How to buy less stuff and save more money

save more money

As I have been going into town a lot recently to have acupuncture, I have had more of an opportunity to browse the shops. I have been impressed with myself at how little I have been tempted by all of the colourful, shiny goods in the windows. Time was I would go ‘window shopping’ with my friends after pay day and end up spending a large chunk of my salary. It felt good at the time, but not so great a couple of weeks later, when I realised I had too much month left for my remaining cash. These days I want to save more money and buy a lot less stuff.

Too much stuff

These days I feel that stuff – the books, DVDs, clothes, gadgets and general paraphernalia that clutter up our homes and lives – rarely brings much lasting satisfaction.  I am not talking about all purchases. For example, have used my classic Kenwood KM330 Stand Mixer, 4.6 L, 800 W – White for around 30 years. As I purchased it second hand in the first place I consider this a very good investment purchase!  However, my fruit and vegetable juicer is gathering dust in a cupboard and needs to be cleaned up and sold. What a waste of money.

Another investment purchase was the  Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas and I can see us using this until it stops working. It is brilliant! I am listening to the Prime most popular playlist that Alexa very kindly put on for me as I type this. Now we have this, I can’t see us needing to buy any more charity shop CDs, another temptation for both of us.

I am not saying don’t buy anything. Just consider whether you really want it, will use it or can afford it before you fork out your hard earned cash. Remember, that stuff equals money. Also, if you are bothered by clutter, think about where you will put it!

But how can you learn to stop impulse buying endless stuff? Here are some tips to help you break the spending habit, avoid clutter and save money in the process.

How to buy less stuff and save more money

Unsubscribe from mailing lists

I try really hard not to sign up for marketing offers and mailing lists when I make online purchases. Nevertheless, the odd one gets through. Make the time to unsubscribe so that you don’t get temptation through your inbox every day.

Think how many hours you need to work to buy stuff

This one works wonders for me. Know your hourly wage after tax.When you are tempted to buy something, consider how many hours you would need to work to pay for it. In the excellent book Your Money or Your Life, the authors Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez recommend looking at your purchases in terms of how much life energy (ie the time spent at work) you are trading to pay for your lifestyle. As many of us live for the weekends, this is a great tip!

save more moneyReward yourself differently

We all have those ‘I have been working hard, I deserve to treat myself’ moments.  But if you want to save more money, how about rewarding yourself in a different way? Rather than buying a new skirt or top, put some money aside in your holiday fund maybe, invite a friend round for coffee and a chat, allow yourself time to sit and read a book or run yourself the deepest bubble bath and light a candle.

Don’t go shopping for fun

There are so many free or cheap things you can do for fun. Going shopping in the mall is not one of them if you want to save more money, especially if you are prone to give into temptation.  Shop from your wardrobe instead and remember what you already have. Visit your local library or free museum. Take a walk around your neighbourhood – be a tourist in your own town!

Don’t browse websites or catalogues out of boredom

As above. There are many things you can do if you are bored. Read some of the books you impulse purchased but never got round to (my vice).  Take up a cheap hobby if you are prone to boredom – rambling, knitting, cooking, gardening, painting, wildlife spotting…use your imagination. Personally, I never pick up or order catalogues now, not even the seed catalogues I used to get.

Consider the waste from every purchase

If you are concerned about packaging and its negative effects on the environment, as I am, expand your thinking to include the waste and energy used by the items you impulse purchase. If you stop and consider the manufacture, transport, packaging and pollution that might arise from each item you buy, you might think that you don’t just want to save more money; you also would like to minimise the impact of your lifestyle on the planet.

Have goals

Many of us have vague goals about what we want to achieve in our lives. Maybe we have dreams to travel, buy a house, save for our children’s university costs, get a better car or whatever. If your dreams seem distant and impossible, starting a savings fund towards them and considering your purchases in terms of how much you won’t be able to put in your savings because of the money you spend, your perspective is likely to change.

Once you begin to develop new thinking patterns about your spending habits, it becomes easier to resist the urges to the point where you barely have those urges. You can save more money and live the life you really want.

 

Simplify your life with a good declutter

Pre-Christmas is the perfect time to get rid of lots of accumulated stuff. I find decluttering very cathartic – there is nothing like a good declutter to feel like you are back in control. How good it feels to simplify your life. Less stuff means fewer bits to clean for a start!

