When I first began couponing I was surprised at how quickly my own stockpile accumulated. My family of four lives in a modest home with no basement and very little storage space. With no obvious place to store anything, that great deal on deodorant became a permanent eyesore on the kitchen counter. The top of the dryer was filled with toothpaste and mouthwash bargains. The pantry was overflowing.
I knew if I didn't get organized I would have to give up on couponing altogether. It took a little creativity, but with a few simple changes I found ways to manage my stash.
1. Don't overstash
It's very tempting to cash in on that free toothpaste deal every single week. However, you also need to consider where you will store it. Buy just enough to get the best deal and to get you through until the next sale. There will be more coupons when it's time to replenish.
If you have a hard time passing up a great bargain, find a place in your garage to store a large box. Fill the box with any items you don't need or use. Once it is full, donate it to a local shelter, and know that it is being put to good use by people who really need it.
2. Pack it all in
When I began to organize my pantry, I found that there was a lot of unused space. Because the shelves are deep, we tended to only use the front half of the cabinet efficiently. The back of the cabinet was littered with half empty bags of stale chips. I pulled everything out, sorted it, and carefully packed it back in. By grouping everything into similar categories, it fit into the cabinet nicely. Now my cereal bargains are tightly lined up at the back of one shelf. Canned goods are neatly stacked in the back of another, and plastic containers hold bulk items like rice and pasta. The fronts of each cabinet are reserved only for the individual items we will need for the week or those we use on a regular basis.
I took the organization a step further and mounted a dry erase board on the back of each cabinet door to maintain an inventory of what is stored on each shelf. This system makes it easier to plan our meals and nearly eliminated our issue of wasting food.
3. Out of the package
Items are often sold in boxes and packaging that take up more space than necessary. A small bin in your pantry can contain loose fruit snacks, oatmeal packets and granola bars more efficiently. Loose razors can be stored together in a Ziplock bag. If necessary, liquid cleaning products can even be combined into larger containers (recycled milk jugs work well) and used as refills, instead.
4. Consider alternatives
Our laundry room had a lot of unused wall space. By installing two shelves that ran the length of the room, we gained an additional 12 feet of storage for our cleaning supply and paper product stockpiles. A shoe rack on the back of my closet door cleared shelf space for toiletries. Bed skirts hide crates filled with extra food. I even have stashes hidden in the pretty baskets on my living room shelves.
5. Display it
Some bargains can look beautiful if displayed in a new way. A large glass jar in my bathroom shows off the bars of soap I have accumulated. Other jars in my kitchen show off bulk grains. Extra produce can make a pretty table centerpiece when you need more space in your fridge. You will be surprised what an interesting container can do to transform (or hide) your stash.
6. Look outside your home
If all else fails, consider other locations. Buying or renting a small storage shed may be worth the savings as your stockpiles grow. Your church may offer you storage space in return for bargain cleaning supplies. A friend may let you keep a shelf of items in her basement if you help her find those great diaper deals. Although less convenient, these options will allow you to continue couponing until you find other options.
Using coupons doesn't have to cause chaos. Stop drowning in your stockpiles and look around your home for storage options. With a little bit of creativity, your stash will be well organized — even in the smallest spaces.
This is a guest post by Andi from Webb City, MO
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