Why Stockpiling is Not Just for Survivalists & Doomsday Preppers
When most people hear the word “stockpile” they think of old black and white movies and ammunition or modern day survivalists hoarding guns and huge bags of rice and beans, preparing for the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) or for when some major catastrophie happens (also known as when the shit or stuff hits the fan or WTSHTF). And unfortunately survivalists and preppers have, for the most part, gotten a bad rap and unfair reputation as being “nutty” or extreme and for this reason the average person does not take them seriously. But this is a serious warning to anyone who does not take rising food, toiletry, and clothing prices seriously and who does not feel stocking up, on as much as you can afford and store at one time, is a good idea. We recently did a comparison of grocery, toiletry, and clothing prices now and 6-12 months ago (most are from 6 months ago). The prices are full prices (not sale prices) from the same store or website/seller for each comparison. Prices are from lower NY (Long Island). This is just a small sampling of what we found:
Campbell’s Pork-n-Beans 11 oz can was .63 cents, now .73 cents
Morning Star Farm 4-pack Chicken or Veggie Burgers was $4.69, now $5.99
Ritz Crackers (4 sleeves) was $3.89, now $4.99
Swiss Miss 10-pk was $2.49, now $2.89
Ground Beef 80%-85% lean, was averaging $2.99 lb with sale prices at $1.99, now $3.99 to $4.99 with sale prices at $2.99 lb
Idaho Baking Potatoes were $1.59, now $1.79 to $1.99 a pound
Lee or Levi’s Blue Jeans, were $24.95 to $32.99, now $34.95 to $46.95
Hane’s 3 pack of Men’s Briefs (plain white), were $8.99, now $12.99
Toilet Paper was averaging .59 cents per roll, now .79 cents
Suave Shampoo & Conditioner was .99 cents to $1.29, now $1.79 to $2.29
Coast Bar Soap 3-pk was $2.29, now $2.69
Hanes Women’s Sport Bra (white) was 2 for $10.47, now $14.00
Romain Lettuce, 3 head pack (Dole or Foxy brand) was $2.49 to $2.99, now $3.50 to $3.99
Similar price increases can be found for hundreds of different items we all need and use daily.
Only fresh veggies and fruits are “seasonal” which means the time of year is no excuse for the rise in prices for the other items. These are just a few examples. What this translates to is the average weekly grocery bill for a family of 4 has risen $40 to $60 per week in the last 6 to 12 months. The increase in the cost of clothing, especially if you have growing children, is worse, it’s truly sickening.
We can’t emphasize this enough – when you find items (that you use or need regularly) on sale, at the lowest sale prices you can realistically imagine, you should buy as much as you can, keeping the following guidelines in mind:
* Is it the lowest price typically found in recent sales? If yes, buy.
* Calculate how much you use per month or per year for sale items, check expiration dates, buy as much as you can afford and have room to store, keep expiration dates and how much you’ll use in mind.
* If it’s clothing, you should feel overly confident the item will fit you (or someone in your family) in a year or more for underwear & socks, 2 to 20 years for shirts, pants, outerwear and shoes.
* Go out of your way to make room for your stockpile. Make a food and toiletries pantry in your home out of closets, bedrooms not being used, or your basement. Store food in your attic if that’s the only place you can. Just make sure the area you use to store has the right conditions (temperature and humidity) for what you are storing and all food is protected from bugs & varments.
* If you live in a flood zone make sure your pantry stockpile is on a top floor, in plastic bins if possible. Try to keep foods stored in plastic bins for long term, or if critters may get into them, and to protect from the elements. Very often you can find people giving away plastic bins for free on Craigslist’s free section. This link to Craigslist is for NY, but once there you can change to any state and area. Then click on the “free” link (under the “for sale” section) and search the free classifieds, where people truly give away things for free.
Here’s an example of practical and intelligent stockpiling of pasta when it’s on sale:
Your family of 4 eats pasta twice a week. If you follow the serving size suggested on the typical box of pasta that means your family consumes 52 boxes per year. If you eat more than the suggested serving size then your family may easily consume over 100 boxes of pasta per year. It doesn’t matter if it’s spaghetti, ziti, penne, stars, elbow or bow tie pasta, what ever.