You too can simplify your life with a good declutter.

How many books can one person read?

good declutter

Books! In the past we had so many. Even though I seem to be constantly getting rid of books, they soon find their way back onto the shelves. I was really brutal last time I decluttered. We had so many gardening books that neither of us ever read. I cleared almost all of them.  I got rid of around half of the paperbacks as well. Some I sold and some I just gave away. You can sell books through Music Magpie or Ziffit (if you use my referral code – I0LMLPHCY – you can earn an extra £5).

I kept all of the girls’ Harry Potter books. They are too much a part of their childhood to give away. They still read them now when they come home. I also kept all of my yoga books. I am not teaching currently, but I hope to in the future. I need them for inspiration when I am planning lessons.

I also kept some classic novels and other books I am likely to come back to. If I am honest, though, I could do without any of them; I just like having a shelf full of books in the house somewhere! I am a part time minimalist…

I read more books on Kindle these days but I still like an actual paper book. I can’t see this ever changing but I think you can simplify your life with fewer books and a good declutter.

DVDs: a thing of the past?

good declutter

Earlier in the year, one of my daughters pointed out that we had a shelf crammed with DVDs but no working DVD player. What madness! They have all been donated to the charity shop or sold now. We watch the TV or Netflix instead.

I have kept a lot of the CDs but still donated about 50% to the charity shop. We both listen to CDs in the car and still haven’t got into downloading music to our smart phones.

Again, you can sell your old CDs and DVDs through Music Magpie or Ziffit (with my refer a friend code for £5 extra cash – I0LMLPHCY).

Ornaments – who needs them?

I never thought I would be the kind of person who liked ornaments – how trashy! Then I developed an obsession with chickens and, before I knew where I was, I had shelves full of little china chooks. Every Christmas and birthday everyone bought me more. They had to go! I have been slimming them down for some time.

I have also found myself drawn in middle age to a shabby chic look. I am turning into a stereotype… Pretty floral plates vie with teapots, cups and jugs on the shelves of our two dressers. I have also developed a taste for bunting.

In the sitting room, this has all been removed. I will keep the dresser in the kitchen but one is enough. As I clean the house each week I find myself examining the remaining ornaments and sometimes saying goodbye to them as I go along.

Have a good declutter and find some empty shelf space

Also removed from the sitting room – a Wii that hadn’t been used for at least two years, a vintage sewing machine that I plan to sell, an old shredder gathering dust and a big pile of magazines.

My plan is to use my week off at Christmas to sort through some of the drawers and cupboards downstairs. I do this fairly often but it’s amazing how ‘stuff’ constantly finds its way back into them.  What is the point of keeping lots of things that are never used? We may as well sell or donate them, then at least somebody else might appreciate them. I am keeping a binbag in the hall to collect all of the items I get rid of.

Anyone else finishing 2018 with a good declutter? See my guide to selling on eBay if you need to get rid of some of it.

This post contains affiliate links.

Time for a spring clean? Cashing in your clutter

This is a collaborative post.

Time for a spring cleanThe days are getting longer. We have had a couple of chilly but bright and sunny days. I think the season is finally changing and it makes me feel like having a spring clean.

We have a head start on the weather; regular readers will be aware that we have been decluttering! As we were renovating the lounge, it was essential. We have cleared bags and bags of books, CDs, DVDs and general clutter. Some has gone off to the charity shop and other items have been listed on eBay and Ziffit.

Decluttering goals

One of my goals for 2018 is a bigger decluttering/spring clean project – the attic! It is chock full of ‘stuff’. This is why I keep putting it off. I intend to make a bit of money selling some of the items up there. I know there are some interesting bits and pieces. We don’t use them, so somebody else might as well.

I need to break it up a bit and clear a small section at a time, to motivate me to get going on my spring clean.

The sheds are another potential decluttering project. We have loads of bikes and bits of pieces of furniture that could be sold to add to our emergency fund. I can’t actually remember what is at the back as these items are buried. I hope there aren’t too many huge spiders!

Turn your spring clean into money

I might consider selling larger items with an auction house such as BPI Auctions. They deal with private individuals as well as company auctions. If I was in the market for a new kitchen I would definitely be looking on there. They have some amazing looking ex-display kitchens. But I am not buying, I am selling!

