20 Ways to Save More Money #8 – Waste Less

20-ways-to-save-more-money

If you are just tuning in to the series this is what you’ve missed as far as tasks:

#1 – Create Short and Long Term Goals
#2 – Make a Budget
#3 – Make a List of Highest Priced and Most Used Items
#4 – Create a Low Inventory List and Maintain It
#5 – Create a Sensible Stockpile
$6 – Learn How to Make a Weekly Meal Plan
#7 – Keep an Organized Kitchen

And now we are on #8. Up until this point, I’ve given you some little tasks to do to help you save money long-term. We are now going to move on to some ways we can change the way we live/shop to help you save some money.

When I asked what was something that you’d like to save money on, the top answer overall was groceries. We are all looking for ways to save on produce, meat and just food in general. Some of you also lump household items in that category, as well. We want lower prices, hot coupons, etc. And while we can find those deals and coupons there’s also something we can do in the meantime to stretch our dollars farther—and that’s to waste less of what we buy!

This really hits home to most of us when we go to clean out our fridge, freezer and our pantries. We have canned goods that expired months before. We left open a bag of chips that now taste stale. And our produce drawer looks like we are operating our own mold factory.

avocado-keepers

But moving forward, we waste less! And here are some tips on how to do that:

1) Set limits on snacks and cereal. Instead of having 5 bags of chips and cereal boxes open with the potential to go stale, only allow 3. Buy yourself 3 “chip clips” that are magnetic. If there’s a clip on the fridge, you can open a new bag of chips. If you already see 3 boxes of cereal open, no more should be broken into.

2) Set a day once a quarter where you go through your pantry and look for “soon expiring” foods. (To make it easy, do it on the first day of every new season; Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter) Keep a separate shelf in your pantry for these foods and work them into your weekly menu plan.

3) Set one day a week (preferably the day before garbage night) and go through your fridge looking for things that need to be used. Make a list on the fridge and have your family eat those things on the list first. Work everything else into your menu plan. Don’t let yourself get down if something spoiled. Just make a mental note to either not buy so much of those types of items or to do better next time.

4) Invest in storage containers so you can extend the life of your produce. These are the ones I recommend:

*Rubbermaid Produce Savers – Great for extending the life of your blueberries, strawberries, lettuce, watermelon, etc.

*Avocado Keeper – I’ve had half avocados in these for several days without them turning brown.

5) Keep a separate area in your fridge for leftovers. Do not let them get pushed to the back of your fridge! Try to use them for lunches or turn them into a new meal by adding a few ingredients.

6) Organize your freezer! If you open your freezer and don’t have a clue what’s in there, chances are things are going to become frost-bitten and forgot about.

7) Label your foods – I know you think you’ll know what something is later when you first freeze it but trust me, you may not! Date and label everything. Same goes for half-used jars of things like spaghetti sauce in your fridge. Take a Sharpie and put the date you used it on the lid so you can try to finish using it before it goes bad. Some dips I buy say “use within 7 days of opening”–label those types of things, as well.

8) Take less when you dish up your dinner plates. You really shouldn’t force yourself to eat everything if you piled a plate up too high. Instead, get in the habit of taking a smaller portion and only going back for “seconds” after you’ve waited a few minutes.

9) Water Bottles – consider adding a water purifier to your tap, buying a water pitcher with filtration or ordering water delivery to reduce waste on them.

That should cover the waste factor on most food items. Moving on to household items:

1) Try to cut back on the amount of shampoo/laundry detergent, etc that you use. If you use a quarter-sized amount of shampoo, make it a nickle size and see if it has similar results. Often, we really do use more than we need. Same goes for laundry soap. Cut back until you find that point where quality is almost lost and stop there.

2) Kleenex – Teach your little kids that a Kleenex can be used more than one swipe when they have a cold. For allergies with minor sniffles, consider using a handkerchief.

3) Medicines – often times we take Tylenol for a headache when we are truly just dehydrated. Before you swallow some Tylenol, drink a glass of water. For allergies, try sipping on some hot tea first.

4) Paper Towels – So many have become papertowelaholics using them for every tiny little spill. You can read my post on how to cut-back on paper towels.

