Monday, July 17, 2006

Usage of Inventory

Sometimes I think about my household supplies as if they were inventory in a store, managing my buying for cash flow, physical space, and economic order quantity. The question becomes, do you follow a "just in time" buying policy or do you stock up in order to save? I tend not to stock up-- at least I haven't done it while living in a tiny studio where I have limited storage space. So now that I am a couple of weeks away from moving out, I'm fortunate not to have tons of food I'll have to throw away. But the annoying thing is that I am very close to running out of some things. I grabbed a whole handful of sugar packets at the deli this morning because I am almost out of sugar at home. The only time I use sugar is in my morning coffee on the weekends, so it's not a big deal, but still, that morning coffee is important and it would have really started my Saturday off wrong if I'd had no sugar!
I'm also running low on olive oil, which I use quite frequently. I keep eyeballing the level in the bottle, wondering if I'll make it. I don't want to have to buy a new bottle and then have to move it somewhere! I'm almost out of shampoo, but I have some little hotel bottles that will tide me over. My freezer is almost empty except for a few items I plan to eat soon. I have a lot of extra coffee, some fancy stuff that I got as a birthday present, but I should be able to take some with me and even put some in storage. Otherwise I think I'll just be able to pack some non-perishable stuff, take a few things with me, and not have to throw out too much.
So there are benefits and drawbacks to having very little storage space. How much do you keep on hand of food and other consumable items like toilet paper, shampoo, etc? Is there a "right" amount?
Of course, I've been discussing one kind of consumable item-- then there are others: books and CDs. I have packed about 20 boxes of books, and I still have probably 4 or 5 more to go. Have I read all of these books? No. Will I ever read all of these books? No. Do I need all of these books? Well, some are reference books that come in handy once in a blue moon, and others are just... stuff I like. It's been taking me a while to pack them, because I have to sort through them, group them by size for most efficient packing, dust them lovingly, and flip through some of them before carefully nestling them into nice, clean cardboard boxes with bubble-wrap securing every loose nook and cranny. I love my books.
I'm kind of the same way with CDs-- I'll never listen to most of them, and I have most of my favorites in iTunes now anyway, but I still find them very hard to get rid of. I do have a stack that I want to sell, but I'm not sure yet how I'll do it. I sold some books over the weekend too, and made $22 in cash. I ususally take trade-in credit, but I figured the last thing I'll need for the next few months is more books, more stuff, more inventory!


Asset gatherer said...

I'm the same way. I tend to use JIT, but now that I'm in my own place (and therefore more permanent), I'm starting to stock up a little more. Also, do you have any tips for buying new construction in NYC? It seems to be a different game than it is here in DC. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Whenever I stock up too much, I usually regret it. Some things, like paper towels, we go through quickly enough that buying in bulk makes sense. But others, like those Costco jugs of Hershey's syrup, can last for years. At some point, because of the time value of money, you're not even saving money by buying in bulk.

Of course if you sell your CDs, make sure to erase the songs you ripped from them from your computer.

Bitty said...

Since my children moved out, I have more space AND more money, which means I can buy consumables on a more flexible basis. I used to buy JIT because I only had X pennies a week for all purchases. I rarely could buy ahead. No longer.

Yesterday, for instance, I got a deal on bulk paper towels and toilet paper, so I'm good to go for months on the towels and weeks on the TP, all at a bargain price.

This kind of thing actually makes me VERY happy. My local grocery, which is struggling its way out of bankruptcy, is doing a lot to entice shoppers, including weekly BOGOs on MEAT! I stock up on porkchops and freezer bags when it's porkchop week. You betcha.

I loved the way you described packing your books. Obviously your priorities are straight! I live in a tiny house, but it would probably be comfy by NYC standards (1100 sq ft). I have hundreds, maybe thousands of books packed on six bookshelves. My daughter looks at all this and asks why I don't get rid of some of those books.

She clearly is not a reader.

I thought of you all last week while I watched HGTV's Househunters in NYC. The places they featured were both cheaper (although not that cheap) and larger (although not that large) than I envisioned being available in NYC.

Leslie said...

I'm a bulk, store it up kinda buyer! May I also mention that I have three kids (and getting out to go shopping is not always easy). So stocking up saves me time and money (and toddler tantrums!).

In regards to books, they're always difficult to part with. Though I do have to admit that I sold most of my college books on eBay (as one lot). Not a bad deal!

I just found your site btw, and I love it!

Anonymous said...

I try to bulk up. Living in the city, I hate lugging stuff up our walk-up. We buy bulk from fresh-direct only because I don't want to carry that stuff up.

Anonymous said...

Your entry inspired my entry. (Sorry, my blog company doesn't have trackback.)

Anonymous said...

I am all about stocking up on consumables when they're on sale. Toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, shaving cream, dish soap, you name it. I hate running out of these things, and I hate shopping for them. I know I'll have to buy them at some point so I prefer to buy a bunch at a time.