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What Do I Do With This Stockpile?

Guest post by Alison

As much as I love getting free to cheap products, there comes a point when I’ve just simply got too much stuff. When I open my cabinets and closets, and toothpaste falls on my head or a shampoo bottle hits my foot, it’s probably a good sign that I might be going overboard.

Sure, I can give my mom the tenth bottle of laundry detergent I’ve given her in a month or give a friend the seventh bar of soap I’ve passed onto her in a week, but at some point, they start to question my sanity. So the question is, what do I do with some of this stuff?

Donate to a local organization.

More than ever, local charities are hurting and in desperate need of a myriad of items, many of which we’ve been able to stockpile. Check out their websites or give them a call to see what items they’re most in need of. Homeless shelters, rescue missions, women and children’s shelters and pet rescues are all great places to check.

While it takes a little more time, I like to thoroughly sort out which organizations need which items. I could throw everything in a box and bring it to the nearest charity or shelter, but I prefer to sort through the items. The homeless shelter probably doesn’t have a high demand for Pediasure, but the local Shade Tree definitely does. The rescue mission isn’t in dire need of cat food, but the cat rescue can definitely benefit.

Set aside items to pack shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Last year was the first year I participated in Operation Christmas Child, and I bought items right before Christmas. This meant not only did I pay full price for most items, I wasn’t able to pack as many boxes as I would have liked.

This year, I’ve learned to plan ahead and stock up during Target clearance and other coupon deals. It’s not even the middle of the year and I’ve got an entire box full of toys, school supplies and hygiene items set aside just for this purpose.

Reach out to those in your church, neighborhood or community.

You might be surprised of the needs that go unmet even in our own communities. You can either donate these items to individuals and families or even arrange a swap.

I may not need any more baby wipes, but there might be someone who does that has some extra Excedrin that I need. I would always rather items go to someone who can use them than have them sitting in my closet collecting dust.

Keep a supply of hygiene kits in your car to pass out.

This may not be the right route for everyone, but it’s one that I personally love. Get together hygiene kits with the basics and keep a case of bottled water in your car. Pass them out when you see individuals in need.

It’s amazing how much of a blessing such a small gesture can be. The things we often take for granted are some of the basic necessities in life that not everyone has access to.

Those are just a few ideas of what I do to clear some space in my house, as well as help fulfill the needs of others. I’d love to hear your ideas, too!

Alison Rutledge is a work-at-home wife, student and mother to two crazy cats. She loves the Lord, serving others, volunteering, reading, staying active and, of course, shopping for the best deals she can find.

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  • Renee says:

    I am so glad you posted this. I just watched my first episode of Extreme Couponing last night. I love to coupon myself and do it all the time and had been dying to watch this show. I was disappointed at how some of these ladies would go far beyond the extreme and yet wouldn’t give to charities. I love your ideas and would love it if some of those ladies would read this too. I do know that many of them do give, I was just shocked by the ones that don’t.

    • Ashley Lauran says:

      I completely agree with you. I understand stock piling, but some people seem like they’re saving for armagedon. When people go crazy with their huge rooms, I wonder what type of rainy day they are saving for… especially like you said, when they’re not willing to share with others.

  • I love getting things for Operation Christmas Child. We’re able to do 3 boxes a year for the same cost as 1, just by keeping a lookout for things throughout the year instead of shopping for everything in November.

    • Jen says:

      Last year we did 5 OCC boxes and it was so much fun! We’ve been doing 2-3 a year for years. This year, I like Alison, have an entire large bin filled and am starting on the second bin, and I am SO excited about how many boxes we will be able to do. I love OCC!

  • Ruth says:

    Great ideas! Some granola bars or a fast food gift card can also be tossed into the hygiene bag along with the water bottles–then handed out when needed.

  • Tracey Moore says:

    Some items like gum, snacks, hygeine are wonderful for care packages overseas! It is wonderful when troops get a package!!

  • beth says:

    I “sell” my friend a big bag of stuff each month for $5. She likes it because it is a great deal compaired to retail, and I love having a reason to pick up some extra deals! (plus she has girls and I only have boys so I get to buy so cute pink things sometimes)

  • Heather C. says:

    I love the idea to help those in need in your LOCAL area! I dont want to get into it on here but I know for a fact about helping the Red Cross etc. It doesnt work exactly like you think! 🙂
    So, helping your local community is much much better! If you are able, DO IT! 🙂 Love the idea of keeping a baggie of hygiene items in the car! We do see homeless people from time to time at intersections. What a GREAT way to give them something they can actually use. 🙂 Great tips, thank you.

  • Tricia says:

    It makes my heart smile to read this post. I love hearing of people who use couponing as a way to help others in need. As a social worker, I see people everyday who need the help that Alison is offering.

