How to build a stockpile and save thousands in the process

How to build a stockpile and save thousands in the process

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten sucked into watching Extreme Couponing? I don’t watch it anymore but back in the day when we were struggling financially I’d sit there and try to soak up every ounce of wisdom those coupon divas had to share. I mean, how did they do it? How did they manage to save hundreds and hundreds of dollars on their hauls? Impressive right?

I mean from a quantitative point of view – aka accumulating the most amount of stuff for the least amount of money- it really is impressive. But, as a frugal lifer I take issue with stockpiling so many items for the sake of stockpiling. In most of these episodes you’ll hear things like ” I’ll buy the whole shelf – we don’t really use it but at least I can add it to my stockpile “. In retrospect these ladies were probably actually buying into consumerism because they were wanting to coupon to buy more, more, more regardless of whether what they were buying was useful! It can get incredibly wasteful when your stockpiling products that you don’t regularly use – the shelf life of many foods although rather long wouldn’t be sufficient to carry you through consuming let’s say 600 tins of tuna before it expires ya know?

Tangent –> I wish they would do a follow up to show exactly how much of that stuff actually gets consumed and how much gets tossed. Interesting stuff I imagine.

That’s not to say that stockpiling is a bad thing! Don’t get me wrong, done correctly, it’s quite the opposite actually! We stockpile on the regular for things that we know we use and need. I see it this way: if you’re going to stockpile things just to benefit from the deal then you’re absolutely wasting your money. If you’re stockpiling things that are essential in your home then keep on keeping on because stockpiling can and will save you thousands every year.

We tend to buy all our goods on sale and stock up to make sure we never run out and have to pay full price.  See, when you run out of something you’re forced to buy it out of necessity which becomes problematic because buying out of necessity and not planning ahead often costs you more money. Consumerism is really founded on this idea of fulfilling immediate needs right? So, it’s not surprising that running out of laundry detergent can potentially set you back over 10$ a box if you’re in a jam when you can get the same product for half the cost when on sale. You don’t have to pay full market price for these items folks. With a little planning, organizing and know how you can stock up on what you need at a fraction of the cost.

The point is, stockpiling can be extremely useful and beneficial to keeping your expenses down if you approach it reasonably. I’ll confidently say that stockpiling is what helps us keep our weekly grocery budget under 100$. Would you believe me if I told you I’ve never paid more than 4.99$ for laundry detergent? I hope so because it’s the absolute truth. I stock up when it goes on sale and I buy as much as my budget permits. Usually, I have at least 6 months worth of product in my garage so I’m never faced with an emergency run to the store where I’m forced to pay full price for essential household items. For what it’s worth we tend to use 2 boxes of powdered laundry detergent per month as a family of 3 which means I always have at least 12 boxes stocked in my garage.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

How to build your stockpile from scratch

Identify your household needs

All our needs are different but I’m pretty confident in saying that we likely all need some form of detergent, fabric softener, bleach and cleaning supplies. Sure, you can make your own which I’ve tried and although it does save you a ton of money I really wasn’t satisfied with how the products cleaned my clothes and home. For what it’s worth, all the DIY detergents I’ve made ended up dulling our whites and being ineffective at stain removal. Additionally, with my weirdo skin conditions I know that Tide works well for me and keeps me rash free so I stick to what I know works.

To get a solid idea of what you need pull out a pen and paper and divide it into categories: household cleaners/detergent, personal hygiene and food. From there, take an inventory of what shelf-stable items you use on a very regular basis. Those items are the ones you need to be stock piling folks.

Related TTBH content: The Buyerarchy of Needs aka do you want or need it?

Save 20$ per week for a “stockpile fund”

So how does one start saving up enough money to start spending money to save money? It’s really not that simple right? Most people are living paycheck to paycheck with very little space for any extra expenses! I was one of those people and so, I know just how difficult it is to spend a little extra on anything let alone boxes and boxes of kleenex or detergent. Well, my suggestion is to plan ahead. If you’re in a situation where you can’t necessarily start stockpiling right now, that’s fine! Start putting a little away every week to build up a stockpile fund. This way, you’ll always have a little extra cash available to you to take advantage of awesome sales happening in your neighborhood. If you’re truly stuck and can’t manage to put anything aside have a look at my post about side hustles that can earn you a little extra cash. Doing a little temporary side hustling can totally give you the momentum you need to build up enough of a cash flow to start stockpiling sooner than later.

