Some people save money by shopping for deals and then hoarding consumables away for the future. It takes a lot of effort, though, and a lot of storage space. In my house, that's storage space we simply don't have. I do use coupons when I find them for things that I buy anyway, but I don't typically use them to stock up. I think it'd be all to easy for a stocking up hobby to turn into a clutter problem.
However, I make an exception for school supplies. For some reason, it makes me happy to know that I've got a box full of school supplies stored away in the utility room. I feel clever and frugal knowing that I bought most of them at bargain basement prices. We also recycle what we can, so I store folders, scissors, rulers and other things that we've used before but don't need this year. Because I have a school supply stash, I had almost everything my first grader needed this year before I even set foot in a store.
Today, I was at Target and cruised through their school supply aisle to see what was left over from the back-to-school rush. I bought a few ten-cent notebooks, twenty-cent crayons and other things that I know we'll need in the future.
When I got home, I took a minute to stock my school supply box with the new stuff, plus the extra supplies that were laying around the kitchen. The boys just went back to school two days ago, so we still had some extra clutter hanging out where it didn't need to be.
While I certainly don't encourage anyone to shop for things they don't need, sometimes, it does make sense to stock up. But, you should set some rules for yourself to keep it from turning into a clutter problem. Here's how to exercise caution with school supplies or anything that you might stock up on:
1. Set a space limit for stocking up. For me, it's the size of my box. I use an old diaper box for the school supply stash. As you can see from the picture, it's full. I don't need to buy anything more to add to it. I really don't want to see this spreading into two boxes.
2. Be realistic with how much you buy. Ten-cent notebooks are a good deal, but that doesn't mean you need to buy a dozen. If the store doesn't have a limit, set one for yourself. Get five or six, if you've got the space to store them, but resist the urge to buy enough notebooks to last until the next century.
3. Only buy what you need. If your kids are past the crayon stage, don't buy them, no matter how cheap they are. Heck, if someone is giving them away for free and you don't need them, just say no. I've been known to accept free stuff when I don't really need it. It's a hard habit to break. However, I've learned that it's not really free. Clutter always has a cost, one way or another.
If you do like to stock up, whether it's with school supplies or toilet paper, go for it. Just be sure to evaluate your motivation. Is it frugality? Or is it another way to surround yourself with clutter? It can be a fine line between the two.