    • Yvonne says:

      There are SO MANY people in need right now and to be able to help others is a blessing that I truly hope more people do. I don’t get the kind of deals or freebies and such from extreme couponing. I just keep my eyes out in stores like Target, Krogers, CVS & Walgreens. They have amazing deals on their clearance items & I stock up on things to give to my local woman’s shelter, the homeless shelter, Toys for Tots or someone at church that may need stuff. It warms my heart when people are so happy with the items they get:)

  • ICStarzz says:

    Yay! Last year was the first time I participated in Operation Christmas Child too! These are all great ideas on what to do with some of the free stuff!
    One of the reasons I stopped watching the extreme couponing show was because it disgusted me seeing these people stock up on a garage full of things and never talked about donating. How could you not? These people rush out and buy things they don’t even need just because they can get it for free, so pay it forward and give it to someone who needs these things.
    I have just started couponing and found myself running to the store a couple weeks ago to get 2 free bags of kitty litter I don’t even need, so I could donate it to the animal shelter.
    Thanks for writing this post and reminding people that others are in need, especially with all the disasters going on, I think everyone should be making an attempt to make a difference. 🙂


  • Tina says:

    I live one mile from the OCC Warehouse in Boone, NC. Oh, how I love this ministry. What a blessing it is to children all over the world. I have several precious OCC stories, including a picture of a child holding a teddy bear one of my daughters knitted. Thank you for promoting this wonderful ministry.

  • I like this. You see the extream and there is no way they can use all that they are hoarders.. SO sad. As a mom with 5 kids we just wanna make it and be able to get good deals, not have a storage shed full. Stock is nice, but not that we would never use….

  • Jodi says:

    Where do you donate baby items like formula? I have quite a bit I can’t use

    • A women’s shelter would probably need them, or perhaps a Crisis Pregnancy Center would be able to distribute them to someone in need.

    • Lisa says:

      The local food panty would LOVE all the formula you can give them. Also crisis pregnancy centers are a good place to donate that.

    • Diane says:

      If it’s formula, I really recommend foster care. I have given to crisis pregnancy centers, too, but in general I avoid giving formula to pregnant women instead to people who must use it because it’s not their biological child.

      • Tabitha Ellison says:

        I totally agree! I used to work with foster kids and there are many babies in foster care who have no choice but to take formula and foster families could really use the help. I agree with not giving formula to pregnant women…..because if it is there it’s likely to get used. Breast milk is BEST. 🙂

      • Felicia says:

        Great idea!

    • layla says:

      Donate baby items to a Crisis Prevention Pregnancy Services location! They help new mothers choose life!

    • Amanda Crow says:

      I work at a Daycare and see several parents struggling with bringing formula for their children! Some parents can’t breastfeed! I tried very hard with my both kids and it didn’t happen and now pregnant with my third! So you might want to ask around to local Daycare’s or Churches for people who need help! Formula is really expensive!

    • jodi says:

      I will have to do some digging, Im in south florida if anyone knows of anywhere it would be greatly appreciated 🙂

      • Yvonne says:

        If you have access to a computer you can post items on Craigslist in your area. There is a section on Craigslist called “free” and you can post for free any items you have whether clothes, toys, food or such that you want to give away and people can some pick it up from you.

    • Bethany says:

      If you are looking for a place in need to donate formula, read this post about an Etheopian orphanage. They are in desperate need of supplies! You can mail your formula to someone stateside who will bring it over for you.

  • Helene says:

    Good timing. I just posted stockpile pictures the other day. Every time I mention couponing my boss says “did you see the show…” Nope I have never seen EC (don;t have cable and rarely if ever watch tv) though I have heard of it. Thanks to MSM and others I have done this since 2008 not in one shopping trip. I did like the mention about shampoo falling on your foot. I know that one well. But it has given me an abundance to give to others, especially as the end of 2008 turned into several of my friends being laid off.
    Don’t forget donations of pet items too. All those extra papers we get can go to the shelters ( instead of recycling bins and pet food to the food pantries or other organizations.

  • Holly says:

    Wouldn’t it be fun to have stockpile exchange parties!!!

  • Kayci says:

    Don’t forget to keep a decent sized stockpile for emergencies! Storms, floods earthquakes, job loss, and economic collapse, can all lead to difficult times getting food and hygiene items. Survivalists recommend keeping anywhere from 1week (bare minimum) to 3 months to 1 year’s worth of supplies on hand.

  • Ivana says:

    I am bartering some of stockpile to friends that have huge gardens for garden produce. I have a very small yard so can only put in a small garden.

  • Laura says:

    I personally LOVE having just a little extra so that i can give to those in need. It’s such a blessing to be able to do that for others.

    • cheryl says:

      I do both. I give a lot of toiletries and grocery products away. I love knowing I’m helping others and I feel I’m giving back to God, along with my tithes, since He provides the ability to get all the great deals I find. Additionally I have a nice stockpile for my family. I see no reason for a person to feel guilty for having food and HBAs set aside for their family. It’s similar to gardening and canning for the upcomng year. I think the TLC show shows extreme behavior from what I hear anyways. There are always deals so why not give to others, help make a difference & show God’s love and still set some aside for yourself?

      • I do the same as you. I have a decent stockpile for my family. I donate generously to a domestic violence shelter, and I give to family members who are out of work. I don’t make extra store runs to do it, and my 4yo loves helping me put things into the box for “mommies who don’t have a house”.

