Keeping Tabs on Your Overstock Items

Photo: Not enough paper towels…

You know when you go into a store and you think to yourself, “I can save 50 cents on toothpaste. Better buy two,” I’m the one who thinks, “I’m buying six.” It’s not so much about saving money as it is about knowing I’m now fully stocked up on toothpaste for the foreseeable future.

Maybe this sort of post isn’t for everyone. But if you’re the kind of person who goes to Costco and thinks, “Is 20 rolls of paper towels enough,” you just might understand where I’m coming from here.

I’m the kind of person who overstocks daily-use items. I never used to be, but I blame…er, credit, marriage for making me this way.

When I lived on my own, I’d grab a roll or two of paper towels at the grocery store and call it a day. Now? I bet there’s no less than 12 stocked up in the upper part of my kitchen cabinets as I type this. And when it gets down to 10, I’ll probably buy more.

In one of my earlier blog posts, “What to Give as a Housewarming Gift,” I suggest items like plungers, buckets, and mops. The kinds of things you don’t want to find out you need when you actually need them. I take a similar stance with frequently used items like dish soap, hand soap, paper towels, sponges, detergent, and cleaning supplies. Thankfully my wife does the same thing with shampoos, toothpastes, and contact solution.

So, what’s the best way to keep tabs? Normally, whenever I tap into the reserves, I have a visual reminder of how much longer I can go before needing a re-stock. This isn’t extreme couponing or anything. Instead, I set a mental number of how many I consider to be enough, and normally replenish when I have 25% left. Which really means, I’ll keep forgetting until I’m at 10%.

Fair warning though: I don’t know what it is, but when you run out of something you thought you had fully stocked, it feels like the stock-up wasn’t that long ago. “I just bought some!” you might say, when in fact it was 14 months ago. There’s definitely something up with that space-time continuum around household items.