I am also considering a boot sale. If you are decluttering, the Easter weekend is a good time to sell. I need to see if we will have enough items to make a boot sale worthwhile then. If not, it can wait until the summer.

Save yourself a trip to the tip

I use Freecycle and Facebook Marketplace when I want to give large items away. We had a rusty and very heavy old cross trainer that would have been a pain to get down the tip. It wouldn’t even have fitted in the car. A very nice gent was extremely happy to come and take it off my hands when I put it on Facebook. It was a win-win!

Facebook Marketplace is also a good place to advertise items you want to sell. The advantage of this over eBay is that there are no fees. I discussed the eBay versus Facebook for selling here.

Anybody else up for a spring clean and declutter? You can read about my decluttering story here.

This post contains affiliate links.

Simplify your life with a good declutter

simplify your lifeI have been doing a mega declutter of the sitting room over the weekend. We have just started a bit of DIY, so it seemed to be the perfect time to get rid of lots of accumulated stuff. It was very cathartic – I love a good declutter!! It made me think how good it is to simplify your life.

How many books can one person read?

Books – we have so many!! Even though I seem to be constantly getting rid of books, they soon find their way back onto the shelves. I have been really brutal this time. We have so many gardening books that neither of us ever read. I have cleared almost all of them.  I got rid of around half of the paperbacks as well.

I kept all of the girls’ Harry Potter books. They are too much a part of their childhood to give away. They still read them now when they come home. I also kept all of my yoga books. I am not teaching currently, but I hope to in the future. I need them for inspiration when I am planning lessons.

I have also kept some classic novels and other books I am likely to come back to. If I am honest, though, I could do without any of them; I just like having a shelf full of books in the house somewhere! I am a part time minimalist…

I read more books on Kindle these days but I still like an actual paper book. I can’t see this every changing but I think you can simplify your life with !

DVDs: a thing of the past?

One of my daughters pointed out that we had a shelf crammed with DVDs but no working DVD player. What madness! They are all in a bag for the charity shop. We watch the TV or Netflix now.

I have kept all of the CDs. We both listen to them in the car and still haven’t got into downloading music to our smart phones. That might be the next task.

Ornaments – who needs them?

I never thought I would be the kind of person who liked ornaments – how trashy! Then I developed an obsession with chickens and, before I knew where I was, I had shelves full of little china chooks. Every Christmas and birthday everyone bought me more. They had to go! I have been slimming them down for some time.

I have also found myself drawn in middle age to a shabby chic look. I am turning into a stereotype… Pretty floral plates vie with teapots, cups and jugs on the shelves of our two dressers. I have also developed a taste for bunting! In the sitting room, these have all been removed. I will keep the dresser in the kitchen but one is enough.

Instead, Mr S is going to put up a couple more shelves and make a cupboard where the dresser was. I have slimmed down the contents by half and will try very hard not to cram the new cupboard with clutter once it is built.

Simplify your life and find some empty shelf space

Also removed from the sitting room – a Wii that hasn’t been used for at least two years, a vintage sewing machine that I plan to sell, an old shredder gathering dust and a big pile of magazines.

The shelves look so empty! I still need to untangle the old DVD player and take that to the tip but other than that I think my decluttering task is complete.

Now the really hard work will start – peeling off the old paper and sanding down the woodwork. Because I am doing a no spend January we are using up the DIY supplies in the shed and won’t be buying any more until next month. This is fine by me. I am not a fan of DIY so happy to take it slowly.

Can you believe it? I have a car full of clutter which I attempted to take to the charity shop after work. They didn’t want it! They said they had too many donations at the moment. I will try somewhere else tomorrow.

It seems we all have too much stuff that we are trying to declutter. What do you do to simplify your life? Are you having a new year declutter?

 

New order: the great wardrobe declutter

Considering I don’t buy many clothes at all, I shouldn’t need an annual wardrobe declutter. However, I most certainly do!

Don’t you just hate it when you are getting dressed in a hurry and you can’t find the top you need to go with the skirt you are wearing? Or the jumper in the right colour can’t be located anywhere? A wardrobe declutter gives you the opportunity to sort your clothes out and remember what you actually own. I usually rediscover items I had got out of the habit of wearing, so a good declutter makes me feel I have more clothes in an odd sort of way.