  • One thing to do….is stop buying as much stuff and leave it for others to buy.
    I know this might not be a popular idea. But I am often really frustrated, really frustrated when I go to our smaller town grocery store and the shelves on a sale that there was a coupon on, were cleaned out and we cannot even buy one tube of toothpaste. I always try to make sure to leave some and not be greedy, as that is what it amounts to. I don’t care if you are donating it, I don’t use the food bank, I don’t need to, but I love to get a deal sometimes!

    • This is in large part the reason I gave up on drugstore deals…unless you were at the store the very morning the sale started, it was almost impossible to find the stuff that was free/cheap. I hated making the trip only to find an empty shelf.

    • Marie says:

      I was going to say the same thing!

    • Crystal says:

      Yes, I definitely don’t recommend clearing shelves out. If you want to buy 30 and there are 300, go for it. But don’t buy all ten if there are only ten on the shelf.

    • cheryl says:

      Agreed, there are awlays deals so why wipe out the shelves? We should always be considerate of others. I will say though that drug stores may only have enough for one or two people in stock so it’s not always shelf clearers that are the problem.

    • Mary says:

      I agree, Martha. This is my biggest frustration. I am single and live alone, I don’t need a huge stockpile but would love to actually USE the coupons I have. I can’t count the number of times that the shelves are empty of the sale/coupon item.

      It is great to donate to charities and they certainly could use the help but please, next time you reach for 40 of something, remember that there are others that shop at that store too, and might appreciate if you left a few. Clearing the shelves is rude.

    • MrsD05 says:

      I understand everyone’s frustration with shelf clearers. I get frustrated too. I do try though to always give others the benefit of the doubt. It IS possible to build up an overwhelming stockpile by just buying a couple of each thing on sale a week. I know because I’ve been there. I stopped shopping CVS when I realized I had more than enough OTC meds, beauty items, etc to last me for well over a year and I have never been a shelf clearer or bought more than a couple of any item. I now just get everything at Publix and since I’m able to wait for a great sale I still save on the drugstore items.

    • Rita says:

      One word – RAINCHECKS. Okay that might be two words – Rain Check. With gas prices so high just ask for a rain check when there isn’t anything left on the shelf. Many stores issue rain checks without expiry dates.

      • Mary H says:

        Rain checks are great but not always the answer. Here in the Seattle area we do not have stores that routinely double coupons, but one does during specific 7 day sale periods. If I can’t get the item during that time then a rain check does not get me the doubled savings.

        Same with drug stores, only one I know of issues a rain check without a 30 day expiration and the rain checks do not preserve any register reward that is being offered. If someone has cleaned out the supply I don’t get the RR.

        • Helene says:

          Walgreens is well known for not having a lot in stock. The only time I didn’t have a problem was several years ago with the Skippy peanut butter sale. The manager brought out cases of them (now I only bought three I think, single-NOT cases.

          • Jen says:

            The Walgreens near me sometimes doesn’t get all their stock out but if you ask, they will check. Also, CVS will give rainchecks and even told me one time that they would issue the extra bucks for the item! The only drawback there is if your coupon is expiring right away. Otherwise I think it’s pretty cool of them!

          • Allison says:

            Also, rain checks don’t work for register reward items at Walgreens. (You can get an rain check for the sale price, but not for the register reward itself.)

        • Amy says:

          CVS rainchecks never expire, and you will get the ECB when you buy the item. If your coupon expires, wait for another coupon to come out!

          • Mary H says:

            Unfortunately there are no CVS in Western Washington that I know of…wish there were, sounds like you ladies get great deals there.

        • Lindsey says:

          I’ve only tried this once (and it was at the suggestion of the cashier), but when Walgreens was out of an item that I wanted and wasn’t getting in a new shipment until the Wednesday after the sale ended, I paid for the items then, and the manager wrote me a rain check for the items with no expiration date. I got my register rewards, and I was able to pick up my items the next week. I had to pay in advance, which I wasn’t thrilled with, but it was an item I was confident they’d have stock in later in the week, so I did it. Perhaps other Walgreens would do this to if asked.

    • Crystal says:

      Have you asked them when the truck comes in? Sometimes they get shipments in the middle of the week. You can also ask for a raincheck.

  • Nursing homes also need many of these stockpile items. However, I once donated a ton of toothbrushes to one, and then was talking to a lady at church who (not knowing that I had done that) said how someone had donated a bunch of toothbrushes to her father’s nursing home, and how ridiculous that was, since most of the residents didn’t have teeth!

    I was a little embarrassed, but that had never occurred to me. It is probably a good idea to ask which of your stockpiled items they need. 😉

  • Laura says:

    And if you know of anyone serving on the mission field, that would also be a good way to give.

  • Paige says:

    I LOVE the hygiene kit idea. I live outside of a major city and there are always people at this one particular intersection asking for help. It is the SADDEST sight and I always drive away crying because I just feel so bad for them. I would love to be able to share my extra stuff with them! Thank you for the great post!

    • Helene says:

      There was this young guy on a corner holding a cardboard sign for months saying he was homeless. Then one day I drove past and there was a noticeably older man wearing the same clothes and cap along with the same sign.

      • bella says:

        I was always told never ever give money, give them a sandwich or some food and see how they respond.. Some will be grateful, some will tell you to get lost.

