Stockpiling: How much is too much?

Yesterday in my “Couponing A to Z” post, I posted about coupon clipping services.  I got some interesting comments and e-mails.  Some people were apparently questioning my comment about buying 10 to 20 coupons to stock up on items when there is a great sale.  Comments were also made about being a “shelf clearer.”

For the record, I want to clarify that I do not EVER advocate being a shelf clearer, nor do I ever clear the shelves in stores.  When I am buying multiple items when there is a good sale, I often visit multiple stores across multiple days or make arrangements with the management in advance  to get the items that I am looking for.

While I do not advocate clearing shelves, I definitely believe in and encourage people to develop a stockpile.  Our family has been through two different lay-offs as well as some other situations where finances have been tight and our stockpile has helped us get through those times.  On a weekly basis, I am able to keep our grocery expenses lower because I am able to use items in our stockpile to feed our family.

So, that leads me to the question:  How much is too much when it comes to stockpiling?

Here are my thoughts:

1.  The think the size of a stockpile will vary based on a family’s size and needs.  I think “too much” is when you have a stockpile that is significantly above and beyond what your family could reasonably use in 6 months to one year’s time, which covers the shelf life of most non-perishable items.

2.  A stockpile is “too much” when you are unable to maintain it.  If you don’t have the space for your stockpile and cannot organize it, then there is a strong likelihood that you will not be able to appropriately rotate and use the items in your stockpile.

3.  A stockpile is “too much” when you have large quantities of items that your family does not use on a regular basis or will never use.  For example, if your family doesn’t eat ketchup or mustard and you have 80 bottles in your stockpile, it is probably “too much.”

What are your thoughts?  How much is “too much” when it comes to stockpiling?  You may also want to check out this article I wrote about Extreme Couponing:  Stockpiling vs. Hoarding for more of my thoughts on this topic!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information


  1. Kristina McCurley says:

    I completely agree with your distinction between stockpiling and hoarding.

    Yes – I only have a family of 3 and I have 13 tubes of toothpaste and 45 sets of razors. However, I know exactly what is in my stockpile and I plan to make a large donation in November. My husband and I have a few single guy friends who come and “shop” the personal care and household items. I push boxes of cereal or things that might expire on them so that someone will use it in case we don’t get to it. I learned a valuable lesson in my early days of couponing – buscuits expire quickly!! I got so sick of having them every Sunday for weeks trying to prevent wasting them.

    My DH was very concerned about “hoarding” after watching TLC’s Extreme Couponing but I assured him that my plan was to have enough of our own stockpile to last 1 year for non-perishables- anything above and beyond that was going to be donated. This allows me to continue to have fun shopping and saving money (’cause let’s be honest, if it wasn’t fun we probably wouldn’t do it) while still helping my community.

    • Kristina –

      It sounds like we’re on the same page here! I love being able to donate things to our local food banks and to other drives and programs.

  2. rachael says:

    too much is when you have to store your stuff under your daughters’ bed…
    also… when you totally clear out the shelf.. or buy 10000 pills… a lot of that stuff has expiration dates… get what you need with your coupons.. don’t over do it

  3. My hubby set up rules similar to this when I started couponing. I know I am having a holiday open house so I have been using lots of coupons for wheat thins and triscuts. I also send things to my on in college like contact lens solution, body wash deodorant. Things I know him and his fiancee can use. I am also making a large donation to our local food bank in Nov/Dec. As long as i do that DH doesn’t complain. TOO MUCH

  4. Janelle S says:

    well, I just started. My plan is to do bacically what you said, get a stockpile to have my family of 7 set for at least 6 months. After that I plan to give back to the community, or to friends and family who need it. I have already talked to my husband about this too.

  5. Kristina Waldrop says:

    I think you can never have enough stuff no matter how big or small the family is… if you use it and its on sale buy them out if you have too dont worry about others because in this economy no one worrys about you, so look out for you and yours only thats the way i see it:) …. Times are hard for everyone now a days and i see it as first come first serve..that mightt be rude but Ive wentt to “sold out” stores and never cared i was just happy the person before me got a chance to buy it… every little bit helps us all

  6. I think it is enough to have 3 months of items you use alot of and to stockpile things like toothpaste that you know your family will use for more than that. You can always donate to the food bank any items you don’t need. Sales usually are in 3 month cycles. It annoys me when I get to the store with my coupons planning to buy only 4 or 5 of an item to see the shelves cleared. I often have to get rain checks to take advantage of the sale and then may miss out on stacking the coupon too.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I just recently started my stockpile. I have a small one but its growing. I dont over buy. The most I will buy of one item is 4 and most of my stockpile is not food. I set out to coupon to save money on laundry detergent, beauty items, healthcare stuff. That leaves me more money to spend on our grocery bill and diapers as I have 2 children in them. I LOVE couponing and I couldnt do it without your site! Thanks for all you do and all your advice!