Sunday, January 1, 2012

Inventory and the Importance It Plays in Saving

Yesterday I mentioned about starting a new day and a new year and a new challenge to yourself of saving money.  One of the first things you need to do in developing a "Saving Mindset" is to do an inventory. 

Having an updated Inventory is more than important, it's a necessity.  The biggest way that we waste money is by overspending.  Purchasing what we already have because we don't know we have it.  How many times have you been grocery shopping and thrown something in the cart because you thought you were out of it, only to find out when you were home putting the groceries away that you already had one, if not more, of that product.  I've done it myself.  If you have an inventory, you always know what you have and how many.

Stockpiling and having an inventory of what you have go hand in hand.  You shouldn't have one without the other or you are doomed to over purchase and/or waste food.  Both of which cause money to go out of your bank account that could be used for other things such as paying down bills or putting into a savings plan.

Yes I have a stockpile and yes I have an inventory.  The best place to keep your inventory is in your coupon binder or whatever you use to store your coupons.  The thought process is that when you are in the store and you run across what you think is a great deal on canned tomatoes, before you purchase you can look at see how many you have.  If there is a great deal and you are running low on the product then by all means purchase and replenish your stockpile.  However, if it's a great deal and you have a bountiful, skip the purchase.  Remember products do have a shelf life and if you go nuts stockpiling then you will end up wasting food which is wasting your money.  You might as well roll down your car window on the way to the store and throw the money out the window because that's exactly what you would be doing in the end, in a manner of speaking.

Now, back to the inventory.  The beginning of the year is a great time to do an inventory of what you have in your stockpile, your pantry, etc.    The "etc." there means everything else such as your bathroom products, your kitchen cabinets, your cleaning supplies, your laundry supplies.  All of it.  You need an inventory of everything you have.   Now don't panic.  An inventory doesn't have to be fancy.  You can have a written one or one you type on the computer.  Whatever and however you put it together is up to you.  Mine is not fancy at all and it works perfectly for me.  I use a spreadsheet and I write it in generic terms.  For example, I don't have down that I have 4 tubs of Colgate Toothpaste and 6 tubs of Crest.  I simply have Toothpaste - 10 tubes.  Simple but lets me know what I have and how many.

One of the things that is most important to me in this blog is that you know that I practice what I preach.  So here are  few pictures of my stockpile.


It's important when you start your stockpile that you keep it organized and neat.  This way you will always easily be able to do a quick scan to identify any items you might be running low on before you head out to the store.

Use the space you have to the best of your ability and try to keep like products together.  On the top shelf I have food products and on the bottom shelf I have mostly hygiene products and some dry goods.

Now you may not have the space to create a stockpile like this, but that doesn't mean you can't create a stockpile with the space you have.  Storage bins and under the bed storage containers work perfect if you don't have the space in your basement or garage, etc.  Think outside the box on this one and use the space you have.

Once you have created your inventory, you need to keep it up to date.  In the beginning this will take you time to do and set up but as you get your stockpile going, you will find that the way you shop will change and it will be much easier and quicker to shop and update your inventory.

Another thing I want you to do when doing your inventory is to make a clear decision on what you need/want versus what you don't need/want.  Do you have food items that are past their expiration date?  Get rid of them.  Do you have too many of some items, donate them to someone you know who is in financial distress or to a homeless shelter or a food bank, etc.  I went through my stockpile and found a few things that I had purchased to try and didn't care for that much and a few items that I have purchased way too many of.  Now these items for me were cleaning products and personal hygiene products (went a little overboard with the free Johnson Baby Shampoo way back when) so I donated all of these items to a dear friend whose family is in financial distress.  I always try to give to someone I know first.  My rule of thumb on giving things away or donations, etc. is family first, then friends, then neighbors, then agencies.  That's just me.  Do whatever works for you.

Once you have your inventory you will have accomplished, or at least partially completed, a standard listing of the products you use better known as a Shopping List.  Having a shopping list is one of the first things I tell people they need to create when they start out on the track of saving money using coupons, etc.  Doing this inventory will get you part of the way there.  We'll talk more about the Shopping List this week.

Make every effort to get this inventory done this week.  Remember, we are starting off the year fresh on our goal to saving money and starting with an inventory is the best way to go!


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