  • bella says:

    You could always make a care package to troops serving in war zones… perfect thinking for memorial day.

  • ShelleyB says:

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but in all seriousiness, why have that much!? It’s great to donate and gift to friends and family, but to be caught that overboard in the first place screams that it’s a problem. Sure it’s fun to get a good deal, but you gotta stop and think about if it’s becoming unhealthy or wasteful….or worst yet, Gluttony. I have no problem with stockpiling for a certain amount of time, but when it falls outside what your family (and in your case extended and friends) can use, then it’s a problem – not only from a greed aspect, but the fact that you are taking a deal away from a family that might really need it to make ends meet. I just think it’s something to consider. It’s awesome to save and to have a reserve, but you gotta be reasonable too. JMHO

  • kaycee says:

    Keep track of what you are donating and the retail price so u can deduct it from your taxes! A great way to help and save yourself even more money!

  • Diane says:

    I donated a bunch of stuff (a trunk load) to a lady who lost her house and everything in a fire. I also give a lot to my grandma who is on a fixed (low) income. Otherwise, I do give to local shelters, too. I don’t ever buy a whole ton in one trip but if I can get free tooth paste, deodorant or body wash I typically do.

  • Kara says:

    Giving back is awesome!!!
    We helped out one of the local churchs by donating schools supplies for the children (enough to last through 2010-2011 school year and get a head start on 2011-2012 year), I’ve got games in the garage that are going to Toys for Tots, we have also given items to my in laws in the last month.
    Donating keeps my stockpile down and also shows Ds the feeling of giving to others and it builds relationships with others.

  • VICTORIA says:

    I would love to have your stockpile.. we’re a homeschooling family of 7 our paychecks have declined about 300 a week and our food budget is bursting at the seams we down abut 4 loaves of bread 6gallons of milk potatoes , rice, chicken , ground beef.. with three meals and two snacks a day… I cant seem to get the coupon thing going all i have here is walmart, with gas prices killing our budget its hard for me to drive an hour to publix or kroger and we cant seem to set enough aside for me to do 2 week grocery shopping.. what do i do any advice..i’ve seen ladies walking around with the binders , without a babysitter and five kids in tow.. walking the store and having coupons ready i go again advice i need much of..

  • heather says:

    Really Really wish I could get a stockpile…Have not figured out even after reading and researching how to get good free stuff….most of what I get is junk and in no way do I have any type of stockpile…thank you all for sharing your over stocked items with people like myself who need things….

  • Tammy Thompson says:

    You could send care packages to the guys down range. They ALWAYS need non-perishables and they don’t all have wives or families to send it to them. My husband and I are stationed overseas and I can send the information to anyone who would like it. Just email me at . Some of these guys don’t get one single care package during a 15 month deployment. It’s sad. I hope anyone that can help, will 🙂 Tammy

    • Alison says:

      Hi Tammy,

      Thank you so much for posting this! I can’t believe I forgot to include this, especially since my husband is in the Navy! Filling a Flat Rate USPS box with some of the comforts of home is a wonderful blessing to those serving our country.

  • Tammy Thompson says:

    Haha! Victoria, we have 7 children so I know how you feel! 5 teenagers that eat me out of house and home and a set of 2 year old twins. Plus, we live on an Air Force Salary – OVERSEAS! It’s nuts. We don’t have WalMart, CVS or WalGreens. We have the Commissary and then the BX. So, if anyone has any expired coupons, I would LOVE to pay the shipping for you to share with me. Our commissaries over here take them for up to 6 months past expiration date. I tried using the Military Overseas Coupons program, but the cashiers go through the coupons before offering them to the military members/families, so we end up with hardly anything useful. I would love to take any expired coupons off of anyone’s hands! A penny saved is a penny earned, that’s for sure!!

    • Ally says:

      Please send me your address. I am a school teacher and we have several teachers who coupon together. We can get together a package for you.
      Is there any expiration date they won’t take (like ones from a year ago?) Does the commissary take internet coupons or just ones from the papers?
      I am a former military brat myself and have lived overseas. When your tour is up maybe you could figure out another family for us to send them to.
      I don’t know if DOD schools take Box Tops or Campbell Soup Labels but my school does. If you don’t need those I’d love to do an exchange.

      • Tammy Thompson says:

        Hi, Ally! Thank you so much! Our schools do take Box Tops, but I think it’s only the Elementary/Middle Schools. I have never been asked by the High School to do it. Next year I will have (4) High Schoolers (GASP!)/ (2) ninth graders, (1) 11th grader and (1) Senior. And yes….1 7th grader and a set of 2 year old twins. HA! My crazy life! I am finishing up my teaching degree and will hopefully teach with DoDDs in school year 2012/2013. I am so excited. It’s the perfect job with soon to be Graduates/Pre-Schoolers 🙂

        Anyway, I am rambling…. My address is PSC 41 Box 6953,
        APO, AE 09464

        We are in the UK. We love the traveling, but it stinks with no WalMart or CVS or double coupons! I am so glad the commissary will take them for 6 months past the expiration!

        So, I know the commissary will take internet and paper coupons. They will also take WalGreens and CVS print out coupons now.

