If I were to guess, most of you reading this article save money through IRA or 401(k) plans. In most states, you have to carry insurance in order to drive an automobile legally. The majority of you also have some form of health insurance or medical savings account to cover medical expenses too. These are just a few methods of financially protecting yourself from uncertainty. Stocking up on everyday items as a part of your preparation supplies is necessary too.
Let’s say you were out of work for a prolonged period of time, would you have enough supplies to last until you got another job? How about if there was a major disaster that disrupted supplies from getting to your neighborhood? What if the cost of many items suddenly shot up because of a unforeseen event that constrained supply or drove excessive demand? The concept to keep in mind here is the notion of stockpiling a certain quantity of supplies to see you through disruptions.
Stockpiling should start with examining what items you currently use on a daily basis. This includes food, medicine, household supplies, and other consumable items you already have on-hand. Then determine how long you want to be able to sustain an interruption of that item, for example 30 days. Now ask yourself how much of a given item (ex. toothpaste) do you use during that timeframe? If you have enough to get you through the next 30 days, congratulations! If not, purchase what you need to ensure you have an adequate supply on-hand.
Need some examples? Here are some things I keep at least a 6-month supply on-hand:
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Razor blades
- Shaving oil
- Body lotion
- Laundry detergent
- Dish soap
- Dishwasher soap
- Clorox cleaning wipes
- Much more…
Keep this in mind, I am single and live alone. If you have children, a spouse, or relatives living with you, take those other people into account when determining your stock levels. Also, if things are bad for a long time many of these items can be used to barter with. We’ll cover that subject in another post but keep that in the back of your mind.
I recommend stocking up on supplies when there is a sale on them. You can stock up for less when you do this and be able to use your savings to purchase other items. Also, warehouse stores like Costco regularly run sales on bulk packages of certain items (ex. soap, toothpaste, peanut butter) that are great to have additional amounts on-hand. The key is to stock up before there is panic buying going on, you want to make sure you have what you need before you need to have it.
So take a look around and start to think about what you will need if things get rough for a while. You can start with 30 days and move on from there, the key is to start NOW so you have a foundation to build on over time. If you shop wisely, you can become more insulated from supply and price fluxuations when they come. This will happen from time to time, but unlike many others, you will be prepared for it.