The Piggy Bank Pantry

The Piggy Bank Pantry

I needed some petty cash, but we didn’t have a petty cash jar or something similar, I’ve thought about it once or twice, but never did anything.

My daughter came home from school and said she wanted to play the clarinet. Why a clarinet? I think she knew I loved the sound of a clarinet, or maybe one of her friends was going to play the clarinet, who can know these things.  All I know is the music store needed $200 dollars for us to begin renting the instrument, and I didn’t have $200 to spend on a clarinet.

Then it dawned on me, I did have a full pantry. This was the start of a great relationship, with a different perspective of our pantry. No, I didn’t have a clarinet in our pantry, but I began to see the pantry as our petty cash piggy bank. As they say, the rest is history.

I saw the value of keeping our pantry at full capacity, beginning to see the pantry as a savings account, true it wasn’t as liquid as money in hand, but just about. Now, when I needed a little cash, I would sell my family some of our provisions from the pantry, converting pantry items into cash from the grocery budget. I now used the cash for other non-pantry items and replace the used pantry items in the next few months, there was no problem with doing this. Over time I discovered a few management tricks that made this practice of using our pantry as a piggy bank much more effective, knowing I would never go without a pantry.

One thing I discovered by looking at our pantry records, that made me smile, is when I get a loan from a bank I pay interest, but when using the panty as a bank I didn’t, in fact most times, I could even make money.  It became obvious when I use food items I had bottled, I would sell it to the family at replacement costs, which is always higher than purchase costs. The difference is my profit, and I like that.

When I use normal retail goods from my pantry, and buy those items to stock the pantry, or restock them, I always look for opportunities to buy items on sale, doing this almost always balances out. The one thing I can depend on is inflation and normal markups due to shortages, so I sell my pantry items at the higher prices.

I suppose I should clarify what I mean by selling at higher prices. Let’s say I “sell” a can of corn. Who do I sell it to? Me, really our family. I use this can of corn as part of tonight’s dinner. I bought this can of corn for 45 cents six months ago, and when I go to replace it in two months from now, I must pay the new cost of 65 cents. It’s all about record keeping. Your family has its corn to eat, and you don’t need to replace it for a few months, but when you do, you must pay the higher replacement cost. For me, it’s just more fun if I shift this cost difference now instead of later, taking the higher replacement cost out of the food budget now, instead of waiting for a few months, since the whole point is for whatever reason, I need cash now.

All pantry items are not equal, they have different consumer “demand”, my family likes some things more than others. How often I must replace consumed foods item is referred to as the inventory turnover rate. In this practice of using the pantry as a piggy bank, I want to use pantry items with low turnover rates as often as possible.  Think about that old bottle of beef stew that your neighbor gave you. It looks more like dog food than anything you’d prefer to serve. But look, this provides your family with a way to make a little sacrifice for whatever you need extra cash for.

When we did get the clarinet for my daughter, we ended up buying it instead of renting, the entire family made sacrifices for a couple of months to help pay for it. But listen, the biggest sacrifice was having to hear my daughter practice for the first few months. Now, a year later when she practices her clarinet, she plays beautiful music, I’m proud of her and so grateful for our pantry.

Today, I don’t mind putting a little more money into the pantry each month. Our entire family understands, by making a small sacrifice, eating less than the best-looking or tasting foods, when it’s time to make a withdrawal from “petty cash” or the Pantry Piggy Bank we can!

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