Saving money?

A few years ago, I started using coupons and following all of these blogs about how you can save so much money by using coupons.  I was able to get a lot of things for free or, at least, close to free.  But (and you knew there would be a “but”, didn’t you?) now I’m trying to clean out my kitchen, organize, simplify, and minimize.

I’ve slowly been cleaning out cabinets.  Going through my dishes hasn’t been all that difficult as I tend to do that every year.  Since I very rarely buy any new dishes (except  for travel mugs/glasses for work…that’s a whole different blog post), I’m finally at a place where I don’t have a lot to get rid of.

Now I’m tackling the pantry.  Since I haven’t been feeling well (gosh, for what?  Like the past three years?), I’m just doing a little bit each evening while doing the dishes.  I started on one shelf, took out boxes and cans, checking the expiration dates.  I’m ashamed to admit how many cans of veggies or soup I’ve tossed because they were well past the expiration date.  Anyhow, my method is to go through the items until I’ve found a minimum of five items to discard.  Some days that’s pretty quick work.

pantry...before

pantry…before

You know, I was so proud of myself for being able to save so much money when I was buying all of this stuff.  But, honestly, how much money did I really save when I’m now pitching probably half of what I bought?

I’ve learned a couple of lessons here.  One, don’t buy so much processed food.  Fresh is healthier and I tend to actually use it because I knowingly buy small quantities so it won’t go bad on me.  Two, I’m not really saving money if the things I buy end up in the trash.  Okay, make it three lessons.  One person doesn’t need a lot.  When you see all of those stockpiles people have created, it’s not meant for one person.

I’m going to continue cleaning out the pantry.  I don’t know exactly how long it’ll take to get it done, but I’ll eventually finish it.  I’ll do a post later about my pared down pantry (hmm…I’ll have to remember that for the title).

Do you buy more than you need and then toss a lot?  I know a lot of folks say they do that with fresh produce, is that where you have issues?  Or is it in other areas?

It’s a new year already?

New Years Eve 2011 London

New Years Eve 2011 London (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I guess it just kind of slipped my mind until I noticed all of the posts welcoming in the new year.  As you might be able to guess, I didn’t have any party plans last night.  Had to be at work at 5 am this morning (I’m not kidding.  When I saw my doctor yesterday, she was shocked that I had to work on New Year’s Day.  Like, lady, what planet do you live on?  I work in retail.  People love to shop when they don’t have to work.).  Anyhow, the whole being at work at 5 am kind of put the party plans on hold.  Oh, who am I kidding?  There were no party plans.  I’ve got an ear infection, bronchitis, and another darn upper respiratory infection going on.  I’m personally keeping CVS in business.  The good news is, I just might hit my deductible this year when I file for 2013!! So I never made plans to go out and do anything.  I was in bed by eight o’clock.  Woo hoo!!  I am some kind of party animal!

I didn’t bother with the whole resolution thing this year.  I do want to eat a healthier diet just because I think doing so will improve my health.  I’m more than a little tired of  being sick all of the time.  And I did buy myself a Tai Chi DVD for Christmas.  I had done a tiny bit of tai chi a few years ago and think it might help with my RA and OA…if nothing else, it’ll keep me moving a bit and that won’t be a bad thing.

I’m taking part in a decluttering challenge, so I’m obviously looking to live in a cleaner, more organized home.  I think living with clutter is an indication that something in your life isn’t going the way you want it to.  Perhaps my internal challenge will be to try to determine what that is and then take steps to correct it.  Ah yes, I can be introspective at times.  Unfortunately I’ve spent most of my life avoiding introspection because it’s easier to keep doing what I’ve been doing than it is to make real changes.  Is 2014 the year I make those changes?  I’m thinking it will be.

How about you?  Resolutions?  Goals?  Plans?  Share with us.  We all want to know what you’ve got planned for the upcoming year.

