Making do with what you already have is a time-honored way of frugality, and a great way to avoid having so much stuff you lose track of what you have.
There is nothing worse than thinking you’ve found a great deal on something you need, only to find out a few weeks later, you already had a perfectly good one at home. I’ve learned this the hard way many times. I can’t tell you how many times I had to smile sheepishly at my husband and admit that yes, I’d bought a duplicate, and no, we couldn’t return it because I didn’t discover it until too late.
That kind of waste is far too expensive to continue unchecked.
De-cluttering is not only a great way to keep your home nice and tidy but it allows you to take note of what you already own and make a list of what you truly need. You can also make some extra cash by selling things you no longer use or donating them and then taking a deduction from your taxes.
For example, my four youngest children are all boys so we have tons of clothes for them, much of it things waiting for somebody to grow into. My problem was I never knew what each child already had for the upcoming season and would go crazy at sales, only to find that the child in question already had 30 tops but not a single pair of nice pants.
Now, instead of shoving things in containers and tossing them into the attic every season, I sort by sizes and take notes on what I’ll want to look for at sales, thrift stores, yard sales and so on.
I’ve also discovered that by organizing my bookshelves, I find at least a half-dozen unread books every time. This makes it easy to place myself on restriction from buying anything more until I’ve read what I’ve got (this is a lot harder than it sounds).
My pantry is also a problem area, so every so often, I’ll go through and make a point to use up those cans and boxes lurking in the back before I go grocery shopping again.
Even the most frugal person has one or two purchase categories where they tend to accumulate more than they need, so it’s a good idea to periodically take the time to de-clutter and take an inventory.
While de-cluttering you’ll want to:
1. Decide what to do with duplicate items. Do you really need two or more of the same or remarkably similar item? You don’t necessarily have to get rid of the extras, but if you know you already have five black shirts, it helps you resist the temptation to buy a sixth, even at 75% off.
2. Weed out broken items. Is it practical to repair? If not, get rid of it. Odds are good you’ve been able to live without the item so think twice about replacing it.
3. You’ll also want to get rid of things you simply no longer use or want. It’s tempting to want to keep them around just in case, but if it’s been a year or longer since you’ve used it and it’s not an heirloom or fire extinguisher, go ahead and let it go. Unneeded possessions multiply the chaos in our lives.
4. Make a list of things that you’ll need and keep it in your wallet or purse. This will help you in two ways the next time you’re out shopping. You’ll have a list of things you need to buy and conversely, you’ll know you don’t need things not on the list. I’ve also found that knowing what my family needs makes it easy to answer when asked questions about what gifts to get the family.
5. Organize your things in a way to simplify finding what you need when you need it. It’s no good knowing you already have needle nose pliers or a polka dot bow tie if you can’t find them!
Being frugal means being smart with the resources you already have. By taking the time to sort and inventory what you own, you’ll be more capable of making purchasing decisions and making full use of what you have.