        We are scheduled to leave in 2014 and I have PLENTY of friends that can be “adopted”. No coupon will ever go to waste! If I can’t use it or pass it along, then I will drop off at the Family Readiness Center for somone else.

        I am happy to clip my box top for you if you want to send expired coupons to me 🙂 They will take them up to 6 months past expiration date. Email me your address since yours is more private than mine. My mailing address is a Military PO box, so it’s safe enough. Thanks again!!! I will start clipping box tops today! Tammy

        • Brianne says:

          You guys CAN use the printed ones? And the ones in the Walgreens ads and CVS ads? How about Target coupons? Right now I send my expired to a military wife in the states that mails them to a friend over seas, but she said they couldn’t use printed ones or store ones. So I have been using the printed ones to write shopping lists on the back. But I seem to print a ton that don’t get used and would love for them to go to someone who can use them instead of them being scratch paper.

    • Kris says:

      I have a big envelope full of just-expiring coupons, including diapers. I always think about sending them to the military, but it’s discouraging to hear that most don’t reach the intended recipients.

      • Tammy Thompson says:

        I think they reach the recipients, but it’s usually volunteers that are sorting the coupons for the military families. So, as they are sorting, they are taking what they need as well. If I worked there, then I would hit the payload. ha! But, since I don’t – we get the leftovers.

        AND, since the Extreme Couponing Series, the ‘free’ coupon bins in the stores are CLEANED OUT every day. Some people go in and take POUNDS of them and I know they will never use them all. I hate to think they end up in the trash. It’s sad.

        I appreciate anything you can send that is expired, for sure!!
        Tammy Thompson
        PCS 41 Box 6953
        APO, AE 09464

        Thanks again!!

        • Nancy says:

          Maybe what we need is a penpal for coupons. If we all send to Tammy… then she will be over whelmed. Of course every coupon we get that is expired will not be used on base stores. They don’t get all of the products we get here in the states. So having a penpal that we can customize the coupons would be more helpful I would think. Do you agree?

          • JuliB says:

            Nancy –

            I’ve thought about that a lot. I donate through . But I’ve sent about 12K worth since October. If I had to sort and think (beyond food vs non-food), then I wouldn’t do it. Better to just clip and send, I think…

    • Trinity says:

      I would love to send you my expired coupons.I try to do the couponing but sometimes find i end up with a lot of expired. i usually throw them away and would love for someone to get could use out of them. Please email me and I would be happy yo pass them along. Where overseas are you stationed. Maybe instead of you paying for shipping we could work out “trades”?

    • Trinity says:

      would love to send my expired your way. where are you overseas? Maybe we could work out a “trade” rather than you paying shipping. Send me your address and will get some out to you when I get home from vacation in a few weeks. Always makes me so sad when they expire. I am glad they will get some good use.

      • Tammy Thompson says:

        Absolutely! I have tons that I don’t use as well. And if your in the business for some of those OH SO CUTE William and Kate miniature plates…then, I am your gal. We are in the UK 😉

        Tammy THompson
        PSC 41 Box 6953
        APO, AE 09464

        Thank you again!!!

        • Trinity says:

          That is so cool! My girls and I are really into tea parties so anything like that would be lovely. I know how the British love their tea!

    • Amber says:

      Tammy — send me your address too (bambier [at] gmail [dot] com). I’ve heard the same thing about expired coupons being pulled by the cashiers before everoyne else gets a chance from a friend who just returned from overseas, I had been mailing her all of my expired ones, but she’s just moved back stateside so myself and a couple other friends need a new place to offload them too!

      • Tammy Thompson says:

        It’s nuts. I know it’s supposed to be a great program, but then these guys are volunteers and they probably need them too. Sigh***
        Tammy Thompson
        PSC 41 Box 6853
        APO, AE 09464

        I am so happy to hear of another person that experienced the same thing. We are in the UK for another 3 years so when we move, we can adopt another family. We all need it here 🙂

        Thank you again!!!!!

        • Helene says:

          Tammy-I think a few of us can help you out 🙂 I just tore up a few internet expireds. Now I know where to send them.

        • Amber says:

          Thanks! I’ll be sending something out by the end of this week, I have a few additional friends that would like to send some your way too… you’ll probably get more than you’ll ever know what to do with at this rate! Anyway, don’t be suprised if you see an influx of mail coming from Iowa!!

          Also – do you know anyone in need of a care package? I have 2 partially completed boxes in my basement – I usually send them out to anonymous persons, but if you know anyone in need I’d rather send it to someone with a name… it’s so much nicer knowing when those go to someone in particular rather than just hoping that they really do get dispersed and don’t go through the pickings like the coupons do!

          • Tammy says:

            I cut out coupons for the American legion Auxiliary up the street from where I live.Makes me feel better that I don’t throw out coupons anymore.

  • Joy M says:

    Persinally I’ve committed to not buy more than my family can use. I have no pantry so I have a shelf in my garage where I keep extras. Even so, I seem to manage to have something to give when the need arises, as it did this week with tornadoes in my area.