Declutter rather than redecorate

One of my goals for November is to sort out and declutter my bedroom. We don’t have the time or money to redecorate but  would like to freshen it up and maybe move the furniture around. It is not a large bedroom – it is the middle of three. We chose it because it has a view over the back garden, which we love.

The wardrobe is really just a  hole in the wall with a curtain across it.  I have had many of my clothes for years – I try to look after them. Many were purchased second-hand in charity shops, eBay and boot sales. Some were bought in the sales. If they were new and full price they are usually from Primark or everything5pound.com! Because it isn’t a huge space it does tend to get a bit crammed. At the moment there is so much in there everything is getting creased. A wardrobe declutter is essential!

I also intend to go through all the drawers in my dressing table, the bedside tables, the linen cupboard, the boxes under the bed and our large chest of drawers (for a small room, we have a LOT of stuff in there). However, today I started with the wardrobe.

I have started pulling everything out so that I can decide what to keep, what to sell and what to give to charity. It will be put back in item type: dresses, skirts, tops, trousers, cardigans, coats, etc. I am not a fan of colour coding and, since I wear a lot of  black and grey, it would be pretty pointless anyway!

Decluttering saves you money

There are so many money-saving advantages to having a good old wardrobe declutter.

Firstly, you find clothes you had forgotten you owned, as I mentioned already.

Secondly, you can sell your unwanted items, maybe on eBay (my guide is here), Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or Depop.

Thirdly, your bedroom will look clean and tidy and is almost as good as repainting!

Finally, you can donate what you want to charity. In my case, we are having a clothes sale as part of our Children in Need fundraising, so anything I don’t want will be sold to raise money for this great cause.

I am half way through my wardrobe declutter. How about joining me? It is cheap therapy and good for the soul :).

 

Too much stuff? Liberate it (and yourself)

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful – William Morris

I can in no way be described as a minimalist. Nobody with bunting hanging in the kitchen can claim this! However, I hate clutter and I’m not a fan of holding onto too much stuff or buying new things just for the sake of it. This brings me into conflict with Mr S sometimes who is a bit of a hoarder (he actually found some of his own stuff in the charity shop one day – I was not popular!).

A regular declutter is therapeutic

I am a regular declutterer. I don’t like spaces full of too much stuff so that I don’t know what I own. What’s the point of having things if they aren’t used? I would rather give them away.

So the drawers and cupboards I go to regularly are pretty ordered. However, the spaces that are out of the way are full of junk! We have three sheds in the garden that desperately need sorting out. There are items of furniture stored out there that we are unlikely to use so they need to go to the charity shop or on eBay. The DIY stuff is all over the place and needs organising.

The more things you own, the more they own you – unknown

A dark, disordered place

Another dark, disordered place is the attic. I think most of the things up there we need to keep but it could still do with a bit of rationalisation I am sure. There is far too much stuff up there.

Then there is the hall cupboard, full of tools, cleaning stuff, hoovers and sleeping bags. Every now and again the weight of the stuff inside pushes the door open!

So, there is work to be done and I intend to tackle the lot in the next few months.

A good clear out is really therapeutic I find so I am actually looking forward to it (but not the spiders…).

How about you? Are you a hoarder or a declutterer? Do you have cupboards full of unidentified stuff?

More decluttering

I love a bit of decluttering

decluttering

These were spilling over!

I cleared out yet more bags of stuff on Sunday, another five, so a great bit of decluttering. The charity shop loves me!

I don’t know where all this stuff comes from! I never seem to buy much. I do sometimes keep things ‘ just in case’ but there has to be a limit. I cleared the three baskets above the linen cupboard in my bedroom and found about 20 toiletry and makeup bags. Some of them I don’t recall ever seeing. This is what happens when you have three daughters but two of them no longer live here. We don’t need 20!

I also found various ancient hairdryers and hair curlers and some presents that I had bought for the emergency gift box and forgotten were there. I will use some of these at Christmas.

I also cleared out a huge box of scarves, hats and gloves. We can only wear one lot at a time and I figure if I haven’t worn something for a couple of years I never will.

