Sunday, May 17, 2015

A-Z Of Time And Money Saving Household Systems (Part 2, N-Z)

You can read A-M here.

14. Nutrition. Real food, proper sit-down meals, smaller portions, no junk, drink water. It's not rocket science although a number of people have managed to expand this advice into whole books and industries. If you do this you will save loadsa money on food, fewer sick days, doctors and medicine. You will also be more energised for all aspects of your life, more efficient, happier, and spend less money on clothes because you'll look great in everything you already have.

15. Offspring. Your children need systems too. Children with structure in their days get more done and do better than those without. Encourage your children to create a daily and weekly routine to include their homework, hobbies, social activities, exercise, computer time, music practice, and enough sleep. For younger children do it yourself or together and put it on the fridge (with a sticker-reward element if necessary). You don't have to include everything and over-schedule them. For us the important items (which are the ones that meet the most resistance) are homework, brushing teeth, hair washes, and reading practice (in two languages).

16. Places. Everything you own has to have a place in your home where it lives. If it doesn't have a designated place it will be all over the shop getting in the way, looking messy, and ultimately getting lost. This applies to post, hats/gloves/umbrellas, remote controls, miscellaneous stationary and home office equipment, gift wrapping items, stores of unused toiletries for eventual use or regifting, old magazines, glasses and sunshades... in short, everything. And of course you need to regularly put everything in it's place.

17. Queen for a day. Time for yourself to do something fun, has to be built into the system. It could be once a month or once a week. It could be a coffee or lunch with a friend, it could be a cinema or concert outing, it could be a day shopping or at a spa, a monthly mani-pedi or a massage. It doesn't have to be a week in Paris though that would be nice. Just something to make you feel relaxed and good about yourself. Factor it in according to your budget. If it's a walk in the woods and a picnic by the lake that's fine. If it's a gin and tonic and an uninterrupted dvd that's also fine. If you plan it it will be money saving because the alternative is to reach the end of your tether and go on a spontaneous splurge.

18. Rainy Day. Even if you regularly finish the month in minus, you need to find a system for saving for a rainy day. I put the minimal amount allowable into a savings account by monthly automatic transfer and forget about it. There's hardly any interest atm but when I have a reasonable sum I'll review the best place to put it and move it if necessary. It's a pay yourself first system even though I could often do with the money for other things. One of my friends started collecting 2 shekel coins. Whenever she had one in her purse she put it in a jar. When she had 1,000 2 shekel pieces that would be a short holiday for her and her children (about 350GBP). Other friends have occasional work which is outside their regular income and put that money into savings. Another system is to look at your expenses and see where you can shave off savings - and of course save that money. Sell unwanted items on Ebay or your local Buy, Sell, Swap group on fb (start one if you can't find one). Set yourself challenges for furnishing a small emergency fund (new fridge), a larger fall back fund (temporary unemployment of up to 6 months), and a long term plan (new house, pension). These are but a few saving systems I've heard about, there are plenty more I'm sure. You might need to be creative but don't try sleeping in Heathrow aiport and having someone set up a Go Fund Me for you. It's been done and it backfired.

19. Shopping list. Have one on your computer with all the household items you use regularly. Print it out once a week and tick off things as you run out. Before you go shopping check it against your menu plan for the coming week and add any special extras such as birthday cake decorations or a gift to take to a party.

20. Timetable. You can go take a look at the FlyLady. This is timetabling in the extreme. She has Control Journals for every inch of your house for every hour of the day, every day of the week, every month, every season, every occasion, and every year. You could schedule the life out of your life. If you search You Tube for Control Journals there are hilarious and excruciatingly boring at the same time, vlogs of people showing you their giant files of lists and routines in great detail. Having said that, it makes sense to schedule tasks outside of your regular work for housework, accounts, mending, cooking, gardening, quality time, hobbies, etc... You can take it as far as you like from jotting things down in your diary to the full control journal lifestyle. Things will get done and you won't have to throw money at projects that you could have finished yourself but now need help with because the time ran out.

21. Underwear. We had 6 years worth of socks and knickers (well maybe only 4 years on the knickers) stuffed into drawers in DD's bedroom. I also tend to keep socks, knickers and bras way past their usefulness. what's more, I always buy a packet of knickers or socks in M&S (or Primark for DD) on our yearly visit to England. So the underwear mountains just keep growing. For DD the ridiculous thing is that the older items don't even fit her anymore and for me they're just worn and holey. Go through your underwear once a year and free up space. You might also be surprised to find enough good pairs of socks/tights/knickers so that you actually don't need to buy more for a while. Throw out the tired things.

