Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rule #5 Be Careful When You Shop

One of the problems with being affluent, (and remember, according to the world's standards, as Americans we are ALL affluent) is

we have too much money to spend on non-essentials.

For those of you who don't know, 
the essentials in life are:



Not a lot actually. Now think back to the money you have spent in, let's say, the past 3 months. Think about the trips to the mall, Costco, Target, Kohl's, Walgreens, and Home Depot. Think about the orders placed on Amazon, Zulily, or  Think about the quick stops at a thrift store or yard sale or the "run" into the dollar store. There are so many places to spend our money that the list could just keep going, right? And just how many of those purchases were for things that were "needs?" 

It's time we be a little more careful when we shop.

If you really want to be blown away by how much Americans spend in a day, click on this link here  and watch the numbers! It's fascinating...and a little scary actually. Try it. Really!

The bottom line is we spend A LOT....and usually without even thinking about it.

The "spending too much money" part of this problem is one aspect but we will leave money talk for another day.

On this blog we talk about having, dealing with, storing, juggling, being grumpy about and apologizing over TOO MUCH STUFF. 

And when you bring stuff IN.


Here are some questions to ask yourself when you shop:

1.  WHERE am I going to put this? 

This question helps me a lot, especially when I am tempted to buy new frames, pictures, pillows or other decor for my home. It also helps when I want to buy books or clothes or when my husband wants to buy a new tool. When it feels like your spaces are already completely FULL, (the closet seems too full, the bookshelf seems to be overflowing, the work bench is covered in tools, etc etc.) figuring out where you are going to put it before you buy it and bring it home is really smart. 

For example, if you are buying a new kitchen appliance ....
you just have to have that Wok

 (you know... to go with your run ;)

picture in your mind coming home from the store and opening the box, and then putting the wok away. Is it going to fit? Can you picture it sliding right into a spot on the shelf? Is there really a place for it? If not....if it is going to be a struggle to figure out a home for it and have a place for it to go permanently don't buy it!

2.  Do I already have something really similar to this that I could use instead?

I wrote about this question in a previous blog post about dejunking (you can find it here) but I think it's important to go into when discussing bringing stuff into the house or your life too. When speaking about shopping, it shouldn't come as any kind of surprise, but it is pretty common in our shopping excursions to be drawn to things that are the same types of things or the same style. Or, in other words, when you are out shopping you are going to be steered toward the types of things you have at home. It is imperative, in the battle to have LESS stuff, that we realize it and think about it when we shop. Before we put something in the cart or go up to pay, we should always ask ourselves "Do I already have something similar to this at home?" and/or "Do I have something I can use or wear instead of buying this?" Chances are the answer will be "yes." And then it's time to say "no" to the purchase.

3. Am I buying something today for the wrong reason?

Have you ever thought that you might be shopping for all sorts of reasons other than that you need a particular item? 

What are some of the reasons you might buy?

How about these?

* I'm bored and have extra money this month so I might as well.

* I feel bad that I haven't done much with my child lately so I'm sure buying him/her this item will make them feel better. (and me too :)

* I like the ones I have of these so much that one in another color or slightly different style would be great.

*  I haven't spent very much money on myself lately so I deserve it.

My point is NOT VERY OFTEN are we shopping and buying and bringing new things into our homes for the simple fact that they are NEEDED. In fact, most of the time there are other reasons we buy. And all I suggest is that we ask ourselves, before we fall for it


So, there you go....something to think about.
Ask yourself these questions and...

Remember Rule #5

Blog News:  Guess what I got for a Mother's Day gift? A blog makeover! So be watching in the next couple of weeks for a whole new LOOK here at! 

And thanks again for your support and encouragement.

