How Organizing Your Home Will Save Both Time and Money

Today we wrap up our little series saving money through organization. Food and clothing aren’t the only things around your home that can save you money if you look after them properly.  If you take the time to look around the house, you’ll discover more areas as well.

Cleaning supplies
If you’re like most people, what you don’t see can lead to duplicate purchases because the item either couldn’t be found in a reasonable length of time when you needed it, or it apparently “got lost” only to be found again after you got home from the store.  It pays to take inventory occasionally of your cupboards, closets, and other locations where cleaning supplies are stored so that you know what you have, how much you have, and when you’ll need to buy more.

The Garage
Yes, that place reserved for the vehicle, if it should ever be able to fit inside, the lawn care machinery and products, tools, left-over materials from repair projects, etc.  Keeping your garage organized will let you see what you have at a glance and keep it from filling up with unnecessary purchases because the fertilizer got buried under a pile of craft boxes left over from the last major patio upgrade.  Go through your garage periodically and toss out what is irreparably broken, expired, or otherwise completely unusable.  Give away or hold a garage sale for stuff that is in good condition but not used anymore, grown out of, etc.  You might even earn money from your garage this way, not merely save it.

Organizing the AtticThe Attic/Shed/Crawl space
The longer you live in a place, the more likely you are to accumulate things and the more prone to losing and replacing things you’ll become.  Just as with the garage, go through these areas periodically to remind yourself what’s there, clean out what’s not needed anymore, and rearrange the stuff you do need so that you don’t forget you have it the next time the need comes up.

Organization saves both time and money.  Whether you are organizing your time, or organizing your things, knowing what you have, how much, how long it’s good for, etc will go a long way to keeping money in your pocketbook.

Entire books have been written about time management.  Just as many if not more have been written about organizing everything from your kitchen to your garden shed and everything in between.  You can find entire isles of products aimed at helping you get organized around your home from storage units under the bed to closet organizers to shelving units, you name it!  The trick is using all these aids wisely and not spend more than you’re saving.

What if a Simple Concept Called “Storage” Could save Money? Part 2: Your Clothes

Interesting question, huh? But the ramifications of what I’m about to share may just aid in putting you on the road to more savings. Let’s consider several types of storage that can aid in this endeavour:

Last week, we covered several types of food storage. This week we’ll cover clothing storage, beginning in your closet!

Many articles have been written about closet organization. Companies such as Canadian Tire sell DIY closet organizers that you can install and configure yourself. The goal is to arrange your clothing so you always have easy access to it. When it comes to saving money with your clothing, the other major reason for keeping an organized closet is to keep yourself from buying clothing you already have. You need roughly three changes of clothing for each season at a minimum. If you are the type to dress up for various occasions, you may want an additional three changes of dress clothes for each of the four seasons as well. Any more of this and you’re spending based on wants now and not needs.
When you can see at a glance what you have in your closet, you’ll reduce the impulse to run to the store to buy more. Being able to see what you have also means you have room to manage the freshness of your hanging clothes via mothball bags hung on hangers or placed on shelves to further ensure your clothing is not enjoyed by the local bug population. This too will reduce the need to head out and buy more clothing.

dresser storageDresser
Similar suggestions exist for managing your dresser drawers. Good clothing management begins with optimal folding techniques. You can find various folding instructions for everything from socks to shirts to pants and even linens for your linen closet that will not only keep your clothing looking nice, but allow you to pack more into smaller spaces. Just like your closet, you should organize your drawers so that you know what you have at a glance. Seasonal clothing gets stacked at the back of the drawers to make room for the current season’s outfits up front. Again, you only need a minimum of three changes of clothing to get through a week of showering roughly every other day or so. Only those who have incredibly dirty jobs need more clothing than this. Anything above this is in the want category. Wants cost money too and can eat away at your family budget. Knowing what you have available will, ideally, lower your perceived need to always get a new outfit, saving you money.

Proper care and storage of your clothing (see the hotwater article) will reduce how quickly your clothing breaks down and requires replacing. Clothes do age and reach a point of no repair. Only at that point should you consider going out to buy more clothing.

If you are the type to store your clothing in cubbies, do the same thing you would do for drawer storage, keeping in mind the front is fully open. In either case, a well-organized and properly folded drawer or cubby will have room for mothball bags as well, so that critters getting into those areas won’t eat and prematurely wear out your clothing.

These concepts can be applied to other areas of the home as well, such as the gardening shed, the garage, Christmas storage, etc. The idea is to organize your home’s closets, cupboards, shelving, cubbies, etc, in such a manner that:

  • a) nothing spoils
  • b) things are used up before they go bad
  • c) clothing doesn’t wear out before its time
  • d) impulse buying is reduced to a minimum
  • e) items aren’t “replaced” because you can already see that you have them.

What if a Simple Concept Called “Storage” Could Save Money? Part 1: Your Food

Interesting question, huh? But the ramifications of what I’m about to share may just aid in putting you on the road to more savings. Let’s consider several types of storage that can aid in this endeavour:

In this article, we’ll cover types of food storage. We’ll cover clothing storage in the next article.