22. Vegeburgers and kugels. Any leftover vegetables, pulses, and grains can be made into vegeburgers (or if you bake it in one big dish it's a kugel). Just saute your vegetables if necessary, soak your pulses and cook them if necessary, and mix everything up with eggs and any grains (rice, polenta, flour, breadcrumbs), or mashed potato for binding. Season and make your mixture into patties for vegeburgers or turn into a well oiled dish and bake in the oven until golden brown on top for kugels.

23. Wardrobe. You need to be able to see what you have and it needs to be folded ready to wear. Otherwise you'll be in a perpetual nothing-to-wear cycle of buying new clothes and sending them to Narnia at the back of the wardrobe. Last year Project 333 was popular. You choose 33 items to wear for 3 months. This cuts down your choices but, if all 33 items coordinate, you actually save time and have more choice. You change your 33 items with each season for weather conditions and variety. The great thing about this is that you don't actually have to throw anything out, just pack it away for the season. If an unexpected skiing trip lands in your lap (as it does - to some but not to me) you can of course dig out your skiing gear for the holiday. Same for scuba diving, hop picking, and volunteering in Africa - your 33 items do not have to cover every eventuality.

24. Xtras. There are so many more systems that work for people. Here are some I can think of. If you have experience with any of these I'd love to read about it in a comment. Couponing, bartering or swapping services such as gardening or babysitting, pot luck or contribution dinners and parties, car pooling, entering prize contests, upcycling, swap meetings, thrift shop shopping, house swap holidays, staycations, camping, planning for future events by gift buying in advance when you see something on offer, vegetable growing, and store cupboard kitchens.

25. Yearly Goals. The years go by and those years when you didn't have a baby, graduate, move house or get a new job, can be lost in eras of minimal achievement. If the word 'goals' scares you, call them intentions or aspiritations. You can do it yearly but it's also good to have a system of monthly or even weekly goals. It's true that 'how you spend your days is how you live your life.' Don't over extend yourself or be unrealistic but it is important to know where you want to be heading or you might never get anywhere. What a waste of the years that would be. Five and Ten Year plans are also helpful. Mind maps are a fun way to do this with coloured pens but lists work just as well.

25. Zzzzz. You need to make sure you're getting enough sleep or every other system will work at half effiency levels. Work backwards from the time you have to get up in the morning and make sure you get what you need - you know what your optimum number of hours is. If you like to read in bed, go to bed half an hour earlier to allow for this. Leave your tech devices in another room.


  1. From Margie in Toronto - just catching up on a few posts - love these last two (the ABC's) - lots of good tips and suggestions. I'm scaling back more and more on the clothes - I'll have to take a count but I think I've managed the 333 amount for my summer wardrobe.
    Another suggestion for the underwear problem (and other worn out clothing) - I save them for travel and then throw out as I go. I'm leaving for Iceland on Friday night and only take a 20" case and a tote bag. Black wool pants that are now too big (and have been worn for about 4 years) - old jeans for travelling in (also too big now and old) and 2 white shirts for wearing under sweaters (now too big and yellowed), along with now grubby undies, won't be making the return trip. This allows space for any items purchased (hoping for a lovely Icelandic sweater, a scarf & mitts) for next winter.
    I've also learned to use up leftovers creatively - adding bits and pieces of protein & veg to a carb makes some quick and cheap meals.
    Also keep a coin jar and once it's full rather than rolling everything I take it to a grocery store that I use regularly and they have a machine (they take a small cut but it's worth it to me) and then it's almost like a free week's groceries.
    Love your posts - always lots of fun.

    1. Great idea about travelling in worn clothes and throwing them out. I do that with old knickers sometimes. And yes, it's amazing how a basic carb and some added leftovers can make a great meal.

  2. These tips are great. Just hopped over from MFin3 and now working my way back through your posts :) We just Kondo'd our clothes and shoes but having seen what we had hidden way back in 'Narnia', I totally get your point!

    1. Thank you. Narnia would be a great name for a second hand clothing shop I think. :)