Related TTBH content: 50 side jobs that will help you pay of your debt aka side hustles to build a stockpile fund

Create a space/location to store your goods:

Find an area of your home that you are willing to devote to stockpiling. Folks, this stuff takes up room and without having a dedicated space you’ll easily get overwhelmed by the stockpile hoard. Garages, closets, basements, spare bedrooms and even garden sheds work well. Find a space and prepare to start filling it up with awesomely useful household goods.

To put this in context there was this one time years ago that I was able to score a bunch of 1$ coupons for Cottonelle toilet paper. It also happened to be a flash sale weekend where the 12 packs of said toilet paper were at the ridiculously low price of 2.99. So, Mer and I loaded ourselves into our car and hit up at least 5 different stores to stock up. We paid 2$ per pack and ended up hauling over 260 rolls of toilet paper home that day. Stocking it was a challenge because we didn’t have a dedicated space at the time and admittedly I did go way overboard. We had so much TP that we were storing it under beds, in closets, in bathrooms and basically every nook and cranny we could find. Moral of the story: set up a dedicated space that will keep your home organized and stress free. Sleeping on toilet paper isn’t ideal folks.

Scout sales/specials and online coupons

The next time you get your weekly flyers in the mail take the time to really look through them and make a mental inventory of which of your stockpile items are on sale and where. I cannot believe how many people tell me that they dump the lot of circulars directly into the recycling bin! Those circulars are your lifeline when you’re building up your stockpile.

When I receive mine I divide them in two piles. One pile is devoted to drug stores and the other to grocery. Why might you ask? Well, in our area drug stores tend to have awesome sales on household cleaning products while grocery stores tend to do better with regards to sales on food (obviously). Once I’ve split them in two I jump in and start making an assessment of whether there’s something I need on sale.

Generally speaking, laundry detergent goes on sale only twice per year in these parts. When you’ve been doing this stockpiling thing for a little while you’ll start to notice patterns when it comes to sales on certain items. So, because I know that our laundry detergent goes on sale only twice per year I make sure to get as many as my budget allows for when it’s time.

If you’re feeling especially thrifty you can scope out online coupon sites to try and score coupons for these same items. Having said that, coupons need to approached with caution. I handle it this way: unless it’s a coupon for something I’ll buy regardless I will not take the time to print and use it. Coupons can easily lead you into the excess buying of unnecessary things simply to take advantage of a deal.

Hit up more than one store to get more product:

In our area when there are great sales there are usually limits on how many items you can buy. Sales generally start on Thursdays and run until the following Wednesday but usually by the weekend the really great deals are sold out. I usually head out early on a Thursday with Margsy in tow and hit up as many stores as I possibly can. One drug store that usually puts my detergent on sale has 4 locations in my area and I make sure to visit each one. This way I can stretch the 3 person limit to 12! If something is sold out I’ll always ask for a rain check. This way I can head back in when they’ve replenished their stock and still benefit from the awesome deal. 

What makes its way into our stockpile

Stay tuned for a post on stockpiling food and freezer items!

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Want to read even more frugal fabulousness? Here ya go!

Talk to me about your stockpiles!

Do you do it? If so, what are your must have stockpile items? If not, is it something you’d consider?

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71 Comments

  1. July 3, 2017 / 6:50 am

    Such a great post! I plan to try stockpiling and couponing when I move to the States. I like to donate food to homeless shelters, so I wonder if couponing would be helpful for that!

    • July 3, 2017 / 9:34 am

      That’s an absolutely awesome way to use up coupons. Paying it forward is never a bad idea!

  2. July 3, 2017 / 7:43 am

    I rarely coupon unless its for essentials like these because most of the coupons are for things I would not normally buy anyways (so getting the “deal” would be spending money I wouldn’t have spent to begin with). Laundy detergent, diapers, and dish soap are all items I look for deals for and use coupons for to create a surplus.

    • July 3, 2017 / 9:32 am

      Yes. Exactly! Around here we rarely have access to coupons – it’s just not as big of a thing as it is in the US I think. Having said that, when there are coupons they are often for things we don’t usually buy so we avoid it altogether. Thanks for reading Davi!

  3. Karin
    July 3, 2017 / 7:47 am

    Absolutely loved this post! So many great tips! I have to say though research like this is like half the battle to be successful. So thank you so much for putting this post together.