  • Stephanie says:

    I work for a nonprofit agency that serves children who are victims of abuse and/or neglect. We have two group homes, which is what got me interested in couponing. We ALWAYS need stuff. It is super frustrating to go to the stores and the shelves be empty but I just keep going back. The economy has hit everyone and I appreciate those who are doing there part to make a difference! Thanks for posting

    • Nancy says:

      I understand your frustration… but shouldn’t we put some blame on the stores too… are they getting one case of the sale item or 20 cases since they are putting it on sale?

  • Sarah L. says:

    Tammy..I would love to send them your way!

  • Shelley says:

    At church we have a table where people can put unwanted items (extra garden produce, new clothing, coupons, formula, boxes of diapers, etc….) People mark the items “please take me.” I’m sure there are young couples, large families, and the elderly at church who would love your extra items. I know I would!

  • pat says:

    Here in Oregon I would suggest Bags of Love Inc. since we are a totally volunteer organization that supplies a bag of goodies including clothes, school supplies, toiletries, a quilt and a toy to children in crisis, children going into foster care due to neglect or abuse, or those that are homeless. We are experiencing a 600% increase since last year! Our police and firefighters, social workers and crisis centers carry our bags.

  • Kate B says:

    I think it is okay to have a small stockpile. Having one has enabled me to help two different friends who were laid off. One of which was too proud to ask for help or go to a food shelf. I was also able to throw together some items to donate to the tornado victims here in Minneapolis last week.
    I also donate a lot to my local food shelf, that I also volunteer at.
    I say it not to pat myself on the back, but it is one small way to help. I am a single parent, with a strict budget. I don’t clear shelves, and actually rarely buy up all of the deals. Crystal is right, it is all about balance and what works for your family. Helping is just a blessing.

  • Gina says:

    I think having a stock pile in case of emergencies and an economic down turn sounded great as well as donating to friends and family.

  • Brittany T says:

    I just want to say that I really appreciate the idea of keeping the kits in the car, too! I don’t chew gum, but I often “get paid” to take it and I have been looking for some practical way to pass it along. I like the idea of adding some fun things in with the super practical and passing them out almost randomly. I already look for “community baby showers” and opportunities at Christmas to distribute gift boxes. During the summer, I also usually have some new stock pile items that I sell for .50-1.50.

  • Helene says:

    The pictures I posted a couple days ago are the real stockpile which I have not done in one shopping trip or even a month’s time. I don’t post it to “flaunt” it I post it to show others what is possible. I am a single grandparent with custody of a young child. I am doing it on a secretary salary (unless I can pass the CPA exam this year). There are times when I wait three weeks for the next paycheck I can use for shopping ) one entire check plus more goes to the mortgage payment, my choice to live like that) so it is a comfort to know I can get by and even give to others when they need it. And if by showing what is possible by using coupons helps someone else then I have no problem showing it.

  • I like to send items to our troops. It seems that many of them don’t get the things they need. Especially female soldiers can have a hard time getting feminine hygiene products or items made for women. I’m not sure how to support our troops otherwise but sending basic essentials that make every person comfortable on a day to day basis is my way of helping. I send things like toothpaste, deodorant, razors, floss, ect.

    • There is also a place here in Houston called Unity Home. Its a home for up to 50 children ranging from 8-18 who have been removed from their homes. We’re not allowed to know where it is (I guess its a safety issue), I give items for 50 children every year for christmas. Usually personal hygeiene stuff. Body wash, toothbrushes. Last year with the game deals I was able to give 50 games too. I drop my stuff off at Continental Airlines reservation office and the woman there (I forget her name), she is the contact that makes sure everything gets to the children at Unity Home.

  • Diane says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this! My girlfriends and I were just discussing the extreme couponing show on TV. I think I shocked a few of them when I( being an avid couponer for over 20 years) said couponing like that is just another form of hoarding.
    I went on to explain to my friends that getting it for free is awesome, but if you can’t use it and no one else you know can, then its just a waste. We all agreed that donating to shelters( of any and all kinds) would be the best solution for someone who can’t pass up the deal.
    Local shelters of all kinds rarely will turn away donations and most especially now when so many people are out of work.
    Thank you to you and everyone who commented after you for this kind of support to local shelters, it makes my heart glad.

  • Angie says:

    When my stockpile reaches a certain amount {& I know when that is}, I don’t buy those items for a period of time. For instance, thanks to Marsh for the triple coupons this weekend, my HBA stockpile is plentious!! So, for the next little while, I will not buy {cheap or free} HBA items. This has always been my system. It gives me a break from shopping for these things & frees up some time for other activities. There are ALWAYS sales. There will always be free/cheap items at one store or another. While I enjoy stocking up, I enjoy not thinking about any of it for a while.

  • Thanks for sharing your tips. Also, I noticed your shelves and was very impressed by how organized they are. We have a shelter for displaced women and one for veterans in our neighborhood that I like to donate to. There are also food pantries such as Harvest Hope Food Bank that is a good place to donate food items. There is a place in our area called Daybreak crisis pregnancy center that is a good place for baby items. Single Moms and Senior Citizens on fixed incomes can always use help. May God bless you all as you use your surplus to help others in need.