5) Ziploc Bags – Instead of using these for school lunches, invest in some Ziploc Divided Containers. I’ve used these for the past 3 years and love them! I rarely use sandwich bags for lunches now. For snacks on the go, invest in reusable sandwich bags. For freezer cooking, switch larger things to reusable freezer-safe containers.

These are just some of the ways to save you money on grocery/household items. Just keep looking for more and more ways to use less and keep cutting back on the amounts of the things you do use.

RECAP

1) Set limits on snacks/cereal.
2) Keep tabs on foods in your freezer/fridge/pantry with tips I provided.
3) Keep your fridge/freezer organized and foods labeled.
4) Invest in storage containers to extend the life of your produce.
5) Use your leftovers!
6) Take smaller portions at dinnertime and go back for seconds, if need be.
7) Continually use less of things and look for alternatives to help you reduce waste.

How Does This Save Me Money?

1) By making sure we use the food we have, it will reduce our grocery bills long-term.

2) We won’t need to buy our household items as often if we cut-back on our current usage. We often use too much!

3) Our food won’t be spoiling or expiring as we’ll be working them into our meal plans. We’ll also extend the life of our produce so we aren’t throwing money away because it’s not used in time.

While we can keep looking for those deals and coupons, wasting less of the products we buy and cutting back on over-usage will help us save money along the way. Sometimes we just have to change our habits and our lifestyle a little to save a bit more money! Stay tuned for more in this series next week!

20 Ways to Save More Money #7 – Keep an Organized Kitchen

20-ways-to-save-more-money

If you are just tuning in to the series this is what you’ve missed as far as tasks:

#1 – Create Short and Long Term Goals
#2 – Make a Budget
#3 – Make a List of Highest Priced and Most Used Items
#4 – Create a Low Inventory List and Maintain It
#5 – Create a Sensible Stockpile
$6 – Learn How to Make a Weekly Meal Plan

So we are now finding items on a hot deal, we’ve built up a nice stockpile and we’ve started learning how to make a weekly meal plan. But guess what? Having a meal plan does no good if you aren’t capable of cooking in your kitchen. If your sink is full of dishes, pots and pans fall out when you open your cupboards and finding something in your fridge is like a game of hide and seek, you definitely won’t be motivated to do any home-cooked meals. I’ll be the first to admit this: there have been days where I’ve walked into my kitchen and felt so overwhelmed by the chaos that I immediately called my husband and asked him to pick up a pizza on his way home. It happens.

I think part of the problem is that they make too many awesome kitchen gadgets these days, right? :) There’s a tool for just about everything except something to help keep our kitchens clean. All those gadgets add up to space issues so the first task I’m going to give you is to take a good long look at them and weed out the ones you don’t need. If there are some that you use randomly, you can toss them in a container and store them elsewhere to free up space.

The next task? You are going to keep track of all those things that don’t fit in your dishwasher and clutter up your counter when you have no energy to hand-wash dishes at the end of a long day. Ask yourself if you truly need them or if there’s a dishwasher-safe option you could use instead. This will help reduce your clutter in the long-run.

Then comes the pans. They need to be easily accessible so pick and choose which ones you use the most and eliminate those you don’t. Trust me, you won’t want to cook if you have to battle with them every.single.night.

Move on to your baking cabinet. No one needs 300 cookie cutters. Or 20 mixing bowls. Keep your favorites and put the others in a bin to sell at a garage sale or something. Continue on with this process for the rest of your cabinets.

The last thing you should do is ask yourself if the current set-up of your kitchen works for you? Last year I completely re-arranged where things were in mine. I put the storage containers closer to the fridge. My baking goods were moved by the spot I stood at the most when I mixed up a batch of something. And my pans and spatulas and all that were moved right by my stove. It’s working out much better. Plus, I had fun watching my husband fumbling around trying to find stuff for awhile. :)

If you do a lot of homemade cooking, I recommend getting these Wall-Mounted Spice Racks. I have one in my kitchen for my most-used spices and two in my pantry for lesser-used ones. They are all in alphabetical order and it’s a breeze when it comes time to cook or when I need to see which ones I’m getting low on. There’s no more digging around searching for paprika only to find out it’s empty!

