One of the college expenses that many families forget is the cost of setting up a separate quarters for your child. Not only will he or she need new bedclothes, towels, and perhaps a mini fridge, but the student will also need everyday items like coffee/tea, laundry detergent, shampoo, toothpaste and other personal items. If you’re already stockpiling, then you know how much money having a stockpile can save. If you aren’t stockpiling, beginning with a collection of items for your child’s upcoming college adventure is the perfect time to start.
How to Stockpile
If you’re new to stockpiling, here are a few basics that will help you get started.
- The goal is to get the most items at the lowest cost. Free is good, but not always possible. Aim for a savings of 50% or more on most items. This is easily achieved with just a little planning.
- Watch for sales on your child’s favorite brands. Does your daughter love Herbal Essences conditioner? Mine does. Normally, a smallish bottle is $2.97 or more. However, last week, a local grocery had these small bottles on sale for $1.99. I gathered all the $1.00 off coupons I could find, which brought them down to $0.99 each. While this isn’t the cheapest shampoo around, it did make each bottle under $1.00 and it is what she loves. I bought 13 bottles of shampoo and conditioner, which I estimate will last her about 6 months.
- Watch loss leaders. Loss leaders are those items that a store advertises to get you in the door. They make very little, if any money on these items. Combine coupons with these sales to begin building your stockpile.
- Ask for bulk discounts. Some times simply never go on sale. My daughter’s favorite body wash never has coupons and never goes on sale. I simply added up how many bottles she needs (I figure 12) and asked the manager if I could have a discount if I bought a dozen at one time. He hesitated and finally offered me 15%. It wasn’t a great savings, but it is better than paying full-price.
- Buy one extra. Each week when you go to the store, buy one extra item to add to the stockpile. Ideally, these will be sale items, but if it is an item that doesn’t go on sale, then this can be a way to resist paying out hundreds at one time and spread the cost out a bit. For example, buy an extra bottle of Tide (always coupons for this).
- Remember e-coupons. If you aren’t into clipping coupons, but still want to save money, check out the e-coupon offers from stores like Kroger and Meijer. You simply load the coupons to your cell phone or your Plus Card and the coupon automatically comes off when you check out.
What to Stockpile for College
The best place to start with your stockpile is with a list of items your child uses regularly. Then, multiply how many of each item your child uses per month by the number of months the child will be away at school. This will provide a full school year’s supply of items. Once your child leaves for school, you should replenish his stockpile regularly, so he can shop on visits home. Here are a few typical items:
- Laundry detergent and fabric softener
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Body wash
- Hair style products
- Cleaning supplies
- Popcorn and other snacks
- Shaving supplies
- Facial cleansing and treatments
By planning ahead, you can save hundreds of dollars, which can be a welcome relief during those expensive college years. It may allow extra money for text books, funds to send your child for extras or even go toward tuition when necessary.