Frugality isn’t just all about saving money. I mean, at its core, I guess it is, but there is more to frugality than just keeping a sharp eye on your checkbook balance. Not being organized can actually end up with you spending more than you need to.
For instance, say you have some stacks of books lying around that you’ve been meaning to find a place for. You head to the store and buy a couple of bookcases that are on sale. Maybe you even had a coupon on top of that! Great savings, huh? But then you get home and find out that one of the bookcases is a couple of inches too long for your wall and lies over the doorjamb. And even though the bookcases looked big in the store, it turns out all of your books won’t fit on them! You shove the extras on top of the bookcases and intend to buy some bookends, but you’re disappointed in how things have gone.
By organizing first you can avoid this situation. You can set aside some time—just ten minutes!—before you head to the store. Look at your books and pick out the ones you never, ever read, and realistically never will. Put them in a box to donate or give away. Believe me, I love books and my husband is a librarian, so I know how hard this can be, but it is also hard to be frugal when you have too much stuff. After you’ve pared down your collection, whip out a measuring tape and measure your space. Bring it along to the store, and measure those shelves that are on sale. If they won’t fit—don’t buy them! It’s not really saving money if the shelves don’t fit and you hate how cluttered they will look trying to squeeze them on the wall anyway. By taking just a few minutes to organize and measure your space—and of course, this goes for far more than just books—you can maximize y our frugality by not buying things you don’t actually have the space for.
Planning has many benefits. It keeps us on a calm, organized, and on schedule. We know what most of our days will bring and gives us a sense of security. It also saves us time, resources and stress.
Saving time doesn’t just save time. It save money. It gives us the time to spend with our children and to do the things we actually want to do. Tools for time management can be very expensive. They can also be free. A good example is that many email accounts come with a calendar that then can break down your day. Some even have the weather built into your daily calendar check.
It’s good to know what the weather will be like the next day so that you can plan appropriate travel time into your schedule. It’s also important to check traffic patterns before leaving for work. You may find you need to leave early or take another route to work. This can keep you from wasting gas, sitting in traffic, and getting to work late even though you left on time.
Plan for wellness check ups, doctor’s appointments, and regular car maintenance in advance. On the day of your appointment schedule the next appointment. In doing so, you know that expense is coming months in advance and you can start planning for it months in advance rather than at the last minute.
Having a grocery list ensures that you have food in your home. Having a meal plan ensures those ingredients come together to create a meal. You can have a strict plan that follows a day by day menu for your meals. You could also have a soft plan where you have all the ingredients for certain recipes, but you still choose which recipe to use today rather than earlier that week or month.
Planning your meals ahead also gives you a better chance of making healthy meals. You can look up recipes and check nutritional value and calorie content. A good website for this is sparkpeople.com. It has all the recipes and meal planning tools in one spot.
Children are endearing, but come up a little short understanding the concept or need for organization. As a result, you may be organizing only to find your little one has destroyed your system. It’s not their fault… well, it is, but you can’t lose patience. Instead try a few of these tips.
Cards, Keys, Legal Documents
When you have children being organized isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Ours have a tendency to move things. We don’t keep items of importance in our wallets anymore. Even kept out of reach we end up replacing lost driver licenses, keys, and check cards. Our saving grace has often been that our wallets aren’t usually hit by the Toddle Squad at the same time.
Instead of keeping things in our wallets we now keep them in binders. Keys can be locked into the rings. Cards can go in a pencil bag instead of a wallet while at home. You are far more likely to notice a binder missing when a toddler hauls it off than a wallet. We then either refill the wallets before we leave the house or take the entire binder with us, depending on how many important documents we need. What we don’t end up doing is spending money on replicas of our cards, keys, and legal documents.
Bills come before they need to be paid by about two weeks. If you have a little one who loves to check the mail but may not bring all of it back, try this. Have something in the mail for them. The more items in the mail they have for themselves (like magazines, books, or toys that all can be ordered on free sample sites) the less interested they will be in your mail. Make it a rule to sort mail only after you get in the house and you are set. Another thing you could do is go paperless. Just set up a folder in your email for your bills, mark them unread until you pay them, and you’re all set.
How do you keep organized with little ones in the house?
I like the use of Feng Shui in my home. I feel it’s a good way to organize, remove clutter from my home, and decorate in a way that gives us an open feeling in our living space rather than a cluttered one. I, however, don’t have a budget that allows me to do all I want with my home, so here are a few ways I improvise When using Feng Shui.
Moving My Furniture
I think one of the best things for me has been moving my furniture. I can make my room face which ever direction I need it to. I put my couch diagonal across a corner, instead of against a wall. The way a room is set up also helps me be mindful of certain goals in my life because each space is a symbol for a part of my life or attributes I want to cultivate or change in myself. Besides, it’s free to move furniture and sometimes a change is all i need to feel better about my living space.
Not all home decorations have to cost money. In fact in Feng Shui it is preferred that natural materials are used. Rocks, soil or charcoal can be put in a clay pot. Use colored leaves to depict the color of fire. One sign of Feng Shui even recommends sea salt in a bowl as a decoration.
It’s best to use items that have a function instead of another figurine that gathers dust. Try pots, boxes or furniture with storage capacity. This could be for pens, pictures or blankets. Plants can be specifically for cooking or a really nice way to have cat grass around the house. This keeps clutter off the counter, helps eliminate junk drawers and keeps me organized
Like most people, my year seems to start at the beginning of the school year. Traditional calendars do not follow suit, but on VistaPrint you can start your calendar on any month you like! Finally, a calendar that will make sense for me. Amazing what you can do when you’re able to customize your own products.
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Are you like me and still have a lot of special VHS tapes that you can’t bear to part with? (Hello, old home movies!) On EverSave.com you can get this awesome software and little gadget that will give you the tools you need to tranfer your VHS tapes to DVD and computer files (WMA) so you can finally declutter and let go of those bulky VHS tapes but keep your memories!