Stop Running Out

Do you find yourself making urgent trips to the store because you’ve run out of an important item?  Or worse yet, having to manage without something because you can’t get to the store?

By planning ahead, you can be sure to always have what you need when you need it.

Let’s divide the world of important commodities into two categories: those products that consist of one item that takes a while to use up (such as a printer cartridge or a box of cereal), and those that consist of multiple items (such as a bottle of aspirin, or a package of toilet paper).

Single Item Packages

It may take months to use up your printer cartridge, but when it runs out, you’re in big trouble.  (And it’s always the night before a big presentation, isn’t it?)  Solve this dilemma by always having an extra one on hand.  When you put a new cartridge in your printer, go the store and buy another one.  If you do that every time, you’ll never run out.

This technique also works with products that get used up much faster, such as cereal.  There should always be an extra box of cereal in your pantry.  Don’t wait until they are both used up to put it on the shopping list.  Add it to the list as soon as you’ve finished one.  Until you go to the store, you’re still able to have your complete breakfast because of your backup box.  Do this with other frequent-use items such as milk and orange juice.

Multiple Item Packages

Don’t wait until you’ve taken the last aspirin to think about buying a new bottle.  Instead, when you first open it, take 10 aspirins out of the bottle, put them in the old aspirin bottle, and stick it in the back of the cabinet.  When your new bottle is empty, you’ve actually still got 10 aspirins left.  That’s your cue to buy another bottle next time you are at the drugstore.

Try this with toilet paper and paper towels as well.  Separate the last roll from the rest of the package.  When the package is empty, you’ve still got one left, leaving you time to get a new one from the store before you run out completely.

Try these techniques out and let me know how they work for you.

  1. Chris Simiriglia
    Sep 21, 2009

    Great piece. Its important to always have a list with you of things that you are running low on. I keep mine on Evernote (a free program available at and it syncs with my blackberry so my updated list is always with me. Paper works just as well. You can read more about keeping a shopping list here:

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