52 boxes is a very conservative estimate since most people eat twice the serving suggestion, especially if you can’t afford to add meat or lots of veggies, you’ll inevitably eat more pasta. You might serve your pasta with meat (maybe chicken parmesan or scampi) and therefore eat less pasta. Some days you’ll eat your pasta with lots of veggies (pasta primavera) and a little butter or cheese sauce, and those veggies added will fill you up, so you eat less pasta. But sometimes you’ll just eat your pasta with tomatoe sauce (with or w/o cheese), as ziti or lasagna, or just plan pasta and sauce. Which is usually when you end up eating twice as much as the recommend serving size.
So, the minimum number of boxes of pasta to buy (for the average family of four) is 52 boxes per year, but in reality a family of 4 probably consumes 75 to 104 boxes per year.
> First, find pasta on sale at .50 cents per 16 oz box, down from the current $1.29 to $1.79 per box (which will soon be over $2 per box or more, if things keep going as they are).
> The pasta that’s on sale should expire in just over 2 years (typical of what you should find on the shelves). Keep in mind it’s best to eat items at least one full month before the expiration date.
> You should buy a minimum of 1 year’s supply of pasta at the conservative estimate of 52 boxes. If you’re sure your family will go through more than one box of pasta per week, buy more. We suggest a family of 4 buy 75 boxes for each year, according to the expiration date. If the pasta that’s on sale is good for just over two years and your family eats 2 boxes per week, we suggest buying 150 boxes of pasta if it’s at a rock bottom price when you can get it. In NY, for example, Ronzoni goes on sale for that price once or twice a year. But this sale price, which use to be very common, is quickly becoming a rarity, as most Ronzoni sales are now about .75 cents a box. In lower NY, .50 cents is the cheapest we’ve seen a box of any quality pasta for the last 5 or so years. And that’s a savings of well over $100, or more likely about $170, just on pasta, when taking into consideration the rate food prices are rising.
Normally we say buy your sale items supply 3 to 6 months at a time for most food items, but since the price of groceries is rising so fast we’re now changing our recommendations to as much as you will use within the time frame dictated by when a food item expires.
For items that last indefinitely (sugar, salt, toilet paper, bar soap, shampoo, laundrey detergent, clothes, etc.) we suggest buying as much as you can afford and store, even if it’s a 20 or 40 year supply. If you have the money to buy it, if you have the room to store it in a way that it is protected from being destroyed by animals, bugs, or the environment, and if it’s on sale, buy it, buy it, buy it.
For over the counter medications you know you use regularly, treat them the same way you do food; buy what you know you’ll use when it’s on sale, depending on the expiration date. For prescription medication, always ask your doctor to write prescriptions for 3 months at a time. Not only is this a good way to save money (one co-pay for 3 months), it’s also a good idea for emergencies – if there’s a natural disaster so large that you can’t get to a pharmacy right away, you’ll hopefully have your 3 month supply (that’s if you make a kit and follow an emergency plan). And always keep your prescriptions up to date, purchase refills as soon as your finances and insurance policies will allow, even if you’re not completely out of the medication. Having extra on hand, that you know you’ll eventually use, is always a smart idea. Always keep as much as you can on hand.
Stock piling what you know you’ll consume or use is also a great idea for protection during an emergency. We call this Emergency Preparedness. The emergency can be personal (loss of your job, death of the bread winner in the family), economic disasters (the cost of doing business or transporting goods can triple for many reasons and then so will prices), or it can be an emergency that affects everyone and everything, like hurricanes, earthquakes, black outs, or worse. Offices of all local, state, and federal governments also recommend stocking up on all “must have” items.
Some people might say saving $100 to $150 is not worth loosing all the space it would take to store 150 boxes of pasta. And to those people we say, think again. Think about what $150 will buy you – 3 to 4 tanks of gas, if you have health insurance it may be the co-pay for 7 prescriptions, if you don’t have health insurance it’s one prescription you really need, the cost of one visit to the doctor, the cost of one utility bill, etc.