And I saved the best for last–your fridge/freezer. I look at my fridge as a place where things go to hide and mold, if I’m not careful. A few months ago I ordered some great organizational shelves to double my fridge space and it’s been a lot easier to keep track of everything. Now when I was talking about making that low inventory list and told you to wait on the fridge it would come soon….this is it. This is when you are going to tackle cleaning it out, organizing it and making notes of what you need to buy. Don’t forget to check condiments as those expiration dates sneak by us fast! Take time to pull everything out of your freezer, too, and put it back in a more organized way. Anything that isn’t labeled and looks like a science project needs to go!

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I enjoy cooking more now that my kitchen isn’t a battle as far as being organized and clean. In the end you may find that you will enjoy it more too once you get yours set-up in a way that’s more fitting to your cooking habits.

RECAP
1) Go through your kitchen gadgets and weed out those that only cause extra clutter.

2) Try to eliminate things that aren’t dishwasher safe or only cause you excess time when hand-washing dishes. Some pans might not fit this rule if you use them a lot.

3) Eliminate any pans that are only taking up space. You should keep only the ones you truly use!

4) Go through your baking supply cupboards and get rid of duplicates and re-organize.

5) Make sure your kitchen is set-up in a manner that allows the best accessibility for how you cook/bake.

6) Take time to clean out your fridge/freezer, toss out anything expired, re-organize and make notes of things you need to purchase.

When I got my kitchen set-up better it was almost like a cleansing process eliminating so much dinnertime stress!

How Does This Save Me Money?

1) You’ll be more likely to cook more meals at home if your kitchen is a warm and welcoming place and not something to battle. Add up all the money you spend each month on fast-food and/or carryout and it might surprise you!

2) You might bake more if you aren’t digging through duplicates upon duplicates of gadgets and things.

3) You won’t be throwing money away because things went bad in your fridge.

4) You might be able to freeze more in-season items at a better price if you have the freezer space to do so.

I’m hoping that if it isn’t already that you’ll take some time to make your kitchen a place that you can feel comfortable in and where you can make some great family memories by cooking and eating together each night! Stay tuned for more in this series this week!

Great American Backyard Campout on 6/28/14

great-american-backyard-campout

Saturday June 28, 2014 is the “Great American Backyard Campout” day. If you are looking for something fun to do with your family that weekend, why not make some new memories by camping under the stars? If you don’t have your own backyard, call up a friend that does and have your families camp together!

Every year since we thought the kids were old enough we’ve done a backyard camping day during the summer. The kids have such a great time and the best part is…if it starts to rain or the bugs get overwhelming, you just go back inside! (Not to mention, you still have the use of a clean toilet nearby!)

tent

Here’s a list of few things to consider picking up for your backyard camping:

1) Tent
2) Sleeping Bags
3) Air Mattress
4) Lawn Chairs
5) Lantern and Flashlights
6) Cooler and Water Jug
7) S’mores
8) Mosquito Spray, Sunblock, First-Aid Kit, etc.
9) Games, Magazines, Books, etc.

pie-iron

We actually have a little firepit where we roast hot dogs and marshmallows. And if you want to make a special treat, pick up a “Pudgie Pie Maker” that you can use to make sandwiches or little pies. All you need is bread and a can of pie filling. We tried these for the first time last year and they tasted like a warm apple pie straight out of the oven! Check out some cool Pudgie Pie Recipes on Pinterest!

Here are a few ideas of some fun to have during your backyard camping outing:

1) Play a game of tag. Better yet, play a game of flashlight tag!

2) Try to catch some fireflies.

3) Do a little stargazing and try to find some constellations

4) Make S’Mores and “Pudgie Pies”

5) Have a good chit-chat in front of the fire.

6) Bring out a board game and have a boys vs. girls battle

And here are some money-saving coupons for items you may buy:

$1.00 off any OFF! Personal Insect Repellent

$1 Off OFF! Personal Insect Repellant Coupon

$1.50 off any OFF! Clip-On™ Mosquito Repellent

$1.50 Off OFF! Clip-On Mosquito Repellent Coupon

$1.00 off JET-PUFFED, HONEY MAID, and HERSHEY's

$1 Off Jet-Puffed, Honey Maid and Hershey’s Coupon

$2.00 off any AVEENO Sun Care product

$2 Off Aveeno Sun Care Product Coupon

$1.00 off Energizer Brand Batteries or Flashlight

$1 Off Energizer Battteries or Flashlight Coupon

$0.75 off ONE (1) Reynolds Wrap Product

$.75 Off Reynolds Wrap Product Coupon – you can take some meat/veggies, wrap them in foil and cook them over the fire. Just use caution when you open them!