Songdove Books - Author's freezerFreezing your food
Many articles have been written about sealing your food properly when placing them into storage, but what about accessibility? I saw a Pinterest photo how-to about ensuring you don’t have to thaw out and cook an entire frozen block of meat just to have homemade hamburger patties. That how-to spawned this article.

The first step in managing your frozen food, is solidly related to how you buy it at the store. If you buy large portions of meat that are already frozen, you won’t be able to engage in the money-saving tips mentioned here. Try to buy your meat fresh. Buy it in bulk, but buy it fresh.

Your second step occurs when you get your fresh meat home. Consider just how much meat is necessary at each mealtime, then break up the fresh meat package into meal-sized portions. If you have a family of three, each portion will include enough meat for all three of you at one meal. Carefully wrap each portion so that no meat is exposed and juices stay trapped within the package.

Your third step occurs as you open the door of your freezer. This step is the same whether discussing a deep-freeze, or a little freezer at the top of your fridge. Older purchases must be brought forward and the newer purchases placed in the back. This ensures that meat is eaten within it’s best-by date, or within a reasonable time frame after that. Meat can suffer freezer-burn if left too long, and should be thrown out when that appears. Allowing freezer-burn throws your hard-earned money in the trash. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of throwing my money in the garbage can! If I paid for it, I want it eaten, not wasted. If someone else paid for it, I want it eaten and not wasted.

Canned and boxed goods (see top image) also need care and attention when storing for later access. While it is quite true that canned goods and dry packaged goods last a very long time, it is also true that improper storage can waste them just as much as wasted frozen foods. This is perhaps more true of canned goods than of packaged goods. The danger with canned food in storage, relates to a) what is in the can and b) whether or not the can has been damaged in any way. A dented can should have its contents eaten sooner than later to avoid the contents becoming contaminated and growing such problems as botulism. If the can is bulging, toss it out! The contents have already begun to grow unwanted bacteria and the food is spoiled. If neither of these conditions exist, then the big point to cover when storing these forms of food, is placing newer purchases at the back of the shelf and bringing the older purchases forward.

Bringing older purchases to the front allows the food to be eaten in a timely manner and prevents the food from going past it’s best-before date. Some people are more sensitive to how foods taste following the best-before date than others. If you are the sensitive type, arranging your shelving in this manner will always ensure you are not eating anything that tastes old or stale. For the rest of us who will eat almost anything provided it isn’t growing, managing your dry food storage in this way merely keeps you from tossing out food that could have been eaten before it went bad. Either way, you’re saving money by ensuring you eat food while it is good.

Songdove Books - fridgeRefrigerated foods
Refrigerated foods follow similar guidelines to the above methods of food storage, with the added concern that refrigerated foods generally have a shorter shelf-life. Their ability to go bad before or after the best-before date will be contingent on how cold the fridge is, how often it’s accessed in hot climates, and whether or not it gets pushed to the back and forgotten. Some fridges come with shelving systems that allow for greater organization than others. For those that have little to no shelving assistance, you are the one required to remember why you placed something where you did, and keep it there. Educating the household on the importance of this is crucial!

Older foods should be near the front while newer foods should be near the back. The only time this won’t be true is if the back of your fridge tends to freeze things. Your point of organization then will stop around the middle of the shelf instead of going all the way back for leafy items, vegetables, fruit, etc. Breads, cheeses, and other items that can handle accidental freezing can be placed near the back of such fridges.

The goal of organizing your fridge in this manner is again, to save money and not throw it in the trash can or compost heap. Taking care to only buy enough perishables to last till the next grocery run also avoids unnecessary spoilage. Plan your grocery trips so that you aren’t overstocking or understocking your fridge.

The concept of saving money by proper organization extends beyond food to other areas of the home as well. Take clothing as yet another example. We’ll cover that in our next article.

Pour a Little Cold Water on Your Personal Finances!

Sometimes finances, particularly personal or domestic finances, gets to be a very  hot topic!  Heated arguments, er, debates, can inflame discussions so badly that nothing gets accomplished.  It may be time to add a little cold water.

Seriously.  Laundry is the worst offender.  Most loads of wash can now be handled quite well on the cold water cycle, rather than the hot water cycle.  Stains don’t get set in as badly, clothes don’t shrink as readily, the hot water tank doesn’t have to work as hard or as often to keep hot water available,  and money is saved in the process.

This one trick has also saved money at the clothing store or thrift store as well.  You’ll be amazed at how many care-tags on clothing say to wash in cool or cold water.  When I was growing up, such clothing was lumped into the “special care” category, but these days, the tag that says to wash in hot water should be in the “special care” category instead.

Using hot water to wash clothing or linens should be reserved for those times when you’re disinfecting the house, killing pests, etcetera.

Hot water showers should be kept to under 10 minutes as well.  Figure out time-saving methods to get clean that don’t involve standing there letting the hot water rush over you.  A little time management combined with a little task management in this very private aspect of life can also mean the difference between a constantly-working hot water tank and money saved on your gas or electrical bill (depending on how your tank is fueled).