  • Amanda Rogers says:

    A great way to help and remove some of that excess would be to donate to organizations that work with foster children. I am a foster parent and many of the children that come into homes have nothing when they get here. There are foster resource center (you can contact your department of human services) that prepare kits of hygeine items and baby supplies (diapers, formula, wipes, wash) for children when they come into care. It may not seem much to us but to a child who has nothing- a new toothbrush and a bottle of bubble bath is amazing.

  • Susan M says:

    Tammy … if you will send your mailing address to my inbox I will send you my expired coupons. I always have a ton of good coupons that I somehow let expire.

  • Connie says:

    I totally agree with everything you said. I don’t have lots of space for stockpile, but I have way enough for my hubby and I.
    Some friends don’t know how to take the big bag on table with me saying take what ever you need out of it, but it makes me feel good.
    I LOVE the fact that with couponing how I have done the past 6 months, that I am able to help several different organizations with donations. Like you said there is more than we realize. Our church is now helping the girls that are trying to get off the street and out of the sex trade, so they had lots of needs just starting this house.

  • Lydia B says:

    I have also put together the personal care kits in small ziplock bags and donated them to the children’s unit at our local hospital. As one of those moms who went in for something simple for a kid and stayed 4 days I know what a great blessing those are!

  • christie says:

    Donating is great but remember when you get things you do not need you be keeping someone who really needs it from getting a necessity they need. I was in a car wreck 3 years ago and have chronic pain and buy pain patches all the time….they are very expensive and insurance doesn’t pay for them. Some days all I do is cry because the pain is so intense! We all know the drug stores do not stock much as they are hoping to get you there and you buy other things. If you are a stockpiler of pain patches…feel free to donate to me! 🙂

  • Shelley says:

    What I meant by my previous post is that your own church members would appreciate your surplus. Having it on a give-away table means that anyone who wants them will take them without shame. Having Church people who are in charge asking if you want items is more embarrassing than having a giveaway table.

  • Karen says:

    Thank you for the idea of hygiene kits. We often see homeless people when we go to the nearby city and I wish I could do something for them. I don’t want to sound mean, but I hate to give them money. I want to actually DO something for them. Thank you so much!

  • Rebecca says:

    I started hardcore couponing back in 2008 when my husband lost a very good job. Our income was cut by 75%. I quickly developed a nice stockpile and it has been a Godsend. I got to a point where it was like ok, enough is enough, so in Jan. I went through the stockpile and made a list of 25 things that I would not buy this year. Believe it or not I am sticking to it. Of course if something is free I may pick it up but not too often. I don’t shop nearly as much as I used to so I am not tempted. I have also shared my stockpile with my senior parents and inlaws, donated some to the local shelter and also sold some in our garage sale. I feel like there is always plenty to go around and we love to share not only the stockpile but our coupons and the knowledge of how to get the best deals. By giving to others you get so much more in return and I love that my children are living that lesson on a daily basis.

  • Kimberly says:

    One more idea: could you consider leaving ONE or TWO of the item on the shelf for someone like me (a full time working single mother whose ex doesn’t pay what he’s supposed to pay), so that I could just nab a couple of them?

    How about that?

    I don’t qualify for charity. I try to make my own way. I clip coupons, and study the sales, and am seriously dismayed when I get there and the entire shelf has been swiped by someone else.

    • TNK says:

      1. Just because the shelf is empty when you get there doesn’t mean that ONE person cleared the shelf. It could be several different things such as the store never got any in the first place, they had only a few on hand, or several different people came in with coupons.
      2. There are a lot of people who are in economically difficult situations. Being a single parent myself I understand your situation all to well. However, I have just learned that sometimes you get the deals and sometimes you don’t. That is life. Make the best of the situation!! Maybe you could team up with another single mom and between the two of you make a schedule that can help you get those deals.

    • Alison says:

      Hi Kimberly,

      I realize this is a frustration, but please know that while there are those that clear shelves, this is NOT how I coupon or have ever couponed in the three years I’ve been doing it. (I should have put that in the article upfront. It is not something I advocate.)

      I went into more detail in a previous comment, but I wanted to reply to this.

      • Kimberly says:

        I do know that most people don’t clear the shelves. The TV show doesn’t model that, though. It models extreme excess, in my opinion. I’m all for building a stockpile, and being charitable. I’m glad to know that you’re not an advocate of shelf-clearing either.

        I appreciate the clarification. 🙂

  • CandyFoote says:

    This was so nice to read. It’s very upsetting to hear how some people stockpile 40 years worth of toilet paper! Thanks for sharing!

  • TNK says:

    I believe in having at LEAST a 6 month supply of food and personal care items on hand at all times. I do accumulate what looks similar to that picture, but have NEVER cleared a shelf. I take a little here and a little there. Sure, when they had cream of mushroom soup back in Nov, I stocked up. I did it over several trips. When they had pasta on sale and it was free, I stocked up. I did it over several trips.

    There is nothing wrong with having a supply of food on hand. You know, it USED to be common for people to have cellars full of food, often times a year supply. Now having that same years supply of items on hand is considered a mental health issue called hoarding.

    I am a single parent. I lost my job, and when I found another it was for almost HALF of what I was making. Thank the lord I had that food supply on hand. It made all the difference in the world.