Save $1.50 when you buy any TWO (2) cans of Lucky Leaf® Pie Filling..Expires 7/6/2014.Save $1.50.

Also, SavingStar has an eCoupon that will earn you $1.50 back wyb 2 Lucky Leaf Pie Fillings that will come in handy for making those pudgie pies. I highly recommend the apple!

While the first year may be a bit of an investment if you don’t own your own tent and camping gear, it is a very frugal outing going forward as you can reuse everything annually. I hope you’ll try this fun way to camp if you haven’t already. Happy Camping if you do!

20 Ways to Save More Money #6 – Learn to Make a Weekly Meal Plan

20-ways-to-save-more-money

If you are just tuning in to the series this is what you’ve missed as far as tasks:

#1 – Create Short and Long Term Goals
#2 – Make a Budget
#3 – Make a List of Highest Priced and Most Used Items
#4 – Create a Low Inventory List and Maintain It
#5 – Create a Sensible Stockpile

So now your house is full of really useful items that you got at a hot price and you are sticking to your budget so you can meet your long-term goal. Or something like that. But those really useful items become really useless if you don’t actually use them. Say that 3 times fast! There is no point in saving money on items that will sit there and expire or just take up space. So you must learn how to turn them into even more savings. Yes, the savings continue! :)

Whenever I talk about making a weekly meal plan, it seems like the reactions are fairly divided. Some are excited to try it while others are immediately negative saying it will never work for them because they are too busy or only like to eat what they are hungry for that day, etc. But meal planning doesn’t have to be every.little.detail of your week. I like to do a high-level meal plan sometimes and this is what I mean by that.

There are times when I know my week is going to be fairly crazy. So instead of saying, “On Monday we’ll eat this, on Tuesday we’ll eat that” I just plan for 5 meals that can be decided upon the night before. Why 5? Because often you’ll have one day of leftovers and typically one day where you end up either dining out or dining away from home, such as a birthday party, etc. Before I plan my 5 meals, I take a look at the calendar. Do I have any days where I need a super quick meal or any days where I may be home all day and can use the crockpot, etc? I make sure and pick meals that fit the week. The night before, I take a minute to decide which one I’ll make of the 5 and pull out ingredients to defrost or whatever prep may need to be done.

Now the important thing to remember with such a high-level meal plan is not to forget to make a meal if you have leftovers in mind the next day. You can’t have leftovers if you don’t make the original meal. :) Our lunches are always fairly basic so I don’t really “plan” for those but I just make sure I have some ingredients on hand to make what we may need.

Even having this much of a meal plan in place is not only helpful and time-saving but it is money-saving, as well, as it greatly reduces your chances of ordering carryout or even choosing an unhealthier meal option. It can also save you from that extra trip to the store where you may buy more items than you need.

More Tips for Meal Planning:

1) Create a one-time “Master Meal” List where you have a list of all the meals you tend to make. This will make your decision process go a bit faster and you might see a meal you haven’t made recently.

2) Have “Back-up Meals” on hand just in case the original plan falls through for whatever reason. Things to consider: breakfast for dinner (eggs, toast and fruit), spaghetti with some steamed veggies or even a frozen pizza. We like to make “mini pizzas” on English muffins.

3) If you have a week where your meal plan doesn’t go according to your original plan, brush yourself off and try again. You might be halfway done if you still have last week’s meal ingredients still on-hand!

4) You can read my “Meal Planning: Tips for Success and How to Start” article I wrote last year that details everything a lot more.

RECAP

1) Decide what type of meal plan you want that week – detailed or “high-level” and work on planning out your meals.

2) Make sure in your planning process that you take a look at the food you already have on hand to make the most meals for the least amount of money.

3) Always have a “back-up meal” on hand just in case a meal that week doesn’t go according to the original plan.

4) Keep at it. Some weeks will work out better than others.

How Does This Save Me Money?