    • July 3, 2017 / 9:31 am

      Thank you so much for reading Karin! 🙂

  4. July 3, 2017 / 8:42 am

    These are such great tips for stock piling! I try so hard to buy things when they’re on sale (like tissues or toilet paper). I think the hardest thing for me is finding the storage space for them, we just don’t have it. So it ends up frustrating me to have it around so I need to do better at clearing a space where I can keep the extras. I also would love to see an episode after the couponing one to see how much they used/how much they had left/how much expired because they forgot about it or couldn’t use it all. I do love the episodes where people would donate what they didn’t need to places like women’s shelters.

    • July 3, 2017 / 9:31 am

      Having a place to store it is so important isn’t it? Otherwise it can get out of control. Maybe try getting rain checks so you can benefit from the same great space at a later date!

  5. July 3, 2017 / 9:15 am

    Yes I can definitely save more money by buying more things in bulk – I have the space for it, I just have to declutter it first… Because it’s piled up with decoration items and toys we don’t really use anymore. Couponing is not a thing in The Netherlands, so I’ll just have to check the weekly ads for sales. Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • July 3, 2017 / 9:30 am

      Having a space for it is so so important otherwise it can get very overwhelming! Thanks for reading Anne!

  6. July 3, 2017 / 10:25 am

    Coupons rarely ever save me money either. I can save more on buying the “store brand” and the coupons always want me to buy 3 or 4 of something I don’t need or won’t use to save $.50 – not a bargain to me. I would love to see a follow-up to the coupon shows too. They never buy actual “food” – meat, milk, fresh veggies. That’s where we spend most of our money is on the darn meat. Although our store has started doing buy one get one free on some packages of meat and I always take advantage of that. Now THAT’S a bargain. And what’s up with the extreme coupon people and vitamin water? How much vitamin water can a family drink anyways? LOL

    • July 3, 2017 / 12:51 pm

      Agreed. Coupons appear to get you a deal but often they’re just encouraging you to buy stuff you don’t really need. I’m really jealous about the 2-1 on meat! That’s an AWESOME deal and great way to stockpile your freezer.

  7. July 3, 2017 / 10:29 am

    I love these tips! I am always finding a coupon or a deal to save money. I have never stockpiled (I have no where to put any), but once I have a bigger house, I definitely want to try this out!

    • July 3, 2017 / 12:52 pm

      Thanks for reading Kristen. It’s a great way to save money on staples like paper products and detergents! Often times, you don’t even need a coupon if you’re vigilant of when stuff goes on sale!

  8. July 3, 2017 / 10:57 am

    Love this post so much! I think you reinforce the big thing for me…which is buying what you NEED! I am really into buying only the things I need, and setting up a nice stock pile…on sale and/or with a coupon of course. 😉

    • July 3, 2017 / 12:54 pm

      Absolutely! I tend to only stock up on the things we need. When it comes to food (post about that coming soon) I’m very careful because I HATE food waste and try to avoid it as much as possible. Thanks for reading!

  9. July 3, 2017 / 11:21 am

    ohmygosh i am fascinated by couponers. this is SO COOL!

    • July 3, 2017 / 12:55 pm

      Couponers are interesting for sure. I’m interested in them too because I don’t really agree with the whole buy it because it’s cheap philosophy!

  10. July 3, 2017 / 11:49 am

    Great post! I myself am preparing to start couponing. I love the fact that I can save more money and get the things we need!

    • July 3, 2017 / 12:56 pm

      Yup! If done correctly you can save a ton of money! Best of luck and thanks for reading Brigette!

  11. July 3, 2017 / 11:51 am

    I started stock piling when we had started looking for a house over a year and a half ago. We wanted to cut down our expenses and get a mortgage. We didn’t have a lot of space so I wasn’t able to stock pile much but now it’s habit. Even if I’m purchasing 6 months worth of washing liquid, I only ever purchase what I’m going to use. I detest waste so I’m not a big fan of those stock piling shows. I’m pretty sure that studies have shown that when you get a bargain or save money to that extent while shopping it releases endorphins in your body, which explains why people do it to the extreme. I think that’s akin to promoting and glamourising a shopping addiction. That’s my two cents. :p

    • July 3, 2017 / 12:58 pm

      This is so so important. I know pretty much how much of any item we need and use. When it comes to detergents and paper products I don’t necessarily feel that you can over buy because eventually I will use it. Food items is another story altogether. I find it incredibly wasteful to buy say 600 can of beans when the shelf life will expire way earlier than you could potentially consume it. And, I absolutely agree that in some cases if you’re not careful couponing and “Stocking” up can feed that want cycle!

