01 March 2020

Happiness Homemade - Panic Buying v Stockpiling

My favourite investment is my grocery stockpile. I have a stockpile of groceries that we've been happily living off since January, and we'll continue to live off it for at least another nine months. Before that, we lived off our pantry for 12 months, and before that, another 12 months and so on.

I build our pantry with once-a-year shopping, and we live off it for a year.

Our pantry is worth twice what I paid for it and it's saving us money this year - a great return on investment, far better than anything the banks or stock exchange are offering at the moment.
 There have always been gloom and doomers predicting the end. Remember Y2K? Bird flu? Swine fly? Out of control meteors? Drought? Flood? Tsunamis? And now we have Covid-19 (Coronavirus).

And people are panicking. Going crazy clearing shelves of toilet paper, hand sanitiser, UHT milk, baby formula, nappies, pasta and oats. I'll fess up and say the oats made me smile. Don't get me wrong, I have oats in the pantry, and I use them. But I wondered just how many folk who were going crazy buying bulk oats know any way other than porridge to use them?

I've watched some of the TV shows about doomsday preppers, ordinary people stockpiling food, seeds, medicines and even ammunition so they'll be read for the end of the world or a future economic collapse or apocalypse. Some of them build underground bunkers and pack them full of water, canned and dehydrated food, medicines and enough ammunition to start a war.

So, do I line up with these extremists? Not at all. I find it entertaining but certainly not realistic or practical.

Our pantry stockpile is built to a plan. I know how much of each thing we need to meet our needs for the year. I keep an eye on prices to make sure I pay the lowest possible price. I keep best before and use by dates in mind and buy accordingly (not all the things I buy will be shelf stable for a year).  I make shopping lists, and inventories for storing what I buy.  And I only buy what we need and will be able to use within the 12 months until I do another yearly shop.
The other extreme is to not be prepared at all, however, which also is unacceptable. To me, building a reasonable stockpile of food, toiletries and cleaning supplies for my family is responsible. It’s insurance and for us this year it has paid off.

To me, food and household supplies in reasonable amounts are just as much insurance as our  Emergency Fund savings and the insurance policies that cover household disasters. These things give me peace of mind and assurance that I will be able to care for my family and our home no matter what life throws our way (we've faced long-term unemployment, chronic illness and now a pandemic).

My pantry stockpile may seem extreme; so what is a reasonable pantry stockpile?

Think about how you get paid. If you get paid weekly, plan to always have at least a week's supply of groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies, medicines on hand. If you get paid fortnightly, try to always be a fortnight ahead, ditto for monthly. This then gives you a little wiggle room if things go pear-shaped.

For example, you get sick and can't get to the shops for a week or two. Yes, you can always do an online shop, but it will cost you more. Or there's a hiccup with banking and your pay doesn't arrive in your bank account. What if you were to lose your job suddenly? Knowing you will at least be able to feed your family and keep them and your home clean for a while will take a load off stress away while you look for another job. Or perhaps you live somewhere that's flood prone, or gets hit by the occasional cyclone - again, knowing you don't need to panic when the warnings go out takes away stress and gives you breathing room to prepare other things.

Done reasonably, emergency preparedness in whatever form it takes - grocery stockpile, emergency fund in the bank, insurance policies - is not whacky.  The peace of mind that comes from knowing you are prepared really is priceless and it's something everyone can enjoy.

And, I intend to do everything in my power to encourage you to follow my lead.

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