1) Having a plan in place will reduce your chances of stopping and picking up fast food or carryout – either of those things will cost a lot out-of-pocket!

2) You won’t need to spend so much time deciding every day what you need to make which can free up your time during the week for other things–things such as more couponing–which may earn/save you more money.

3) You can plan for a night of leftovers which will save you from having to pay for another meal and will make the most of the money you spent by eliminating waste.

4) You will be watching what items you have on hand that soon expire and use them for your meals so they don’t go to waste, as well.

5) You can reduce your grocery store trips which will reduce your chances of spending money on anything you don’t need.

It takes a little time to get used to figuring out what meal plans will work best for you. And each week may vary based on what events are going on in your life that week. Just keep trying your best and remember that every little bit counts and adds up to extra savings! Stay tuned for more in this series this week!

20 Ways to Save More Money – #5: Create a Sensible Stockpile

20-ways-to-save-more-money

If you are just tuning in to the series this is what you’ve missed as far as tasks:

#1 – Create Short and Long Term Goals
#2 – Make a Budget
#3 – Make a List of Highest Priced and Most Used Items
#4 – Create a Low Inventory List and Maintain It

At this point we should have an idea of the items we use most, which ones we are running low on and the amount of money that we can spend each month between re-stocking and weekly necessities.

I often hear people say that they don’t have the time, money or space to stockpile. But in more cases than not, that’s not true. When some people think of stockpiling, they think of garages full of stuff and that’s not what I’m here to teach you. I don’t live like that because I value my space and feel it’s unnecessary to have more than a 3-6 month supply of most things as the sales cycle frequently happen that often. There are times when I start to get a little nervous as I see myself almost running out of toothpaste or something but typically that same week there will be a hot stock-up price deal on them.

Learning to stockpile is just like anything else–it takes time to learn and you are more than likely going to make mistakes along the way. I once bought 15 bags of frozen vegetables that I got for free but then had no room to store meat when it was on a hot-price. When you do the math, I lost out overall. This is why you must always remember that free does not mean free. Your house/apt (wherever you live) should have a designated amount of space for a stockpile. And you must choose wisely on how you fill up that space.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the things you want to stockpile the most of are things that you use the most and are the highest priced that you can get a deal on. Things such as meat, in-season produce, cereal, laundry detergent, cleaning products, deodorant, dental care, shampoo, high-priced condiments, snacks, pop/soda, canned tomatoes and paper goods such as Ziploc bags, trash bags, paper towels and toilet paper. Each of you will have a different list but most of these items will probably be on them. If you do a lot of homemade cooking, spices, flour and sugar might be on your list.

I see people stockpile pasta a lot but when you think about it, it’s often on sale and not very high-priced to begin with. I usually just keep a box or two of the most used types such as spaghetti, elbow macaroni and penne on hand. Pasta boxes take up a lot of space that you could use for something else.

Now we are going to talk a bit about space issues. I used to live in an apartment and I know space is limited. But here’s how you can make the most of it. Take a look at your freezer to start off with. How many products do you have with boxes in there? Boxes take up a lot of freezer space and don’t bend well for storage. Sure, you need the directions. Just clip them and put them in a place for when you may need them. I keep mine in the drawer with the oven mitts. You can put those items in a container that stacks or take your chance and leave them in their packaging. You probably freed up a bit of space.

Now look at any duplicates you may have. Try to use up some this week so you can have more space for things like a meat sale or produce you can freeze. I freeze a lot of fruit like strawberries and blueberries in the summer as the prices skyrocket in the winter. We use them for pancakes/waffles/smoothies, etc.

Moving on to pantry space. If your place doesn’t have much pantry space, invest in one of these types of cabinets. They don’t take up much wall space and can hold quite a bit. You just have to be sure not to over-load it.

As far as your bathroom/cleaning essentials, my recommendation is to figure out an organizational system that works best for you. Half the battle with these types of items is that we buy more than we need because we didn’t know we already had some at home! Also, we tend to have too many cleaners to begin with. Line them all up and see which ones you can do without.

Once you start organizing a bit more and maybe invest in a pantry cabinet you’ll have more space than you once thought to help you get a little stockpile going.