And this is just the savings on your stock of pasta. Imagine the money you’ll save if you do this with all your “non-perishables”; bottled juice, canned fruit, canned tomatoes, beans, tuna, soups, rice, toilet paper, shampoo – just about everything you use that does not have to be refrigerated or frozen.
Save $100 on ten different things and you’ve saved enough money to buy a new washing machine or refrigerator or any number of other things you might need to buy and would not normally be able to afford.
You also might be thinking, no need to stockpile, I just make sure I watch the weekly sales and buy what’s on sale each week. If you’re thinking that, then you’re missing the point to this article. Prices are rising very rapidly, even sale prices. What was once on sale for .50 cents is now on sale for .75 cents. And, there may be a time when you can’t afford to buy it even at .75 cents, or it may not even be on the shelves when you need it. This is the reality of the 21st century.
Real World Reasons for Why You Need To Stockpile
The photo at left is a recent real world example of why everyone should stockpile “must have” items. It’s a photo of a shopper in a Waldbaum’s grocery store in New York just before hurricane Irene hit. Everything from water and milk to bread and peanut butter were wiped off the shelves in a matter of hours after the national weather service confirmed a direct hit was eminent. All grocery stores in the areas that were expected to be impacted by the storm looked the same. It took over a week for supplies to come back to normal levels. This is what happens with just the threat or warning of a natural disaster. What happens after the disaster can be much worse, and may involve emptying of shelves for anything from medicines to clothes to weapons, hardware, tools, and other household goods. This type of scenario has the realistic potential of lasting days, weeks, or even months. Think about what happened after Katrina. That can happen anywhere, and it can be much worse. But again, it does not have to be only a natural disaster that you need to protect yourself from, it can just as easily (or even more easily) be a financial disaster that affects only you and your family. Either way, stockpiling when things go on sale is always a good idea.
Even if you have your standard 3 day supply of emergency food & water (old standards by the way, some authorities now recommned 3 weeks), and even if you’re not so “hard up” for money and feel comfortable in how much money you make to cover your weekly and monthly living expenses, think about the money you can save and put in the bank for that day you get laid off or fired, or the bread winner in your family dies. Think of all the unexpected things that can happen. Don’t say it won’t happen to you. Millions of people thought that a few years ago and now thousands of them are living in their cars, in tents, and under bridges because the cost of living for them got so high they couldn’t afford their rent or mortgage any longer. This is no joke. Anyone can fall victim to this economy at any time. We should all be saving in as many ways as we can.
This article was first published on 12/30/11. This is an update for January 2012:
It’s 1/11/12 and today on a local NY news channel they announced a recent study of food pantries shows that a full 40% of New Yorkers are now deliberately spending less on food; waiting for sales and buying less food than they use to. Eating less, because they can no longer afford to eat as much as they use to. The study shows nearly half of all New Yorkers (including the average middle class New Yorkers) can no longer afford the basics they were once use to and took for granted. Why? Besides the rising cost of food, toiletries, and clothes, they’re in hock up to their eyeballs with car loans, mortgages, high property taxes, medical bills, and so much more. This problem is not limited to New York and other highly populated urban and suburban areas – it’s happening everywhere in America. This problem is NOT going away any time soon. Analysts predict it will take a minimum of 5 years, probably 10 years, before our economy recovers. Can you last that long? Can you continue at the spending rate you’re at now, knowing prices will continue to rise over the next 5 to 10 years, knowing there’s a chance you’ll loose your job, not get a job (if you’re already out of work), possibly take a pay cut, or not get a raise. We suggest you plan for the future knowing it is not going to be economically easy, and it will be easier for you.
Lastly, if there’s an item you use regularly that never goes on sale you still should consider buying as much as you can now (that won’t go bad) to protect yourself from rising prices later. Yes, buy it now, even if it’s expensive and not on sale, if it never goes on sale, because you can be sure the price will go up later, and probably sooner than later.