Next Post:  Rule #6  Set Limits for Yourself and Others

Friday, May 20, 2016

Rule #4 Learn to BORROW instead of OWN

In my opinion, there are a lot of benefits to borrowing an item instead of running out and buying it.  Let me give you just 2....and I'll do it in the form of a story.  I call it:

The Tale of the George Foreman Grill

Once upon a time, a new amazing gadget was invented by the famous boxer, George Foreman. Everyone you met could not say enough about the amazing Goerge Foreman grill. It cooked your steak or chicken or salmon to perfection in just minutes. It was magical. It sounded too good to be true to me but after hearing from several people that it was the best thing since sliced bread, I really wanted to try it.  The problem was:
A. they were pretty expensive for just a "try"
B. They are big and bulky and would take up a lot of space in my kitchen--which is especially a problem if I didn't like it, right?

And then the brilliant thought came into my head...
"my friend and neighbor, Holly, who lives across the street had a George Foreman grill!" And Holly is gracious and lovely and unselfish and I knew she would let me "try it out" before I went and bought one.  And guess what? She did. (Thanks Holly!:)

And guess what else? 
I tried it and didn't really like it. I have a lot of kids and it couldn't cook everything I needed at the same time (and Holly had a BIG one).  And what it did cook wasn't moist and tender like I thought it would be. And my family felt like the food tasted bland and would rather have it barbecued outside or cooked in the oven with onions smothered on it.

SO, I washed it up and took it back to Holly, said "thank-you so much" and saved myself $50 and a whole lot of storage space.

And my love for borrowing things began.

Another time, my teenage daughter, Ashley, (who is tremendous in the kitchen by the way) wanted to try her hand at making a REAL cheesecake. (Usually I think Costco is the way to go on these things but...) The problem was I had never purchased or owned the spring foam pan that is needed to make a real cheesecake. 
And I wasn't really wanting to go spend the money on one, not to mention try to store it for the possible next time someone might want to try their hand at making a cheesecake.  So I started making calls. (What I have found, in the art of borrowing, is that someone in your mix of friends usually has the thing you need. (And, if not, at least you tried!))

And sure enough....on the 2nd call my neighbor Nancy said "Sure! I've got a spring foam pan. You're welcome to use it." Ashley ran and got it, went to work on making the cheesecake, found out they are a TON of work, and a few hours later we washed up the pan and took it back to Nancy with a piece of cheesecake in the middle of it. No $25 wasted and no large pan to have to store!

That's just two stories but I have dozens more of things that I have learned to borrow instead of buy and then own and store.

Borrowing is awesome because

1- It lets you TRY OUT new things without making the commitment to BUYING them, thus saving you lots of $$$.

That's the beauty of
the library

or Red Box or Netflix, right?

You HAVE to ask yourself...
why go to Barnes and Noble, Costco or Wal-Mart and BUY a book or movie that you can just borrow, watch, listen to or read and then return again? For FREE or just a few dollars?

2- It saves you from having to STORE, JUGGLE, MOVE AROUND, and DEAL WITH IT more STUFF! (Thus the whole point of this blog:)

How about some of these ideas?

Do you really need to OWN a bundt cake pan for the once or twice a year that you want to make a bundt cake (insert awesome pronunciation here from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding.") Or could you just borrow one from your neighbors and let them store it for you ;)

What about things like life jackets or other outdoor equipment?
Unless you own a boat and go out on the lake often, it really isn't necessary for you to own a collection of life jackets for the once or twice a summer you need them. Just figure out who in your life has a large supply and call them up to borrow one or two for the day. I can promise you from personal experience, as someone who owns a boat and lots of life jackets, we are happy to share!

Halloween costumes are another favorite of mine to borrow or lend out to others. Occasionally I am on the ball and/or one of my children insist on being something specific for Halloween.  But most of the time, a few days before Halloween we start asking the kids "What do you want to be for Halloween?" and they usually say "I don't know...maybe a this or that or this?" And that's when I put out on a plea on Facebook or a group text to friends and say 
"Does anyone have a Harry Potter costume in size 10ish?" 
"Does anyone have a great girl costume for a size 12 girl?" 
I've even gone so far as to ask for specific things like just the right kind of boots for a Flynn Rider costume.
And guess what?
I've yet to be disappointed.
As in, someone always has it and is glad to loan it to us for the week.