That’s great but how do you get the money, right? Next time you are shopping, take a look in your cart and you’ll probably have at least $5 in things you don’t need. A bag of chips, some cookies, a case of pop/soda you can cut back on, etc. Take the $5 that week and pick up some items that are on a great discount instead. If you do this every week throughout the course of a month, you’ll have at least $20 in items that you saved money on. It’s a start. It may take a few months but eventually making those little sacrifices will add up as your grocery/household bill won’t be as high as you’ll already have the items you need each week at home—and you got them on a hot deal! And when that happens, treat yourself to something you had to give up before!

One of the ways I save money is that I rarely buy meat at the grocery store. Instead, I invest my money locally with a farmer. I will usually buy 1/4 of a cow or 1/2 a hog in bulk or whatever we need at the time. I gave up little things like I mentioned above until I had enough money to invest in that first round of meat. And while I was doing that, I looked for meatless meal options to stretch my money farther. All of it is stored in a deep freezer that we asked for as a gift during the holidays one year. I didn’t look at it as a sacrifice at all once I started grillin’ up some of those delicious meats! :)

Building a stockpile takes time and patience but once you get it going at a steady pace you’ll truly see just how much money you can save and how much easier your weekly shopping trips will be. You’ll just need to buy the essentials and then use what’s left to pick up some stock-up price deals or save it away for that meat from a farmer.

RECAP
1) You truly do need to figure out the items you use the most and the highest priced ones so you can know which items you need to stockpile.

2) Take a good luck at the space in your house/apt and see if you are truly making the most of it. Do you see duplicates or unneeded boxes? Maybe just a little more organization?

3) Invest in a storage cabinet and/or deep freezer for extra room.

4) Give up “luxury” items each week so you can use the money to stockpile a few items.

5) If no items are on a good deal that week, put money aside to save up for buying meat in bulk or something else you truly need.

6) Remember: Creating a stockpile takes patience and time! You’ll figure out what works best for you over time.

How Does This Save Me Money?

1) Once you get a small stockpile going, you’ll gradually see your grocery/household bill declining as you are needing fewer items.

2) You will be making the most of your money as you’ll be buying those higher priced things at a much lower price.

3) Your grocery store trips will be quicker as you might just need a few items each week as you use the stockpile that you have on hand.

4) You’ll be wasting less money as you get more organized and quit buying things you don’t need or already have.

I’m hoping that you will try this out if you aren’t already building a little stockpile. I really appreciated mine over the winter when the weather was bad and/or we were sick and I just made meals of what we had on hand. Since I didn’t spend much money those weeks, I just rolled it into the next week and started to replenish it again.

For those of you that are visual people, here are some pictures of my stockpile that I took last year:

stockpile-1
Picture of my laundry room where I store most of my items. You can see my laundry, cleaning and paper products on the upper shelf.

stockpile-2
Picture of my 2 storage cabinets and 2 spice racks. I also keep paper goods (plates, cups, bags) and cereal on top.

stockpile-3
Picture of my main cabinet. Mostly canned goods, broth, some pasta, tuna, etc. What you’ll notice is once you have meats and produce stocked up in your freezer, you need less boxed/processed items!

stockpile-4
Picture of my cabinet with condiments and baking goods. Snack items are kept in one cabinet in my kitchen. I try to keep a limit on those.

stockpile-5
Picture of my deep freezer where I store a majority of the meat I get from a local farmer. I also buy whole Organic chickens at Whole Foods when they have them on sale.

stockpile-6
Picture of my freezer above my fridge. As you can see, I’ve gotten rid of the annoying boxes and have everything organized such as vegetables, fruit, ice cream, freezer meals, etc. If I happen to buy a frozen pizza or something larger, it usually gets tossed into my deep freezer or stacked on top.

stockpile-7
Picture of my bathroom cabinet. I have things organized by category in bins. I sometimes will stack taller items, like shampoo, on the floor area in a bin. I can easily look inside my bathroom cabinet bins to see what I might be running low on.

Hope this gives you a better idea of what size of stockpile you may need. Stay tuned for more in this series this week!

Summer Jar of Memories

jar

Several weeks ago, Zulily had an Apothecary Jar on sale so I decided to pick it up. My plans for it? To fill it full of summer memories.

