Guest Blogger: Darla DeMorrow, Certified Professional Organizer ®.
There are all sorts of reasons you might need to get organized. One of the most common is going through piles, stacks, and bins of extra personal and household product that you have “just in case”. These backups usually don’t have emotional meaning for us. They are extras that we’ve gotten so that we won’t be without a particular type of product.
In theory, it makes sense. We usually stock up for three reasons:
1. We got a good deal on it. There was a coupon or a sale, and how could we pass it up? Some people specialize in extreme couponing, but most of us don’t.
2. We feel like it’s a critical product that we can’t live without, and there is no amount of this product that could ever be “too much”. That’s toilet
paper for me.
3. We can never seem to find it when we need it, and so we ALWAYS buy extra when we’re in the store, no matter what.
We buy and store all sorts of backups like:
clothes (for sizes we were or will be)
detergent and cleaning supplies)
paper and office supplies
personal supplies, like shampoo
This stockpiling of backups, however, doesn’t actually make a lot of sense most of the time, and can actually cause more problems than the calamities that
we are trying to avoid.
None of us are in danger of running out of anything critical, with the possible exceptions of medications. Really, most of us can get to a major shopping center within a few minutes. Most of us are stockpiling with no clear plan for why we are doing it. Unlike”preppers” (someone who plans for end-of-the-world doomsday scenarios) who have clear plans for what they need, how long it would last them in dire situations, that’s not what most of us are doing when we stock up.
I often play a little game with myself and my shampoo. When the bottle is 3/4 empty, I start making mental plans to replace it. But in reality, that quarter of the bottle might last me another month or so. I might get to Target six times before I actually run out. And when it does run out, I spend I couple of days using up my trial sizes
before I’ll finally go buy new. See? The disaster never really happens.
There are many benefits of not keeping lots of backups for readily available items:
Spending less money throughout the year
Opening up storage space in your home
Having the option to try new products as they come out on the market, instead of waiting until you use up your stockpile
Having less waste, as product won’t expire, rust, or fall apart. Even things that seem shelf stable, like
laundry detergent, has a shelf life.
Virtually eliminating the risk that an older product will make you sick or harm you. Older products can breed bacteria, which can lead to infection. This is certainly true of makeup and personal care products as well, especially if they are partially used. Here’s a good list of 77 surprising expiration dates.
So the next time you are tempted to pick up another item at the store “just in case”, play along with me and think about your backup plan. It might
surprise you how long you can go without adding to your stockpile, and how much money you can save in the bargain.