And with 6 kids, times 20+ years of trick-or-treating, I have acquired a box of costumes too and I loan some out almost every year. It makes me happy for others to get some use out of them!


Another way that borrowing benefits you is you actually get to know and interact with your neighbors. I've had a lot of great conversations with our neighbors through the years and a lot of those have been started because I asked to borrow something. Most everyone is more than willing to share and I think it makes them feel more connected to you after they have helped you out. A lot of times, when I borrow something, I try to return it with a plate of goodies or a treat. And, let's face it, any time you do something like that, it only BUILDS and ADDS to the relationship!

If you are convinced to give it a try, here are a few other ideas of things you might consider trying to borrow instead of buying:
*prom dresses
*party supplies like drink pitchers, serving utensils, or tablecloths
*air mattresses (for the occasional out-of-town guest)
*specific clothing to match for family pictures
*folding chairs 
*large yard work items like a power washer, extra tall ladder, or rototiller
*wedding decorations

And don't let that be the end of the list.  The main idea is to think before you just run out and BUY something (that you then have to maintain and store

"Can I just borrow this item instead?"

And in talking about the joys of borrowing, I would be remiss if I didn't also talk about the absolute 

1.  Return the item QUICKLY (as in within hours of finishing using it) and in as good if not better condition than when you borrowed it.

2.  If you find yourself borrowing the same item frequently, it's time to go and buy it.

3.  If you break or damage something you borrowed, fix it or replace it promptly.

4.  Be willing to let others borrow your possessions as well.

To me, these four rules go without saying. However, some may not have been taught as children the proper way to borrow or might not feel comfortable with borrowing. Thus, in borrowing from others, make sure you ask in an unassuming way that helps them feel comfortable in saying "no" to your borrowing request. That's why I like asking to borrow on a group Facebook page or in a group text. Some people feel more comfortable letting others borrow things than others do, and that's OK.  I've also found that if you establish yourself as an "excellent" borrower (you follow the 4 rules adamantly and repeatedly) people in your life learn to trust you with their things and allow you to borrow them more often.

 One tip in the area of letting others borrow from you is to keep a small "borrow journal" (I use a 3 x 5 card taped inside the kitchen cupboard) that keeps the simple information of who, when and what of borrowers.  Ours looks like this (although I recreated with different names to protect the innocent :)

When they return the item, you simply cross it off and put it back where it goes in your home. So simple and awesome.

Every once in a while (as in it has happened twice in my adult life) someone might borrow something from you and return it in a broken or damaged condition. I have found that a simple, kind conversation goes a long way here.  "Hi Tracy, this is Kim. You dropped off this dress and it looks like there is a stain on it. Would you be willing to take it to the dry cleaners and then bring it back?"  
It's really that easy.
Both times they have been happy to do so. 

Borrowing is an excellent way to help others out and to help yourself out. To me, it's totally worth it to be able to save money and space and not have to stumble over, worry about and store so much STUFF!

That's why I say....
Learn to borrow instead of own!

Next post:  Rule #5  Be careful when you shop.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Rule #3 Too much of a GOOD thing is still a BAD thing

One of the mistakes people make
is they assume that I hate all stuff
and think you should throw it all away

and that's simply not true.

I think there is a lot of value in really great things that add positively to our lives.

There are a lot of functional, lovely and amazing gadgets and gizmos, not to mention necessities and "desirables."

But let's talk for a minute about amounts.

And let's start by talking about something simple like stuffed animals.

I don't think anyone looking at this picture would ever say that a stuffed animal is a bad thing. There are times in every kid's life where a stuffed animal provides security and happiness. I don't know what it is about them but they are magical that way.
Firefighters, police officers and other first responders usually carry a couple of stuffed animals in their vehicles to give to children who have been through a traumatic experience. And they work wonderfully.

But what about this?


That's overwhelming, and messy and ridiculous.


Stuffed animals are a GOOD THING

What about a really great family game night?

It's fun and full of memories, right?

so no one is saying that board games

are the problem.
They are great
and add a lot of POSITIVE to our lives.

But what about this?


no matter what it is.