Decluttering challenge, day 1

Okay, those of you who have been with me a while know that, while I’m not a pack-rat or hoarder, I do have a tendency to allow clutter to accumulate.  Why do I do that?  I mean, I could use the I’m tired when I get home from work excuse.  Or the I’ve been sick off and on for over a year now excuse.  Or the I live every day in pain excuse.  And those are all somewhat valid excuses.  But the thing is, I know I feel better about myself when my house is clean and uncluttered.

I’ve spent the past year questioning myself before I make a purchase.  Do I really need this?  Will I really use it?  Or will it end up collecting dust in a few weeks until I either donate it or sell it?  Asking myself these questions before I buy something has really helped curb my impulse purchases…well, except at Christmas and where Clara is concerned.  I did buy more than I needed to (or should have) at Christmas and I do still tend to buy little things (and some not so little things) that I think Clara might like.  I’m going to get that under control with my no-spend January (but that’s for another post).

Right now, for the month of January, I’m going to focus on eliminating clutter in my house.  The challenge is to get rid of one item on January 1.  Then, on the 2nd, get rid of two more items.  Three items on the 3rd, and so on through the 31st.  I haven’t done the math and I’m too lazy to stop and do it right now (why duplicate work that I’m sure someone else has already done???), but that would be a serious amount of clutter gone from my home in one month’s time.

I think the first week will be fairly easy, but along about week three, I’m thinking things might get a little more intense.  Not that I won’t be able to find things to get rid of.  Oh no, just that actually going through the process of packing 14 items up, taking them out to the car, and getting rid of them (just putting them in the car doesn’t count…have to actually hand them over…throw them out, give them away, sell them, whatever I choose to do with them has to be done each day) will likely become time-consuming and labor intensive as 14 turns into 15 into 16 and so on.

Knowing myself well enough to know I might just give up on the whole thing after a couple of weeks, I decided I needed a little accountability to keep me on the straight and narrow.  So, yep, you guessed it…you lucky folks will get to read daily updates and see daily pictures.  I know, I know…you all need to calm down now…it’ll be very exciting for all of you.  You’ll get a peek into my “why in the world did I ever save that?” stash.  And hey, if you see something you want, let me know quickly.  This is one of those you snooze, you lose deals.  Don’t act fast enough and it’ll be too late.

So, without further ado, day 1…

magazines for Greg

magazines for Greg

Yes, there are two magazines, but they’re both family magazines (free subscriptions that I somehow get…can’t even remember how, you know, since I don’t have kids and the cats don’t really like to do a lot of kid crafting…but I do get some ideas about stuff to do with Clara.), so I’m counting this as one item.  Time to pass them on.  So Greg, if you’re reading this, these will be waiting for you at work when you get there later today.  Enjoy.

Since I already had these set aside for Greg, this wasn’t a huge challenge for me.  Ooh…but what will tomorrow bring as I search for two things to release from my home (no, it won’t be the cats…how dare you even suggest that?).  Check in tomorrow as Patti’s decluttering saga continues…

Decluttering your inbox

screenshot of an email inbox filled with spam

screenshot of an email inbox filled with spam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh my gosh, I think I’m probably the world’s worst at unsubscribing to email newsletters that I’m no longer interested in.  I just do mass deletions and go on.  But I was reading an article (somewhere?  All You, maybe?) today about decluttering and they mentioned cleaning out your inbox so you don’t have to deal with deleting all of those emails every day.  Head slap!!  Why haven’t I done this before?  Why do I think people will be insulted if I unsubscribe to their emails?  Seriously, will most people or businesses even realize it?  And why should I care?  And really, if I unsubscribe, how will I even know that it bothered them?

So I’m going to start doing this.  I know it takes a few minutes, but eventually I’ll get rid of all that clutter in my inbox and have one less stress in my life.  What about you?  Are you quick to unsubscribe or do you just let it slide?

