Back in the 1800’s, America had a gold rush out in California. You’ve read about it in all the history books and you know it was mass hysteria back in those days as people packed up their belongings and headed west. It was exciting but a real hardship to get out there, get settled, and have the determination and strength to stake your claim. But it was worth it when you hit the main line and cashed out!
Today in 2016 there’s no striking gold out in California, but have you considered the gold you might find right inside your own home? In America today, we’re wasting tons of money, so much so that you can compare stopping that with discovering gold inside the 4 walls where you reside. We all are guilty of wasting our money and so here’s a short list on how you can strike gold starting right now by decluttering your home.
Dig Into Your Freezer!
The typical American family stocks lots of perishables in their freezers. Constantly stuffing it with some of the “opportune buys” they make at the supermarket or wholesale clubs. But…what happens to that stuff over time? In so many cases there are significant amounts of food products that become sheer waste. Why does that happen?
It happens for a number of reasons. First of all, we have a lot of frozen food and we forget sometimes it’s there. How? For one reason, we don’t wrap and label things properly. We use the wrong types of bags. Many items eventually suffer “freezer burn” and we forget to label and date things. We don’t check our supplies before we shop and sometimes buy the same products we don’t really need this time around. If we wrapped, dated, and organized properly, the typical American family of four could save about $2,000 a year! It’s fairly simple to get real freezer bags and cut up proper sized portions before wrapping and freezing. Get yourself a marking pen to date and label everything properly. Always check the rotation of the foods you’ve frozen so that you know when things need to be used and replaced.
By the way, all of this holds true for your cupboard and cabinets too. While there’s no freezer burn involved, you can bet that you overpurchased, underused and/or completely forgot some of you stored goods. Can you say 4 year old jar of applesauce? Stake your claim to gold right in your kitchen!
Blow Up Your Medicine Cabinet!
Would you believe that the typical American’s medicine cabinet (and yes the area under your bathroom sink too!) contains over $1,500 worth of prescriptions, over-the-counter meds, lotions, salves, creams, and beauty and health products at any given time? We spend on all these things and more at the drug stores and supermarkets. Everyplace we see things that we think will help us look, feel, and even smell better.
But here’s the thing. Almost all of these things we swear we need have expiration dates and thus become out of date and useless fairly quickly. I’m betting if you were to rummage through those cabinets right now you’d find old, almost empty or empty, expired, and gross things that should have been thrown out months or even years ago! How did that happen?
For one thing we overbuy. We can’t find those Q-tips and we just buy another box. That old med you took last year when you sprained your ankle is still sitting in the cabinet with 4 pills in it despite the fact you’ll never use those again. That cologne you bought on you cruise to the Bahamas in 1999 is still lingering in the cabinet. And so on and so on.
We’re so conscious of saving with coupons and sale flyers that we overbuy and then put it in places we can’t remember. How many times do you ask, “where’s the aspirin?”, only to find 3 bottles of everything but! How to save? Simply be aware of what you have and what you really use and need. Don’t buy on impulse and be sure to keep everything organized.
Think of health and beauty aids as essentials only! You can start over and organize with tons less and you’ll never miss the mess and waste.
Cull Your Closet!
Trying to find that blouse that goes perfectly with the pants you bought last week? Where are the sweaters that you packed last May for the winter? Wow, I never wore that shirt, did I? It still has the tags on it from 2 summers ago. You get the idea. If your closet is typical, it’s packed to the gills with stuff that you haven’t worn, never wear, and never will wear no matter what! Typically, we all have thousands invested in our wardrobes and most of us wear the same things all the time despite the fact that we keep on buying when we see something we like. I think it has a little to do with us as we age. I know I’m guilty of having T-shirts from everyplace I have ever been. Do you think I’m ever going to wear that “Comin’ Back for the Festival Mon” shirt I got in Jamaica in 1986? (Would it even fit?? And hasn’t the festival happened by now?!?)
How you beat it is pretty simple. First, take a day (or a weekend if necessary) to sort out the things you just won’t ever use again. This is a perfect way to get a donation together for your favorite charity and get yourself a nice tax deduction at the same time. Or, if you are really into gold mining, have yourself a garage sale (see the next section) and sell your clothes rather than just toss them. It can really be a fun way to spend a weekend with the family and guaranteed you make a few bucks or even hundreds depending how much you abused your wallet over the years. In the process, declutter and feel good about that too.
Now, after you’re all done, you are in a better place to never do the same thing again!
Rip Apart Your Garage!
Although I no longer have a garage (condo living in the 21st century), I remember having one and the fear of trying to find anything in there. As your family grows, you’re certain to accumulate all kinds of things from tools to toys and from pieces of lumber to the ceramic tiles you used to do the bathroom 7 years ago. This is where the garage sale begins along with the clothes and junk you have liberated from inside your house. Make a few cardboard signs and post them around the neighborhood (and/or put up some online listings) and get out the lawn chairs, the boom box (ok I’m old!), and sit around watching the neighbors rummage through your old stuff. Relish in the fact that soon they will be stuffing your useless things into their closets and garages only to find themselves selling or donating them down the road as well.
If you come across some big ticket items, you may want to sell those separately and make back some of those lost dollars. Try putting an ad on Craigslist or list it on eBay.
All in all, you are likely sitting on a huge vein of gold for yourself and your family. There’s no doubt in my mind that there are thousands of dollars to be saved down the road if you avoid the things that got you here in the first place. You can make a few bucks in the interim, but the goal is this…don’t let yourself get so lazy that you have to dig a gold mine in your own home ever again.
So, do you have some decluttering to do? What’s your best tip to keep organized?
Image courtesy of pakorn at freedigitalphotos.net (with changes)