 No matter 
how well 
they work...

or how cute 
they are

or how cheap they were.

Too much is too much.

One might ask...

How do you know if it's too much?

Here's a good indicator.

Ask yourself, sincerely,

would I buy this many or this much again if I were starting all over?

A while ago I wrote a blog post about the questions you can ask yourself when dejunking and evaluating your things. You can check it out

One of my favorites is the question 
"If my house was destroyed, would I replace this item with money out of my own pocket?"

A lot of times, when we are talking about TOO MUCH, what has happened is we have taken one good thing, then acquired another, then another and then another and never let any go. We end up with too much on total accident. And, if we thought about it, we would totally acknowledge we would never buy that many if we were starting all over. So why keep them now?

One really great this or that is fantastic.

Too many is not.

My advice, really evaluate the piles of things you have in your home and spaces. Do you NEED 6 rubber spatulas? Do you NEED 8 white tee shirts? Do you NEED 16 white pillow cases? or drawers full of half-dead batteries or 27 glass vases? 

One or two of those is fine. No one is saying any one of those things is a bad thing. But that is TOO MUCH.

And remember

Rule #3:  Too much of a GOOD thing is still a BAD thing.

Next Post:  Rule #4  Learn to borrow instead of own!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Rule #2 When something new comes in, something old goes out.

It's been established that we 
have a lot of stuff in our lives.
We are, after all, living in the age of affluence.
The amount of things that come into our lives on a daily basis is almost staggering.

If you're wondering what can possibly 
be done about it,
try this exercise.

Picture in your mind 
a large table like this, 

whose only job, for two weeks, is to hold
all of the things that are brought into 
your home during that time.
Everything that comes in from
a trip to the grocery store, 
a trip to Costco, 
a trip to the mall, 
a stop at a yard sale or thrift shop, 
a quick run to Wal-Mart or Target, 
 or an emergency trip to Walgreens.
Don't forget the things that show up at your doorstep from Amazon 
or Lands End 
And what if there is a birthday at your house 
or a holiday associated with gifts coming in 
during those 2 weeks? 
Picture it all in your mind....
2 weeks worth of stuff piled 
on the big table.
Is it even big enough to hold it all?

Here is a ONE DAY shot from my house
This is from a trip to Costco,
a stop at the mall (new shirt/necklace :))
a stop at Goodwill for jeans for my kids,
a new cookbook from Amazon,
a new throw blanket from Marshall's,
and a few household supplies from Target.

One 4 hour period brought all of this IN.
For a total of 27 items.

And even though 3/4 of what I brought in 
(about 20 things)
is "use up-able," 
meaning it's going to be consumed 
in some way and not staying permanently, 
1/4 of it (on the left side of the table) 
or about 7 things
are staying for good.

now back to your exercise.
Are your shopping trips and the influx of your stuff much different than mine?
Probably not.

If the picture above is ONE DAY's 
worth of incoming stuff,
go back to your imaginary table and picture how much is coming into your home in a 2 week period and mentally pile it on your table.
Think for a minute about a typical week 
at your house and where you go 
and what you buy. 
Picture what other things come in from other sources too like what your family members bring in or what things people just drop in your lap (or on your doorstep :) 
Put it all on the table in your mind.

consider how much is going OUT 
from your home
in a 2 week period. 
Think about how much you get rid of,
if anything?
And that's a good question....
does anything leave your home 
on a regular basis? 
Or does it all just come IN?

Just like in my home,
I am guessing in your home
probably 3/4ths of what is coming in 
is consumable 
and not staying permanently. 

But 1/4  is. 

And therein lies the problem.

It's simple math actually...

more items come in on a daily/weekly basis
then ever leave

so our spaces and homes fill up.

And pretty soon a 2100 square foot home 
isn't big enough. 

And we find ourselves saying 
"How is it that when we moved into this house, 
we had plenty of space and even some to spare? And now it's full to overflowing, we have to rent extra space (aka a storage unit) and we can't even fit any of our cars in our garage?"

It's simply because you let too much in
and didn't make enough leave.