  12. July 3, 2017 / 12:16 pm

    I’m a coupon newbie and have always dreamed of having a gorgeous stockpile like this one! Thanks for the info!

    • July 3, 2017 / 12:59 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read!

  13. July 3, 2017 / 1:10 pm

    Thank you for the post! The idea of a specific stockpile has been floating around my head for a couple months but I didn’t know where to start. You are a lifesaver!

    • July 3, 2017 / 3:34 pm

      Thank you so much for reading! Glad you liked the post! Hopefully it gives you a good framework to start stockpiling goodies for yourself.

  14. July 3, 2017 / 2:49 pm

    This is a great article I wish I had more time to dedicate to stockpiling. I am referring my cousin to your site , as she has a massed a stock pile and I think she could use your tips!!!

    • July 3, 2017 / 3:35 pm

      Thanks for reading Jen! 🙂

  15. July 3, 2017 / 4:27 pm

    This is all such rich information. Love the stockpiling idea and using coupons to make it happen. We would love to do it more if our small space allowed for it!

    • July 3, 2017 / 5:27 pm

      Space is such an issue isn’t it? Thanks for reading and popping in Marilyn.

    • July 3, 2017 / 9:20 pm

      Hit send by accident. I simply don’t have the space to do this sense we have a small, one bedroom apartment. :/

  16. July 4, 2017 / 12:32 am

    I wish I had more room to stockpile, but my apartment won’t hold too much. Maybe I could do this on a smaller scale!

    • July 4, 2017 / 6:44 am

      You can absolutely tailor this on a smaller scale. My advice is always to focus on stocking laundry detergent first. Paper products tend to go on sale often enough that getting your hands on them on a regular basis isn’t nearly as difficult.

  17. July 4, 2017 / 6:04 am

    I love that programme. It’s pretty addictive! But often I think there are lots of things they don’t need and they can donate it elsewhere

    • July 4, 2017 / 6:45 am

      Yup. I wish they’d do some sort of follow up to let us see what happens to all those goods!

  18. July 4, 2017 / 7:33 am

    YES!!! We do this! Not to this level exactly, but like when our favorite PB goes bogo, we will literally buy 20-30 since its like only paying fro 10-15!

    • July 4, 2017 / 7:35 am

      thanks for reading Rachel! Glad to meet another fellow stockpiler!

  19. Sarah
    July 4, 2017 / 8:19 am

    This post was very informative for someone like my who’s interested in stockpiling and saving money. But how does one get past the overwhelmed feeling of getting started?

    • July 4, 2017 / 8:20 am

      This is a great question. My suggestion would be to prioritize 3 household items and start with those.

  20. July 4, 2017 / 9:25 am

    I actually did always wonder if the extreme coupon folks would ever find a use for some of the stuff they bought, they do find some amazing deals.

    • July 4, 2017 / 9:36 am

      They sure do! Yet, unless the are donating it I doubt they can consume it all – food especially.

  21. July 4, 2017 / 9:33 am

    Great ideas! This was a really good reminder to me that often is makes more sense to spend more in order to save in the long run!

    • July 4, 2017 / 9:35 am

      Yup! When it comes to certain products it’s absolutely worth it to spend a little more money right now to save in the long run!

  22. July 4, 2017 / 9:42 am

    Great tips and a good reminder. My husband usually buys tons of toilet paper when it’s on sale, however we haven’t dedicated a specific area to stock piling and I know if we did we would be smarter with stock pile shopping. That a new item for our to-do list! Thanks 🙂

    • July 4, 2017 / 9:42 am

      Thanks for sharing Yolanda! Toilet paper is such a great start!

  23. July 4, 2017 / 12:40 pm

    These are great ideas! It’s so hard to find tips that you can implement in Canada, everything out there seems geared towards US shopping methods. I’ve been trying to find new ways of saving money, as now we have a lot of student debt to pay back! Thanks!

    • July 4, 2017 / 12:43 pm

      Agreed. Coupons are basically non-existent here. Well, good useful coupons anyway. The only thing that seems to work for me is stockpiling these essentials when they go on sale.

