non-perishable goods – I know that if I were to buy four canned soups, they would either become 100% of my diet for the next two days, or sit at the back of my pantry for the next year and a half. I like to try and keep variety in my diet, and I can’t do that, and simultaneously avoid waste, unless I often buy a little of a lot.
There is something to be said about the power of proportion as well – I know that I am more likely to have a bigger piece from a 2kg block of chocolate than from a 500g block, and not feel as guilty either because I still only had a fraction of the overall.
Food aside, I still don’t like to stock up on items unless I absolutely know I will go through it at a reasonable rate. Items such as shampoo, soap, dishwashing detergent and toothpaste are only bought individually and only when I am running low of the one currently in use.
Take shampoo for example – I only go through one bottle every four months or so. During those four months I may decide I want a new scent, or that this particular shampoo isn’t cleaning my hair so well anymore. If I had stocked up on even just one additional bottle, that’s another four months I have to go through with poorly-washed, mundane smelling hair – all for the benefit of saving myself a couple of dollars through the “buy two at a discount” promotion at the supermarket.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a sale as much as the next person, but it can’t really be considered saving money if you’re not happy with the product you bought by the time you get around to using it. The risk of changing circumstance is one of my biggest deterrents when it comes to stocking up.
I also really dislike having things sitting around my house that serve no purpose. As I said, I live with roommates – in an attempt to be considerate towards them and the common areas of the house, I do my best to keep most of my belongings out of the way in my room. If I buy four tubes of toothpaste because they were on special, I will have at least one of them sitting in my drawer for the next two years (yes, it really does take me that long to go through toothpaste). That’s two years of valuable space being taken up, two years of having to look after something, and two years of reminding myself not to buy more toothpaste because I’ve already got some. During those two years, there’s also a chance my Mum will buy me toothpaste in an attempt to make sure I’m looking after myself, and those two years are now two and a half years.
The extra toothpaste is also something I can’t get rid of – if I decide to do a big clean out and reorganise, throwing out the toothpaste would be a waste of money. Instead I need to find a home for this item that currently serves no purpose, and the big declutter is not so decluttering after all.
A true anecdotal story – I have a friend who purchased ten packs of cleaning wipes three years ago. At the moment, they still has seven packs. I asked them why they needed so many and they said they bought them at a really good price, and will eventually go through them all.
They have since bought a number of other cleaning items in bulk as well, reducing the need for these wipes and slowing down their rate of consumption. Instead of a clean house, they now have a very cluttered house where it is difficult to find things, and where there is very little remaining storage room. They are also continuing to buy cleaning products because they can’t remember or find the products they already purchased – in an attempt to save money, they are now finding they are spending more money.
It is this cycle of unnecessary purchases and wasted space that I try to be conscious of when shopping. I do believe that for big families and people who consume certain items at a fast rate, stocking up is a great strategy to save time and money. However for as long as I am shopping only for myself, I will always as myself “is this really worth the draw space?” every time I pass a 2-for-1 sale at the supermarket.