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Reader mail: More stockpile flack from you-know-who

If you've been following my column, you know that stockpiling groceries is an extremely effective way to beat the pricing game and stock up when items are inexpensive. It's true that this is an entirely different way to approach shopping, but when we learn to shop on a price-based basis, versus a needs-based basis, we spend less and save more!

But what do you do when your significant other isn't entirely on board with the idea of having a large stash of groceries on hand at any given time? I've addressed the issue of spousal resistance in a previous column, when a wife asked for help explaining her stockpile strategy to her husband. This week, we hear from a husband.

Q: "My wife and a few of her girlfriends really enjoy your column, but I don't appreciate that you don't give the full picture of this stockpiling and foolish spending. You mention a 12-week cycle but you should also point out that items that are on sale will be on sale again, and there is no need to stockpile those items beyond 12 weeks. Just today, my wife was moving groceries around and found items in our closet with an expiration date of March 2005! This is due to stockpiling so much that one can become obsessed with the sale and not think clearly how often [an item] will be used. It's true that paper products and other items that move fast in a home are good to stock up on, but please address readers who don't rotate or use the old before the new and then have to throw things out since they are outdated."

A: I'm often asked how big my stockpile is and what kinds of things I stockpile the most. It's true that almost every product does enjoy a price drop in a regular, predictable way and a good portion of the items I have in my stockpile are in quantities that our family can use during the next 12 weeks. During that time, we're eating and using those items and they're things we don't have to run back to the store to purchase. When we run low on a particular item, I'm already looking for the next sale on it to replenish the stockpile.

Shoppers definitely need to be conscious of expiration dates on food. It's a good rule of thumb not to buy more than you can eat or use before the expiration dates. But the other side of this issue is that sometimes you'll come across a fantastic sale on an item that's offered at an even lower price than the normal 12-week low. Knowing that you will likely not see that deal again any time soon, this can be a great opportunity to stock up on that item for the long-term.

Just this past week I bought four bottles of name-brand laundry detergent for 79 cents each during a great sale. I already have five other bottles at home, but that's a low price that I will likely not see again soon, even 12 weeks from now. Detergent doesn't have an expiration date. And, with our family of five, it will certainly get used at some point! Buying more than we need of this item because the price is incredibly low isn't "foolish spending," but paying $7.99 a bottle when we're out of detergent and we actually do need it would be foolish in my book.

As long as I don't mind storing those bottles in the meantime, I've saved $28.80 on this item alone. I think that's smart shopping.

If you feel that your home stockpile is really getting out of control, here's another great way to prune it down to a manageable size. Once a month, take a look through your items and see if anything will expire within the next month. If you find some, and you don't think your household will use them in the next 30 days, consider donating them to a local food bank or food pantry. Your donations are usually tax-deductible and you'll also help people within your community, too.

I bring groceries to our local food pantry regularly, and I've seen first-hand how hard it has been hit in the current economy. Sharing your excess stockpile items is definitely a win-win.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon-workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her web site, www.super-couponing.com. E-mail your couponing coups and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.