Vacation, writing, chores

pinterest nwf

pinterest nwf (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)

I’m on a little bitty vacation right now.  I go back to work on Friday (weird, I know, but with the work schedule I keep, that’s the best way to do it), so I’ve got a few days to get a bit done, caught up on, started…

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve allowed myself to become quite the slacker with my writing…I think I can use this week to redevelop the daily writing habit.  I have to, it’s one of the things in my life that keeps me sane (or at least what passes for sane in my crazy life).

I’ve also been going through a lot of my “stuff”…funny, I’m pretty careful with what I buy any more, but still end up with several boxes/bags of items to pitch or donate.  How in the world does that happen?  Seriously, I go through things at least twice a year.  You wouldn’t think I would have much to get rid of after several years of doing this, would you?  But you’d be wrong with that assumption.  Right now, I have a bag of magazines  to donate (bingo ladies in my complex?), a couple of bags of books to take to the Friends of the Library tomorrow, and some clothes to take to Goodwill.  At least I’m pretty much past the stage of having knick knacks to get rid of.

Today’s focus is going to be the kitchen.  I did clean the oven yesterday.  It really didn’t need a lot of cleaning, just wiping out, so that was fairly easy.  But I want to pull everything out of the fridge and freezer, clean it completely, then reorganize it when I put it back…and I may just have to make up a big pot of veggie soup using frozen leftovers just to get rid of some of the little containers filling my freezer.  Then I want to pull all of the furniture out and do a good mopping.  I admit, I’m not the world’s best at that, only do a complete job of it a few times a year.  Usually leave the plant stands in front of the window and just reach under them.  But not today.  Today I’ll move everything and use the little steam cleaner and get it done right!

I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel so much better when my house is totally clean and organized.  Oh, I did clean off my desk yesterday…found $3 in expired ECBs from CVS.  Don’t think that didn’t make me mad!  Note to self, that’s why you immediately cut them from the receipt and put them in wallet in purse.  {Head slap}

So, I can’t promise I won’t spend any time at all on Pinterest (or Facebook) today, but I can promise that it won’t be the entire day!  What about you?   Got any plans for your Monday?

spring comes early this year

And what kind of crazy winter has this been?  Daffodils trying to bloom in early February?

Taxes (and thankfully, no death today)

Logo of Internal Revenue Service, USA

Image via Wikipedia

While waiting around for the flooring guy to show up today, I decided to tackle my taxes.  I have a bad habit of putting it off until the absolute last-minute.  No real reason for me to do that either…I do usually manage to get a bit of a refund (and yes, all my CPA buddies, I know that’s not ideal…giving the government my money interest free is kind of silly…but those old habits die hard).   I suppose it’s just the fear of doing something wrong…you know, the dreaded IRS audit…hopefully that won’t happen (please keep your fingers crossed for me…I think everything was done correctly…used tax software this year).  Of course, general procrastination is also a factor.

So, the deal was the floor guy was going to come in and put new tile in the upstairs bathroom and the kitchen…coming around 10 am…well…that deal was a dud!  He showed up after 3 pm and his work order showed that he was replacing the flooring in both bathrooms!  Now, there’s nothing wrong with the downstairs bathroom…it was completely renovated just about a year ago.  I called the maintenance guy back (oh, probably for the fifth time today) and he came back by.  Said the deal was both bathrooms today, the kitchen in a couple of months, which is really interesting since he told  me earlier today that the guy would move the fridge, stove, washer and dryer outside onto my patio…hmm…But the guy only has enough flooring with him to do the bathrooms today, so what can I do about that?  So, at some point in time, I have to move the furniture back into the kitchen…but decided to blog before tackling that totally unnecessary project.

(old flooring in upstairs bathroom)

(new flooring in upstairs bathroom…hmm…is this worth all the trouble?)