A bit of a hoarder

Mr S does not like the decluttering process as he is a bit of a hoarder. He is sure I will throw things away that will come in handy down the line. I am careful not to do that. He is great at remembering what he has and will have just the right piece of wood/ screw/ object for the job. So I won’t be touching the sheds unless he is there in case I get rid of ‘treasure’.

I find it quite cathartic to declutter, but it does mean I have been neglecting the garden. As I work full time my weekends get pretty packed but I am determined to spend a day out there this weekend. As ever, too much to do and too little time to do it!

Time to declutter!

declutter

Some of the bags off to the charity shop

We have always had a lot of books in the house – the shelves in the sitting room particularly were crammed. I had to clear the books from what will be the lodger’s room yesterday and move them downstairs so I had to get rid of a few to make space for them. ‘A few’ turned into 13 bags!

declutter

After decluttering, I should have taken one before!

You would think that the shelves would now be looking empty but that’s not the case. We still have a lot of books, DVDs and CDs. I kept the classics and  all my yoga books. Most of those I threw out were teen books and chick lit from my daughters. As only one of them now lives here and she had read them all it was high time for a purge. Luckily there is a large out of town hospice shop near me so I took them straight round.

declutter

Still plenty of CDs to sort out!

I need to do the CDs and DVDs next. There are plenty that no one ever listens to or watches so they can go, but we may have to do it as a committee!

I still have lots of things in the cupboard in the lodger’s room that I need to move so that will involve getting rid of some more stuff. I find it therapeutic actually – the biggest challenge is finding the time!

I only have one day for sorting this weekend as I am off to Ipswich for a yoga workshop today. It should be interesting. Hopefully I shall return calm and serene and ready for another crazy week!

Bargains galore and more serious decluttering at Shoestring Cottage

Finally flopped after a busy day and found time to blog!

Mess!!

Mess!!

The decluttering continues. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to clear out one cupboard every week. This feels so much less intimidating than setting myself a targeting of doing them all in one go. I think I will get around to it at some point but there is never enough time, whereas clearing just one can be done as part of my weekly cleaning routine.

imageToday I did some decluttering of the filing cabinet in my bedroom. I have 3 large boxes of files under my bed containing everything from bank statements to school reports. I don’t really need another separate filing cabinet, so I have removed it and replaced it with a solid bedside drawer unit that was spare for Mr S’s clothes. Much better!

Better

Better

I also gave the tiles in the bathroom a good scrub with bleach as they were looking pretty grubby.

We found time to visit my favourite charity shop too. The fact that it is open on a Sunday, is out of town and then sells all clothes at 99p makes it irresistible! Today I found two tops and two good work skirts: the labels say Gap, Per Una and Next. How could I not be happy with this? I donated some things too, still in the spirit of decluttering!

How about you? Anybody found any great bargains this weekend?

Getting organised and decluttering

The key to a lot of people living in a small house is organisation. I have to stand a bit of mess as I live with a very untidy family, and I don’t want to get all anal about it. I have been to friends’ houses where I was terrified about leaving a cushion out of place or creasing a hand towel. I want everybody to be relaxed but at the same time I don’t want to be falling over unnecessary mess and clutter. Regular decluttering helps.

imageUsing baskets

Over the years I have found that baskets on shelves are a good cost effective means of containing and hiding any clutter. I am brutal about getting rid of things I no longer use and know I am unlikely to find a need for in the future. Mr Shoestring hates this as he is a bit of a hoarder. He gets nervous when I go into decluttering mode!

I have mentioned before that my second daughter is back for the summer after her first year at university and has arrived with lots of belongings from her digs. Those items she doesn’t need to access daily have been packed off to her dad’s as he has a spare room, but there are still a lot of things!

imageA bit of rationalisation

A crucial part of my plan to keep my finances on track is to have foreign students to stay. We have another one coming in two weeks and hopefully a long term one arriving in September. This means that sometimes darling daughters 2 and 3 have to share a bedroom! We need to get organised so that DD2 can slip seamlessly back and forth.

So I am badgering them both to rationalise their clothes and belongings with a good bit of  decluttering. We currently have about 8 binliners full of items we will sell at a boot sale later in the summer, but there will be more.

I spent yesterday evening sorting the room out and trying to use every available bit of space effectively, and it is coming together. We will get there!

Are you a hoarder or the house proud type? Or like me, somewhere in between?