Friday, February 20, 2009

Take Inventory

Tip #74 – Take Inventory Of What You Have. You can probably cut back on buying many things if you just go around your home and write down exactly what it is you have on hand. You may have purchased plenty of an item a long time ago that you have forgotten about. Or your house is cluttered with so much stuff that you don’t know what you have or where it is.

How about taking a piece of paper and listing all of the items that you use on a regular basis? Then take stock of the things you have in the house. It will give you a good idea of what you do not need to buy and what you need more of. You may not use everything on this list, but here is a sample list I wrote up:

shampoo, lotion, tissues, toilet paper, nail polish, razors, bandages, feminine protection, diapers, wipes, cotton balls, cotton swabs, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, nail files, Tylenol or similar medicine

Office Supplies:
pens, pencils, paper, markers, tape, staples, paperclips, rubber bands, glue, envelopes

socks, pantyhose, underwear, undershirts, hats, gloves

batteries, film, blank DVDs, video camera tapes

washcloths, laundry soap, bars of soap, dish soap, dishwasher soap, household cleaners, sponges

Food Staples:
canned goods, flour, sugar, ketchup, cereal, salt, pepper, spices, bottled water

Kitchen supplies:
napkins, paper cups, paper plates, paper towels, trash bags, baggies, aluminum foil, plastic wrap

Do you have your list made up? Good! Now go around and put down a count of how many you have of each item. Then estimate how long it will be until the supply you have will be used up. For example, suppose you counted 26 tubes of toothpaste. If you estimate that you normally use one tube per month, then you have more than a two years’ supply. If you are one of those people who likes to have a one-year supply of things, then there is no need to buy any more toothpaste – regardless of how good the deal is. You have more than enough on hand. However, if you only have three pairs of pantyhose and you know you go through about 12 pairs in a year, then you need to add it to your list of things to buy.

If you are like me and thousands of other Americans, you will probably find that you have way more of many items than you originally thought. And because of that, you can probably hold off on buying things for a while. Use what you have on hand and save some money.

In Real Life (IRL) – I was reading a blog the other day with a link to some super environmentally-friendly sponges that are available called Skoy Cloths. Since I am pretty environmentally conscious and they got good reviews, I considered buying them. Then I thought to myself, the best thing to do for the environment and for my pocketbook is to use what we have on hand before I buy something new. I remembered that when my mother-in-law had visited her sister in Germany last year, she brought us back some dishcloths. I put them away in the closet and forgot about them. So I went on the hunt in my house and found the package of 6 reusable cleaning cloths, along with a few sponges. No need for me to buy those environmentally-friendly cloths right now (although I might try them out in the future).

That got me thinking about other things in the house that I have laying around that I can use up before buying more. I looked in the medicine cabinet and counted 12 bottles of nail polish! I am not a nail polish kind of gal; therefore many of them have been sitting in the medicine cabinet for years. However, my girly girls like to have their nails polished. I think the supply that we have in the medicine cabinet will last them 5 more years, at least.

I then moved on to paper party plates. I don't use paper on a regular basis, but I do if I throw a big party. I counted plates and figured I have enough for the next two or three parties we hold. Of course some say "Welcome Baby" and others have Dora on them. But it will make for some interesting conversation at the next party, and I’d much rather use up what I have before I buy more. I haven't finished taking inventory, but it's been interesting to find what we have stocked up in this household, and I'm not a person who necessarily stocks up much.

I have a friend who is constantly shopping, and her house is pretty cluttered. She and her husband have been on a cleaning spree lately. The husband told me the other day that he is happy that they are finally cleaning up, because they be able to find some of the stuff they have ‘lost.’ He said they have bought so many duplicate things because they couldn’t locate the one they owned. Now that’s a topic for a whole other post! But the waste is the same if you are buying stuff you already have, as some it may never get used or could go bad before it does. And there is really no need for duplicates of certain things.

Of course I know that many of us like to stock up on things when they are free or a great deal. And I agree that it is a great practice to save money if you will use all of it. But once you have a year’s supply of something, you should be able to stop buying it no matter how good the deal is. The bargains will always be there. So take stock of what you have, and if you have plenty of something (a year's supply or a three-month supply, whatever you are comfortable with), then save yourself some money and don't buy any more.

1 comment:

David said...

If people really want to get serious about saving money then they should add Bathroom Bidet Sprayers to all their bathrooms. Available at with these you won't even need toilet paper any more, just a towel to dry off! It's cheap and can be installed without a plumber; and runs off the same water line to your toilet. You'll probably pay for it in a few months of toilet paper savings. And after using one of these you won't know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. Now we're talking green and helping the environment without any pain.