Learning To Coupon Series
Storing Your Couponing Hauls
Keep it neat, organized, and safe!
Once you’ve started couponing, you may begin to develop an overstock of things. Buying items that are on sale in larger quantities really helps save money in the long run (See Using Coupons to Stockpile and Should I Stockpile Purchase for more reading material on building up a stockpile of items.)
So if you have started growing a stockpile, what now? How in the world can you keep up with all of this stuff? I feel your pain. I was there once, too. And it was almost overwhelming. We had things stored under our bed, in closets, kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, and in boxes stacked in the corner of the living room. It was horrifying!
Then I put my retail experience to work. Things are stored all nice and neat on shelves in stores, so why not in my house, right?
Well, here are some things to keep in mind when it comes time to start getting your coupon hauls organized. Everyone has their own preferences, so I’ll share mine with you. Find a method that works for you, for your space, and tweak things until it’s just the way you want it.
Shelving Is Your Friend
If you really want to be able to easily get to things and keep them well organized, shelving is the way to go, in my opinion. It allows you to store things just like they do on the shelves in the grocery store. Finding shelving can be a little bit of a task, but it’s so worth it. Of course, you can buy shelving on Amazon or from a local hardware store, but that can get expensive quick. The way I acquired my shelving took more time, but it cost a TON less. The department store I was working for was being remodeled. In the process, several older rolling racks and shelving units were being thrown away. I was able to buy these for next to nothing. I’m talking $2.50 – $5 each! Now it was spread out, so I didn’t have them all at one time. First is was just one shelf for a while, then another one became available, then another, and so on. We lived in a smaller house when I first started stockpile couponing, so we were overrun with stuff. A shelving unit was in the kitchen, and one was in our bedroom. Yes, in our bedroom. We also had cases and cases of canned vegetables stacked in a corner of the living room. But now that we’ve moved into a bigger house, it’s so nice to have plenty of shelving and to have everything well organized and in one central location. It’s a constant work in progress, of course, but not the eye sore and jumbled mess it once was.
Check for stores that may be closing or remodeling in your area. It’s a great way to get your hands on shelving for super cheap. You will need to clean them well, and maybe even have to paint them. Some places will just give away old shelving and some will want a few dollars for them. It may take a while and they may not all be exactly the same. But you could paint them all to be the same color, at least. And it will save you a ton of cash.
I didn’t like this method, I guess because I’m a visible kind of guy and I like things neatly organized. But some people store their stuff in big plastic storage totes. If you can’t get shelving, this may be a good alternative. If you go this route, be sure to label the contents and use clear totes if possible. They stack well, for the most part. But remember, they usually don’t seal off well, so storing these in a moist place could be a disaster and leave you with mildew and mold issues.
Store Smart and Safe
No matter how you are storing your stockpile, this is a key point to remember. If you use some items less than others, they don’t need to be in the way of the items you use often. If using totes, the ones on top should be items you use most often. If using shelves, the chest or eye level is your sweet spot for the most used items. Be sure you don’t store liquid items above dry items, I suggest liquid items be at the very bottom. If a leak develops, you don’t want it ruining everything below it. Chemicals away from food! Don’t store chemicals above food or where it could come into contact with food. I don’t think that macaroni will taste very good with laundry detergent dripped into it!
If you are stacking in totes, don’t stack them too high and don’t fill them too heavy. You’ll need to be able to easily lift and move them. And stacking them high could be a topple hazard. You do not want to come home from work one day and find that your leaning tower of totes has collapsed. Heavier items at the bottom will give more stability and not crush totes.
If you’re using shelving (yay!), be sure to use the same guide, heavier items at the bottom, chemicals away from food. I keep cleaning products at the very bottom, and you should too. Also, if your shelves aren’t sturdy, don’t stack them too heavy. You don’t want them to collapse. If you’re able, it’s always a good idea to anchor shelving to the wall. That’s not an option for us, but my shelves are good, sturdy metal ones, so it’s not an issue.
The key thing to remember here is that you want your items stored where they won’t fall and where they won’t contaminate each other.
The First In First Out Rule
However you decide to organize your stockpile, keep this important rule in mind and follow it. The “first in first out rule” is basically putting new purchases behind the old purchases so that you are using the oldest items first. I pay special attention to expiration dates and keep the items closer to expiring in the front, so we can use them first. Nothing breaks my heart more than having something expire before it can be used. Which brings me to my next suggestion.
Find Places to Donate
It’s going to happen at some point in your couponing life. You’re going to find a great deal, have the coupons to match up with it, and buy a ton of something and not be able to use it all. This is where paying it forward works great. Keep a list of places you could donate to and the types of items they will be looking for. Check for battered women shelters, children’s homes, food pantries, charity thrift stores, animal rescues, and things like that in your area. It’s also great to help families in your area that have a house fire, flood, or other catastrophe. Take them a care package of things and show them that people do care. And don’t be stingy, especially with free or almost free items. If your mom needs toothpaste or toilet paper, give her some if she visits and asks! It’s the least we can do for our parents, right?
I hope this article has helped you come up with ideas on how you will store your couponing hauls. Be safe, be neat, be organized, and enjoy! I’d love to see pictures of your progress if you want to share them on my Facebook Page.
This post is part of the Learning To Coupon series. Be sure to check them all out! The purpose of these posts will be to teach you about couponing, give you some of my personal insights and tips, but mostly to encourage you. Be sure to stay tuned, and never be afraid to ask me for advice or help.
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