Choosing to shower every other day not only will save your hot water bill, but will also be kinder to your hair and skin.  Many people are unaware that their societal habit of showering every single day is actually contributing to their dry skin and straw hair.  A whole industry has sprung up offering body creams, hand and face creams, lotions, oils, etc. in an effort to continue perpetrating the myth that you MUST shower every single day!  But I have news for you!  Unless you have a severe health issue or work in an absolutely filthy job, you do NOT need to shower every single day!

Not regularly stripping your body of its needed oils will reduce your need to buy supporting products to rehydrate and remoisturize.  When you let your body do what it was designed to do instead of interfering with it every day, you’ll save money in the personal care section of your favourite grocery store.

If we combine the two suggestions above with one more, the comment earlier about saving money at the clothing store will become even more apparent.  I’m talking about only changing your daily outfit when you shower, or when it’s too soiled for presentable use, such as receiving a stain, heavily sweated in, etc.  The other social taboo seems to be wearing your clothes for two days in a row, or more.  This social behaviour is wearing out clothing unnecessarily fast.  When clothes are constantly going through the washing machine, the fibers wear out, colours fade, and usability lowers faster than if the clothes only entered the wash once a week or less often than that.  Much of our socially-accepted/expected behaviours when it comes to cleanliness and presentability are unnecessary.  Is it important to be clean? Yes!  Must your clothes be presentable? Yes! Should you wear something different every day? No! Does being clean mean showering every day? For most people the answer is also no! The truth is, most people don’t care what you’re wearing, only about their interaction with you.  The rare person might be turned off by your thrifty behaviour and appearance, but most people honestly don’t care if you wore the same clothes three days in a row. (I live out this test on a regular basis)

Saving on your hot water bill will by extension, save money on your clothing bill and your personal care bill as well.  Gotta love it when addressing one issue solves several others in one fell-swoop!

Quick CashCrate Update!

Just wanted to share a short update on CashCrate.

I am now awaiting my second $20 cheque as noted in the earnings banner here:

I’ve also received three referrals now as well, meaning I will begin to earn commissions once they start getting their first cheques.  This isn’t an income-replacement by any means, but pennies add up!

If you want to join me, click the banner to sign up.  You won’t qualify for surveys every day.  But between the 3 cent daily check-in, and the surveys you DO qualify for, you will get paid for sharing your opinion.

Sometimes the check-in button doesn’t let you click the offer.  When that happens, reload the CashCrate page and try again.  Sometimes it works right away, other times it takes a few tries.  If you think you should be paid for telling companies what you value, then come join me.

CAUTION!!! Doing the offers can be a great way to quickly increase your account balance!  However, software installs “call home” which will cause your antivirus program to flag it as an intruder.  As a technician by day, software that “calls home” is often considered spyware.  The purpose of offered software calling home is so they can track that you have indeed kept the software active on your system for the prescribed length of time, whether that’s two weeks or three days or whatever time length the offer set before issuing payment.  Just be warned, if you don’t want software on your system “calling home” all the time, you may want to avoid offers that pay for downloading and using their programs.

Save Money With a Careful Eye at the Thrift Store!

Thrift stores get scoffed at, made fun of, treated like second-class citizens, and worse.  There is one thrift store where I live that sees its busiest time of year at Halloween!  But your local thrift store has so much more to offer you than gardening clothes and costume material.

My favourite place to shop is the Salvation Army Thrift store.  This store has been a revolving door for my family as we bring clothes the kids grew out of, then buy what they need.  One time, a pair of jeans my daughter found ended up going back to the thrift store a couple years later, still in wearable condition!

We have discovered that living in a an affluent city such as Kelowna means that people give away the most amazing things!  I have a long fur vest that I paid roughly $25 for one year, that would have cost 5 times that new on a department store rack.  My daughter found a two-piece winter coat that allows her to remove the inner lining to use as a spring jacket in its own right.  We paid less than $15 for it at the store that gets halloween business.  A blender I bought from the same store a couple years ago is still working fine.  The toaster I’ve written about twice now, was bought from the Salvation Army Thrift Store, meaning it was used when we got it, and all these years later it finally died!

If you’re concerned about brand-name clothing, my daughter just recently picked up a Levi’s and another pair of designer jeans for roughly $5 each at Salvation Army as well.  You seriously never know what you’ll find when you show up, but the quality of stuff people give away will blow your mind!

Next time you need to go buy another pair of jeans, tops, skirts, yarn, dishes, linens, furniture even, check out your local thrift store first!  A set of dining chairs fits my redone table top extremely well!

There is no need to hit department stores unless you need an item “yesterday” or can’t find it in the second-hand stores by the time you need it!  $40 formerly spent on a single pair of jeans will get you several pairs plus a few shirts to go with them.

Help your wallet smile and take advantage of the amazing generousity of others who give away name-brand stuff, sometimes with the tags still on.  Dress well for a fraction of the price!