I guess, on the bright side (yes, there is a bright side), I did clean the walls in the kitchen since I had everything out of there anyhow.  I mopped behind the washer and dryer (I’m so bad about not doing that very often) and cleaned the dryer vent and hose (just did that a couple of months ago, but figured I might as well do it again since everything was disconnected).  And now I’m thinking about not  putting everything back into the kitchen..I didn’t realize how much stuff was in the kitchen until I started pulling it all out…so this is the perfect time to do a little decluttering.  I always feel so much calmer when my living space is uncluttered and clean.

I had a lot of little things on the fridge door held on with magnets…but now I”m thinking about going with the clean look and not putting anything back on it.  I also had several candles sitting on the stove along with a spoon rest and a tea kettle…how about just one candle, the spoon rest and the tea kettle?  Those are things I use every day and I really don’t have a lot of storage space to put things away.  And now I’m thinking about going with a fairly cleaned off counter top too…I think we often don’t see how our houses really look, maybe because we see them every day.  It’s always surprising to me to see pictures I’ve taken of something in my house…that’s when I notice how things really look…isn’t that odd?  Why should what’s in a picture be more real than what we actually see every day?

Well…things are changing while I’m blogging…he’s not going to be able to finish everything today after all.  My boss is going to love this.  I had today off, but am supposed to work tomorrow.  However, I just don’t like to leave these guys in my house when I’m not here…yes, they’re bonded and all that…but why put temptation in front of them when I can simply be here to make sure everything goes well?  Plus, I have my cats to think about…both are inside only cats…one of them is such a little scaredy cat, that I’m always afraid she’ll run out the door if a stranger is here and leaves the door open (and I’ve seen them do that at other places)  But I’ll have to talk to my boss and see what he thinks of my reasoning…I have plenty of vacation and personal time left so that’s not an issue…it’s just that tomorrow will be a busy day (but at least no corporate visitors or auditors…all on vacation).  I always feel guilty when I take an unplanned day off.  I don’t know why.   I don’t think most people feel that way, but I always hate for people to have to do extra work because I’m not there ( I also hate coming in to a pile of work that no one had time to finish…I think I may hate that more…).

Alright, another update…we’ve got a truck coming in at 5 am tomorrow, so I’m going to go in and work until 8 to help with the truck.  I’ll still be able to make it back home before he gets here…shoot, if today is any indication, I could probably work the entire day and still beat him back here.  Not going to risk it though.

Happy St Patrick’s Day from Spooky…oh, and from me too!

I’m a winner!

Federal Experss long-distance ground delivery ...

Image via Wikipedia

I sure do love giveaways, especially when I win something!  I’d almost forgotten about winning a case of Better Oats oatmeal until I opened the door to the FedEx guy yesterday.  When I opened the box, I was so pleased to see the assortment of flavors…I mean really, dark chocolate with a name like Lavish?  How could it not be good?!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the blogger who hosted the giveaway…Laura Williams at http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com/  I now follow her blog and enjoy reading her posts at We Use Coupons as well…thanks so much for the chance to win this fantastic giveaway, Laura!

And I even look forward to getting my mail every day now…felt like I won the lottery yesterday with the haul I took in…

Got the P & G coupon booklet, the Organize Your Life coupon booklet, an envelope full of coupons from a coupon train on We Use Coupons, a free sample of Vaseline Intensive Care lotion, a free sample of Maggi soup starter and the Remedy magazine.  I haven’t actually had the time to go through any of this yet, but I’m thinking that might be a pleasant interlude this afternoon with a cup of hot tea and some music.

I’m on vacation this week (yea, me!!).  I spent all day yesterday cleaning house…something I’ve neglected terribly lately.  But now it looks all fresh and clean.  Have you ever noticed that you just feel so much better when you walk through your front door and the house is clean and organized?  Now to tackle my spare bedroom…unfortunately not so clean and organized…yet!!  But I’m going to do a little each day…will probably have lots of goodies to give the bingo ladies for their prizes…something they really appreciate.  And I certainly appreciate the more organized nature of my spare room…thinking about turning it into a home gym, just not sure how I’d manage to get the treadmill up the stairs…oh well, that’s a problem for another day.