Last night was the first of what I hope to be many additions to it. We went on a Full Moon Walk (which was AMAZING by the way) and the kids found some pine cones as we were out walking. They couldn’t wait to come back and add them to the jar.

We’ll see what fun gets added next.

I just wanted to share the idea in case you wanted to start one of your own!

You might be able to find a jar at The Salvation Army Thrift Store or some other second-hand place for not a lot out of pocket. Some dollar stores sell them, as well.

Amazon has this Glass Cookie/Candy Jar that might work.

canary-jar

And Zulily still has a few of a different jar – you’ll need to search by “Canary Jar & Lid” to find it. It’s $15.99 but not too many are left.

20 Ways to Save More Money – #4: Create a Low Inventory List and Maintain It

20-ways-to-save-more-money

If you are just tuning in to the series this is what you’ve missed as far as tasks:

#1 – Create Short and Long Term Goals
#2 – Make a Budget
#3 – Make a List of Highest Priced and Most Used Items

So up to this point you have a path you want to be on. You’ve made a budget for helping guide you on that path and you are watching for deals/coupons on the most used and highest priced items that you use. What’s the next step?

As I mentioned in the last segment, one of things you want to try to avoid is having to pay full-price for any item that you buy. While you may be searching for the best prices on the items that you use the most you also need to know which items you are getting a very low inventory on. This will help you decide what you need to spend your money on that week should several deals pop-up that you often buy.

For example, let’s say that both shampoo and paper towels are on a hot deal this week but you only have enough money budgeted for one of them. You take a chance and pick up the paper towels only to realize you were down to the very last of your shampoo. But if you had a “Low Inventory List” you would have known that your better option was to buy the shampoo and wait for another deal on those paper towels.

How many times has the following scenario happened to you….you start to make dinner, proud that you actually planned something for the night, only to realize that you are out of one of the ingredients that you needed. Now you either have to try to whip up something else instead or call for pizza delivery or something. If you had kept a “Low Inventory List” you would have know that you didn’t have enough of that item for your recipe.

This may sound like a lot of work but once you get started and get into the habit of maintaining your list it’s actually quite easy. You don’t need to get all fancy making this or that–just keep it as simple as taping a sheet of blank paper to the inside of your pantry door, bathroom closet and one on the fridge. That should cover most of the items you use.

At the end of the week, take a minute to check your lists so you know what items you need to focus your money on that week.

Now when you start out, use this task as a great way to get yourself a bit more organized. Go through your pantry and pull out all the expired foods. When you are checking the dates, if there are some that expire in a month or two, put those in a separate pile. What you want to do is keep one area of your pantry as a “use first” section and put those items there. When you go to make your meal plan for the next week, try to incorporate those ingredients into your recipes. This will help you make sure those items don’t go to waste and maybe even help streamline your meal planning that week.

Once you are done organizing, take a look at what’s left….and what’s missing. Jot down all the items you need to buy ASAP and then the items that you can wait on until a good deal pops up.

Want to be super-efficient? Date the top of your low inventory list. When your list gets full of crossed-off items, put it in a folder. At the end of a 3 month period, check your lists. This is one more way to not only see what you are buying a lot of but also a better gauge of how often.

RECAP

1) Go through your pantry and pull out any expired foods. Don’t forget to check condiments/spices!

2) Take any items with an expiration date of 2 months or less and put them in a separate area of your pantry. Use those first!

3) Go through your bathroom closet/cabinet and pull out any expired products.

4) Tape a list to your pantry, bathroom closet and fridge.

5) Jot down any items that you see that are getting low on inventory.

6) At the end of each week, check your lists to see what items you need to find deals on.

At this point, don’t tackle your fridge. That’s coming up soon enough!

How Does This Save Me Money?

1) By keeping a list of items you are getting low on, you can make sure you look for a sale price for them so you spend less money.

2) You won’t fall trap to being unable to make a planned recipe due to a missing ingredient and having to order carryout.

3) You can better budget each week’s money as you’ll know what things you have to buy. Maybe you’ll spend less on groceries if you need more household products or vice versa.

I know that life gets super busy. But one by one we are going to tackle these things and get us all a little more organized so we can start making the most of the money we have. Remember, I’m doing these things right along with you!

Stay tuned for the next post in this series!