I’m visiting my parents’ house for a couple of days. Last night at dinner, my brother told my mom he had come to check up on their house while they were on holiday last month and he had taken one of each of the things she had quadruples of in the pantry. Mom laughed because she has so much she didn’t even notice they were gone!
Stockpiling is a habit that has been passed on for many generations. During the Great Depression, when there wasn’t much money to go around and it was difficult to buy groceries for the family, women began to buy in bulk when items were on sale. My grandmother grew up in the 1930s and remembers her mother stockpiling items with large discounts. She learned from her mother, my mother learned from her. “It’s the way we’ve been raised,” says my Nana. “I don’t really think of it as a habit – more so a way of living. If it’s a good buy, I’ve got to buy them.” When a product she uses often is on sale or she has a coupon, she’ll buy three or four. She now lives in a two bedroom apartment by herself, yet has two freezers full of food and there’s no room left in her cupboards. She has saved a lot of money over the years, though, and is confident the stockpiling has paid off – despite those few disadvantages.
My mom started stockpiling when we kids were fairly young, but only when they had a little extra cash to do so. “It gets progressively worse as you get older,” says Mom. “You have more cash, but you don’t need the extra stuff once the kids move out.” When she sees things for a good price, she will buy a few, even if she has several at home already. At the moment she has eight packages of 24-roll toilet paper in the house. That’s 192 rolls of tp! (“Well, I have four bathrooms,” she says. “That makes a difference!”) Sometimes she’ll keep the same product in different places – she’ll forget they are one place and have them stockpiled in another. Most often this saves her a lot of money. But there have been instances where she’ll find meat she got on sale in the freezer from too many years ago to make it safe to eat!
Stockpiling is often linked to coupon shoppers, which is why I thought it important to add into my coupon month. I haven’t learned from my mom and nana quite yet, although I don’t have a family to buy for either. I do buy a few of my favourite toothpastes when they go on sale, and I do have quite a bit of pasta in my cupboard, but I’m not at the level my previous generations are at.
Also, living in the city makes it incredibly hard to stockpile. With not much room in most apartments in Toronto, where would we store the extra product? Most apartments don’t have enough closet space to fit a small-sized wardrobe, let alone 192 rolls of toilet paper. And with only one or two people to buy for, most of us don’t need or want the excess – even if it means saving a couple of dollars. As well, how would we transport it to our houses in the first place? Unless you have a car, or can afford taxis, only small shopping trips are do-able. I’m pretty sure the other riders would get pretty annoyed with you carrying those 192 rolls of tp onto the streetcar! (If anyone does stockpile who lives in the city, please let me know how you do it.)