One of my ‘categories’ in the 100 day challenge was ‘Making the most of what I already have’. Doing this plays a big part in the move towards spending less. My recent decluttering bender (still a work in progress) not only made me realise how much stuff I had that I didn’t need or want anymore but also made me realise how much stuff I had that I liked but just wasn’t using. This included everything from items of clothing to cake tins. When you’ve got a lot of ‘stuff’ it tends to get into a big mess – you can’t find anything. Once you’ve eliminated a lot of the clutter you suddenly find a load of great stuff that you just forgot you had. It’s like getting a host of new things to play with!
I generally found that the things I could make better use of were either items I had forgotten about or things that needed to be mended, such as:
- Mending clothes: By doing very small and easy things, like replacing buttons and sewing on beads, I brought a few items of clothing back to life. They were in perfectly good condition but I never wore them because, well…they needed mending. It’s a good idea to go through all of those drawers and pull out everything you don’t wear because it needs a hem sewing back up or a button sewing back on and just do it. It really doesn’t take long. I equipped myself with nothing more sophisticated than a single needle, some black cotton and a pair of kitchen scissors.
- Looking after your shoes: When Woolworths closed I bought a half-price shoe polishing kit that contained brown, black and clear shoe polish along with a cloth and a brush. There were a couple of pairs of shoes I hardly wore because they were scuffed but they looked as good as new once they had had a polish. I also found a great place locally that re-heels shoes. I took one pair in (again, I hadn’t worn them for over a year) and had them re-heeled for £7.50. Much, much cheaper than buying a new pair. That said, some shoes are beyond a bit of TLC, in which case – bite the bullet and get rid of them!
- Books: I love buying books and own a huge amount that I have never read. Despite this I keep buying more and more! I cleared a shelf on a bookcase and put all of my unread books together. Since I did this I’ve spent a lot less on books as I know I have a great selection ready and waiting and I don’t have to root around trying to find them. Also, I have a library card which I make full use of!
- Stationery: I know I’m not alone in buying lots of notepads. I decided not to buy anymore until they were all used up. I went through the house and got them all together, then ripped out and recycled all of the pages that had been used. This created a massive pile of ‘new’ notepads, (even though some only had a few pages left in them).
- Bathroom products: I had masses and masses of bathroom and beauty products. Sorting through it all really taught me where a lot of my spare cash had been going. Boots was always one of my favourite lunch break destinations. In January I resolved not to buy anymore products until something ran out. I prefer shower gel over soap but at the end of the day it does the same job. I had 6 or 7 soaps that had come with gift packs etc and never used. My supply is still going! I’ve had to replace very little so far. I still like the idea of buying this stuff. But I am sticking to the plan of buying no more until I actually need to.
- Food: I had a good sort out of my kitchen cupboards and found a lot of products coming towards their use by dates so I’ve been making a real effort to use them up before they go off. I’ve also been making a meal plan every week which means I know exactly what I need to get when I go food shopping. Doing this results in very little waste. I used to end up throwing a lot of food out which is wasteful on more levels than I can go into. Surfice it to say that these days, when I empty our compost bin (it gets collected where we live), it only contains tea bags, apple cores, vegetable peelings and egg shells.
I know a lot of folk are making the most of what they have in other ways too. Some are selling the fruits of their decluttering missions and generating a bit of tax-free income while others (the clever, crafty ones) have made gorgeous cushion covers from scrap fabric and old shirts. I know one man who can take a piece of wood and turn it into a unique shelf or even a simple piece of furniture. I read a great book about living without a salary (see my review under ‘Shoestring reading’) which had some amazing ideas in it. It’s quite addictive once you start thinking about how you can readapt or rediscover things you already have. I’m keen to find more ways of making the most of what I’ve got so…
Any ideas?? How have you been making the most of what you’ve got? Re-organising things? Mending stuff? Finding ways of making things go further? I want to hear from you!