  24. ains1014
    July 4, 2017 / 12:47 pm

    I do enjoy stockpiling and of course saving money on things that can be outrageously priced! This is such an informative post, I find that I can only spend on stockpiling maybe once every other month because I just don’t have it in the budget. I don’t know why, but I never would’ve thought to set aside a small amount of cash each week and I LOVE that! I am going to start doing that starting this coming paycheck!

    • July 4, 2017 / 12:49 pm

      Awww so glad you found it helpful. I’ve read a gazillion stockpiling posts and they all seem to neglect or overlook the fact that most people don’t have the extra cash laying around to just start doing this out of the blue ya know? Saving a little every week even 5$ is a great way to gain some momentum! Thanks for reading!

    • July 4, 2017 / 1:32 pm

      Thanks for reading:)

  25. July 4, 2017 / 11:26 pm

    A very helpful and relevant post! I have started a sort of stockpile, but mine are items for emergencies…flashlights, batteries, first aid kit, extra water, that sort of thing. I am buying a little at a time and keeping them in my old cedar chest.

    • July 5, 2017 / 6:52 am

      This is such a great idea! Thanks for reading!

  26. July 5, 2017 / 6:50 am

    Great post full of great tips!

    • July 5, 2017 / 6:51 am

      Thanks for reading Lynne! Welcome to TTBH.

  27. July 5, 2017 / 8:54 am

    Thanks for sharing! I wanted to start a stockpile before I went on maternity leave with my son. A year is a long time to live on less than half your regular income so it would have saved a lot of stress if I had actually done it! Next time I will be refering to this to help me get started!

    • July 5, 2017 / 8:58 pm

      It’s never too late to start!!

  28. July 5, 2017 / 9:39 am

    I’m with you, i always wondered how these ladies did it, but I’m not gonna buy crap just for the sake of it. On post here in CO they have caselot sales and i do go to those to buy extra of the stuff i use. It’s a total money saver!

    • July 5, 2017 / 8:54 pm

      YES! I wonder how useful what they buy is ya know? Caseload deals are awesome!!

  29. July 5, 2017 / 11:27 am

    I am so thrilled to have found your site! (Through the Blogging with Heart FB group). This was an incredibly helpful post. I tend to buy in bulk, but by bulk I mean 3. I’ve never tried this stockpiling approach, but it definitely makes sense! I am one of those people who recycle the circulars immediately…you’ve convinced me to start looking through them 🙂 I’ve just subscribed to your site. I look forward to more tips!

    • July 5, 2017 / 8:52 pm

      My heart!!!!!! Those circulars are my lifeline to save dough!! Thanks for stopping by Paula! Welcome to TTBH, I hope you’ll be back to visit soon.

  30. July 5, 2017 / 1:42 pm

    Thank you for the tips! I love the idea of stock piling and your story about the toilet paper made me think of my grandpa, i swear he had 3 closets full of just toilet paper!

    • July 5, 2017 / 8:50 pm

      We totally looked ridiculous 😂

  31. July 5, 2017 / 2:20 pm

    Very savvy going to multiple stores to bypass the max allowed per customer! Why did I never think of it?!

    • July 5, 2017 / 8:50 pm

      Hahaha it’s the only way to stock up!

  32. July 5, 2017 / 6:40 pm

    These are really well thought out tips and ideas! I love the concept of building a stockpile, I just need the space to store everything. Living in an apartment makes things a little tight, but perhaps above our washer/dryer!

    • July 5, 2017 / 8:45 pm

      When we lived in the apartment we used closets to store it! It is tricky though because most of these items take up a good amount of space.

  33. July 6, 2017 / 12:47 am

    I pay close attention to deals at our local dollar store. I’m in a Facebook group where people post the deals they find, which helps me to know what to look for, although my store doesn’t always get what other stores do. They had 4 packs of Crest toothpaste for $2 recently, which was a great deal. The deals can be pretty random, but so good.

  34. July 6, 2017 / 9:09 am

    I used to watch Extreme Couponers with the same level of awe, and always wondered the same thing about whether they actually used the stuff or were just obsessed with having lots of it. I always wanted to see someone walk out of the store with a flat of cereal or whatever they bought, and go donate it to a food bank/homeless shelter. Seems like the perfect opportunity to do that!

  35. Teresa
    July 6, 2017 / 9:37 am

    I have been looking into stockpiling for the longest time. I’d love to save money, and have a closet full of everything I need. We live in a small apartment so sadly I can’t store too much, but as soon as we move into our home, it’s definitely something I want to start doing.

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