How Much Is Too Much to Keep "Just in Case?"

We often recommend that, when organizing a room, you create a very accessible space for something to be used regularly, and then make a "backstock" area for the spares of that item, stored somewhere less accessible. For example, you might have your daily toothpaste and floss in your top bathroom drawer; extra toothpaste, floss and toothbrushes can be kept in a cabinet in a bin labeled "Dental."

Related: Organizing Help You Can Really Use

A very workable rule-of-thumb for most situations is to keep one item in current use and one as a spare. When you open up the spare, put that item on your shopping list and buy another spare. Any more than that is probably too much for most situations, unless the item is hard to come by.

Related: Get Organized to Make Summer a Breeze!

Some people's idea of a backstock gets out of hand. Here are some considerations to help you think through your needs:

  • How much do you use this item? Daily, weekly, monthly, or annually?
  • Does one person use this, or the whole family?
  • Is this item perishable? If so, buying too much may cost you in spoilage.
  • Do we really use this, or am I just being tempted by a bargain deal?
  • Does this fit in my space? If you live in a small apartment, you'll need to keep less backstock than someone in a larger home, by necessity.
  • Will this supply crowd out prime space better used for more frequently needed items?
  • Could I buy this in a larger size instead of buying multiple smaller containers?
  • Is there some inherent value to having more than one spare of this item, such as it being difficult to find again?

Related: Finding Hidden Storage

Remember, if something you keep as a spare is extremely important (like tires or backup hard drives), make a note in your calendar to periodically verify that it is at-the-ready.

What are your favorite ways to keep your working supply going? Tell us in the comments.

- By Lorie Marrero

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Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.