Living Frugal- Easier Than You May Think


It’s summertime and the living is easy.  And, er, frugal.  At least for some of my clients. It’s been a long, hot summer, and it’s been a long, anxious few years with the economy as it is now in our lives. So what does being frugal mean to my clients and I?

Being a professional organizer dovetails perfectly with being frugal. It blends with my philosophy of uncluttered homes and peaceful lives. When I go into a house I assess what is working and what is not. Then, one room at a time, we pull everything out that is not working, place ‘like’ items together, and discover that there are indeed four garlic presses or nine black sweaters. Then we eliminate what is not useful or enjoyable to my client. When you know exactly what you own and love, you are less likely to blindly shop.

This rule applies to every room from the kitchen to the master (the two biggest culprits) and from basement to attic.  First the kitchen. Plan meals based on what is closest to (but of course never past) the expiration date in the fridge, freezer and pantry.  It is much easier to come up with meals when necessity rules the day.

Place like items together in these three areas as well as in your kitchen cabinets.  So all pastas, rices and carbohydrate side dishes can go on one shelf, snack items and baking goods on another. In the fridge, keep all meats together, cheeses, condiments, fruits, etc, all together and in the same place every time you bring in new groceries. It is so much easier to reach quickly for the chicken broth when you know exactly where it is, (or where it is NOT in which case you put it on the grocery list!)

And yes, alphabetize those spices! No one needs to go buy another bottle of $12 cardamom because they could not find their other one.  And don’t get me started on Tupperware.  Pull them all out and put lids with bases to see what extras you have. Toss the extras, and as long as you are at it, recycle any that are bubbled, badly stained or melted.

As important as conserving your space is conserving your time. If you spend less time going BACK to the grocery store because you have plenty of extra staples in the basement from Costco, then by all means, shop at warehouse club chains for those items that are cheaper. Just know that not all items there are less expensive than the Walmart or King Soopers equivalent.   I took a very long receipt from Walmart that had many staple items on it to Costco to do a light cost comparison. I was pleasantly surprised to find that most items were cheaper at Costco, but I will continue to buy a few things at Walmart or King Soopers because they are actually cheaper at those stores.

Up to the master (and other) bedrooms now. Start with the biggest headache in the room.  Remember, this room should be a place of rest and renewal. I don’t even like a television in the bedroom, and certainly not clutter.  So remove those piles of papers, stacks of magazines, and piles of books to be read.  Make your bed, (don’t worry, I won’t ask you to do it daily.) But it DOES provide a fabulous work surface for your bedroom overhaul, doesn’t it?

Go through those papers, file those that cannot be recycled or shredded, and keep one or two books by your bedside table to read, and put the rest in the basement. You will get to them; have no fear.  Papers belong in a file cabinet, in an office, in another room. Let’s make the bedroom as focused on sleep as possible.

For clothes, sort them by season, then item.  For children’s clothes, it’s also important to sort by size, but we’re just dealing with your clothes right now. For your clothes, keep what you love, what is useful, and possibly what is traditional and will never go out of style; a staple that you couldn’t replace easily.  I tell my clients ‘If it is expensive, fits and has style, keep it.’ It is awful trying to find another pair of cream heels to go with that Easter suit because they weren’t exactly in style last year so you tossed yours.

Go through your entire closet like this; also drawers, under the bed tubs (which are wonderful) and anything hanging in the bathroom, (which really probably should not be.) If this whole idea makes you twitch and your palms clammy, fear not. You can do anything for an hour. Put on your favorite CD, turn it way up, get help if you need it, or do it alone if that’s better. Get a glass of wine and away you go! Being frugal can be very refreshing indeed.


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