You didn't follow
Rule #2

As in,
when you get a new 

and yet you kept the old one too.

Why get a new one if you already have one?
Maybe you got it as a gift?

Maybe you found it on a super clearance sale
and couldn't pass it up?

Maybe your mom/sister/friend
passed it down to you?

The point is you already have one and are
getting another one??
So now you have TWO.
(remember the math?)

To reiterate my point,
let me share with you the story of 

I was once teaching a Dejunking and Organizing class for our local community school and I shared the Stuff Management Rule #2 with them too. I told them that when something new comes in, something old goes out and on this particular day I used the example of a bathrobe. I shared a made up scenario that Mothers Day came and a nice big beautiful bathrobe was wrapped sweetly in a box and presented to you by your husband and children. It was sweet of them to think of you, buy a gift (in your size even!) and wrap it up. The problem is: you already have a bathrobe that you like just fine. What are you doing to do now?

When I suggested that one of them needs to go...
(when something new comes in, something old goes out)

one of the women in class piped up "But what if one of your bathrobes is dirty and in the laundry! Then what would you wear?"

She was serious.
My answer was this:

What did you do when all you had was your one and only bathrobe before Mothers Day and it was in the wash? Or what did you do when you went on a vacation to an exotic (or not so exotic) place and didn't want to bring your bulky bathrobe in your suitcase? 

You certainly didn't curl up and die, did you?
Maybe you wrapped a towel around your body instead? 
Maybe you ran naked to the underwear drawer?
Maybe you brought your clothes to the shower room and got dressed right away?

I don't know...but I know you survived.
And you will this time too...and all future times when you don't have the extra bathrobe because it's in the wash....
(or anything else that you got rid of so you could follow Rule #2.)

What if you get a new __________ or ____________ and you say"But Kim, I really like my old ___________  or _____________ better than the new ones I just received," (like in the Mothers Day bathrobe story)
I will refer you to my post about "Gifts"

and tell you....your Mothers Day gift did it's job--you felt loved and appreciated, right? so quietly ask your husband or kids for the receipt (or take it back for in store credit) and pick out something else!

Whatever you do, remember
 Rule #2 
When something new comes in, 
something old goes out.  

To help you see what I am talking about, besides bathrobes...
here are a few examples from my own life:
I received a really wonderful cookbook from my friend, Lori, for Christmas this year so I got rid of 2 smaller cookbooks when this new one came in so that there would be plenty of room in my recipe books cupboard.

See how my recipe books cupboard is full? That means that when a new recipe book comes in, one of them has to go? OR the new one has to go back to the store!

Here's another example:
My husband recently said to me
"My footie socks from Costco are all stretched out. Next time you go, can you please buy me some new ones?"
So I did.
And when the new socks came in, the old ones went OUT.

Here's an even more recent example:
I bought the juice pitcher on the left a while ago and it really STINKS--as in it makes us mad almost every time we use it. The pour spout hole in the lid isn't big enough so water comes out all over the place. And the lid comes off way too easy.
So, for Mother's Day, my two youngest kids went to the store and found me the gorgeous, heavy glass pitcher on the right. 
Isn't it great?
And you can bet, I'm not keeping the old one! 
Good riddance!!

Or someone gave my daughter, Carly, a hand-me-down jacket (the Abercrombie one on the left). It was perfect timing as the jacket on the left is getting just a little too small.
So, in with the NEW and OUT WITH THE OLD! 

And last but certainly not least

My well-worn black pumps on the left have been a favorite but, as you can see, it was time to replace them. (I'm not even showing you the worn out heels.) I've had a lot of great years and outfits with those pumps so when a new pair of shoes like this comes in, it's important to not let any sentimental attachment talk you into keeping the old. Let it go! Marie Kondo would tell you to say "thank you for your service wonderful black pumps" and then let them go. I don't take it quite as far as talking to my stuff but I do love the part about letting it go.  


it's such a good idea to remember

That way, you keep your home from filling up!
It's simple mathematics.

Next Post:  Rule #3   Too much of a good thing is still a bad thing