It sounds easy – obvious even. But really knowing what you’ve got is a quick way to help you spend less. Through several hard-core bouts of decluttering I’ve discovered a lot of things that I had simply forgotten about. By putting them all together and storing them properly I can see exactly what I’ve got. Through the year things have got a bit muddled so I’ll be going through my various drawers and storage boxes again as a reminder. I find that knowing how much I already have can nip any unplanned spending in the bud. There are only so many notepads, bags, earrings and so on that one person needs!
Here are some examples of what I mean – a bit random and disconnected as they might seem:
- Stationery: Having been a long term stationery junkie I discovered I had A LOT of supplies and wouldn’t need to replenish them for a long time. I cleared a couple of shelves in a (very small!) cupboard so I would be able to see what I had and know where to find things when I needed them. I was amazed by how many notepads, pens and cards I had. I’ve been keeping one notepad handy at a time instead of having several on the go. When it runs out I throw it away and fetch a new, or slightly used, one from the cupboard. I doubt I’ll need to buy a biro for 10 years or more! Here’s what I found when I did my first big stationery clear-up.
- Make-up: get it all together, clear out the junk and rotate it around to make sure you get the most out of what you’ve already invested in. More on this on a later post though…
- Clothes: I have got rid of six bin bags of clothes this year. Six! And I was never a massive clothes shopper in the first place. I took the unwanted stuff to chairty shops after letting my colleagues pick out what they wanted first. More organised/motivated people than me could easily have made some money by selling it all on ebay or at a car boot sale. Personally I just wanted it out of the house in a way that it wouldn’t go to waste. By clearing out all of the stuff I didn’t really like or feel comfortable in I now have a collection of clothes that are just right. It also means that, if I’m tempted to shop, I can see realistically what I might actually need and what I don’t.
- Accessories: I have lots. And lots. I’ve reorganised my accessory storage, which made me realise how many lovely things I already have – hence don’t need to go out and buy new things very often. I now have an entire drawer dedicated to scarves which I can sort through easily, a jewellery box and several little pots for earrings and so on. I have a rummage quite often to remind myself of what I’ve got.
- Food: Yes, that stuff lurking at the back of the cupboard and in the freezer. Bin out of date stuff and give away the things you bought on a whim but know you’ll never use. Get all of the stuff nearing its use by date on one shelf or somewhere where you can’t miss it and incorporate these items into your meal plans to make sure the money you’ve already spent on it doesn’t go to waste (and to save spending more than you need to on your food shopping).
- Books: I seem to buy books and then forget about them. I’ve got around this by reorganising my book collection (though this, like everything else, seems to be an ongoing proccess) so that I have a single shelf dedicated to books I own but haven’t actually read. This means I know exactly where to go when I want to read something ‘new’ and it isn’t a shop!
- DIY stuff: I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve bought new paint brushes and so on, only to discover usable ones in the back of cupboards. It is really worth getting a plastic storage box for all of this stuff so you can check it before deciding if you really need to go out and purchase something. I need to get a bit more organised on this.
- Play stuff: You know what I mean – cameras, ‘how to’ books, board games, craft supplies. All that stuff we accumulate to learn about or entertain ourselves with and then forget about. Over the next few days I’m going to clear out part of our sideboard (which I don’t use for a posh dinner service because, well, I don’t have one) and put it all together so I know where to find it all.
- Kitchen equipment: I got rid of a few gadgets that I was clearly never going to use. I also stripped down our collections of bowls, crockery and utensils to just those things I might realistically need. Stuff that only gets used occasionally lives at the back of the cupboards to make space at the front for the things that get used more often. I enjoy cooking and baking much more than I used to and I know this is largely down to how much easier my kitchen is to use now I can find everything!
- Bags: My bag collection was another victim of my decluttering this year. I got rid of loads. I still have, er, quite a few it seems. I have three that I rotate for work depending on the season or if I’m bored. I also have a couple of weekend bags (one casual, one smart) and several fabric bags that are great for trips to the shops or the library. I discovered quite a few forgotten items. Some I had forgotten because they weren’t that great (hence were taken promptly to the charity shop) but the bags that survived the cull now get used regularly.
I have found that, by knowing what I already have, I not only spend less (because I’ve realised I don’t need much more than I’ve already got) but I’m also using things more, hence making the most of my previous investments!