Just recently, a new Costco opened up in our neighborhood and I couldn't believe all the buzz-- even my own kids were begging to go! Because I now have a new understanding of just how alluring these warehouses with aisles of abundance are, I want to talk about this whole buying in bulk thing again...
At this time there are two things of which I would like to remind you:
First, despite what the media may tell you, you are NOT a "consumer," but a human being. Hopefully you know you are so much more than your ability to consume and accumulate...
Second, as you shop for your needs week in & week out, keep in mind your goal is not to run a storage facility, but to create a home.
If you are wooed by the thought of saving some coin, and made giddy by the thought of all that abundance right on hand at home, let's think about the real costs involved in investing in palettes of paper towels and tons of toothpaste:
- Carrying inventory (which is what you are doing, just like a store or factory) requires time...time to make sure it is stored properly, that it is used in a timely way, and that it gets used at all...it is easy to forget what is on those shelves way down there in the dark basement or shoved to the back of the freezer.
- Carrying inventory requires space--space that could be used for other productive things, or enjoyed with other activities. How many of us feel our houses need more space? Create some elbow room by not having so much of it occupied by things you aren't currently using.
- Carrying inventory has a built-in percentage of waste--we are busy people with lots of things on our minds. There will always be a portion of things that we are storing that we simply forget about. We will buy duplicates. The product will get dusty, spoil, pass its expiration date or just become undesirable as it waits on the shelf. It will end up in the trash unused.
- Carrying inventory ties up cash in things that aren't currently being used, which maybe can make sense if we are investing in something like real estate or gold, but we are talking about things like shampoo and soda. Enjoy your money now, or put it in the bank so that it is there for a rainy day. Don't tie it up in things that are readily available at the corner store that you won't need for months, or maybe never at all.
Allow the stores to provide a wonderful service to you: let them store your stuff until you need it! You are right to think that your house is much like a factory or machine that needs supplies to run efficiently. However, from Benjamin Franklin, to Henry Ford, to current day Toyota manufacturing processes, it has been proven that efficiency does not include managing inventory, but rather what is called "just in time" or "lean" practices. We can employ these same ideas, and have less waste and more time to do the things we really enjoy....
The product our little cottage factories (our homes) should produce in abundance is comfort and peace, providing an environment that supports how we want to live. Don't manage inventory, enjoy living!