    P.S. you would be surprised at HOW BIG a 6 month supply of food really is. It may look like a lot, but when you really need to use it without restocking it.. it goes FASTER than you think!!!

    • Tammy says:

      USED to be common for people to have cellars full of food,-my mother in law has kept food in basement for years.

      Guess how times have changed it can be hoarding or stock piling.Extreme couponing show did a job of labeling people,but they show people who have years worth of deodorant,laundry soap etcc.That is way more then 6 months worth of stock piling.

  • Mel says:

    I’m so impressed!!… Your stockpile is so organized. I’m a little jealous, but this has motivated me.

    • Alison says:

      Hi Mel,

      Unfortunately that’s not a picture of my stockpile. If only mine was nearly as organized! It’s a motivation to me as well 🙂

  • Marcy says:

    I donate my extra items to my local food bank. They will take almost everything that I offer. Including pet food. The unemployment in our county is high and demand is great. In our state, you can’t use food stamps on non food items… that means no laundry products, soap, shampoo, or toilet paper. They are always grateful for the things I can donate and tell me that it’s all useful. Unfortunately, I think I’m the only individual doing this. The other donations seem to come from groups.

    Another idea is to give your toiletry samples to your local woman’s shelter. Since the women and children aren’t there long, the small sizes are useful. I accumulate a bag of stuff from motels then take it all in at once.

    I don’t empty the shelves when shopping either. If it’s important to me to get an item, I will try to get there early on Sunday. And if I don’t need it personally, I will try to wait until later in the week. If it’s gone, no worries.

  • Laurie Villotta says:

    I am a single mom with 2 daughters. Before children I would stockpile so many personal supplies I had enough for 5yrs. Even though it was a good deal I now realize how much time and money I wasted. Not tons of money,but money that could have gone to other things. Since I super simplified my life 2 yrs ago I buy only what we need not 2 of everything. I find that with the economy and people having less it has made me reassess the things I really need. If I do pick up extra supplies that are free and I do not need them I save them to make up personal supply bags for needy families at xmas. I have also gotten formula samples from different companies and donate them to our local church for moms day out program.

  • patti says:

    Wonderful ideas…I’ve always donated to those in need, couponing simply allows me to be able to donate much more.

  • I know my response might not be the most popular one but I would say have a yard sale. I put just a few stockpile items in a yard sale a couple of years ago at very cheap prices. I was thanked by several shoppers who needed help getting some good deals but didn’t qualify for help from a local charity.

    • Lindsey says:

      I did this over this past weekend, and I also had some people who were thrilled to be getting items at a good deal. I donate lots of stuff to charity and supply my extended family with items, so I don’t just sell stuff, but on a whim I put some items out to sell, and I had one woman almost in tears because she was so happy to be able to afford the items that otherwise would strain her budget.

  • Rachel says:

    I am planning to donate to JOPLIN, MISSOURI because many people lost EVERYTHING!! Read this article for an up-close account of what it was like to be there during the recent EF5 tornado. It must have been terrifying for those that lived through it. I have a friend that has been there to help and she said it looked like a war zone. Devistating. Shocking. She said you can’t imagine the destruction, even after seeing it on the news, until you are there to see it in person.

  • Carmen says:

    When we had five little children and one vehicle and one income, couponing was not even a possibility for me. A friend from church would often share her surplus with me and wow did I appreciate it! I always felt the extra groceries were such a gift. Now that I have a teen daughter to keep track of the coupon opportunities and ten in our family to feed on that single income, I am happy for the coupon deals and share any surplus I can with other moms in our church whose little ones don’t enjoy sitting through a long grocery shopping trip.

  • Lisa says:

    don’t get me wrong, i love getting great deals and freebies as much as the next person. but what about the idea of actually using some of the stuff in the stockpile. isn’t that why we stockpile? to save for a day when the deals are scarce? my philosophy is that you can’t take it with you when you go.

    • Crystal says:

      Yes, however, sometimes it’s good to clean out and get rid of things that might be expiring — or to bless someone else who is going through a hard time. I try to do this every six months to make sure that I don’t have things hidden at the back of the stockpile that I completely forgot about it!

  • Alison says:

    Hi all,

    I’m loving these responses and getting new ideas! I do want to make it clear (and in hindsight, should have definitely put this in the article) – I do not advocate “extreme couponing” or clearing the shelves. I’ve been couponing for a few years now and can say I’ve never gone in and cleared a shelf. In fact, since writing this article, I join the masses that have been a little discouraged by people “extreme couponing” and have encountered the same troubles with empty shelves.

    After couponing for some time, it is almost inevitable to develop some sort of “stockpile.” For those that do Walgreen’s or CVS, you’ll know that you need to “roll” your ECBs or Register Rewards almost every week. There are weeks where I may partake in a deal for something I can’t personally use but know I can donate so that my ECBs or Register Rewards don’t expire and go unused/wasted. Even if I only pick up one box of toothpaste every few weeks because of a CVS or Walgreen’s deal to roll a reward, that still adds up!

    I have to also add that unfortunately that’s not a picture of my stockpile. 🙂

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