Monthly Archives

April 2017

Organising

How An Organised Space Can Save You Money

I’ve always been a bit of a frugal-er, trying to limit waste and unnecessary spending where I could and had a desire to get more organised. After living out of home for five years, I realised we’d developed some bad habits.

We were binning massive amounts of spoiled food each week. Most of it fresh food we’d bought with good intentions but just hadn’t gotten around to eating. Finding stuff in the pantry was a difficult process with random cans thrown in sporadically and no real organisation system. We’d go shopping list-less and come home with five cans of corn only to realise we already had eight in the pantry.

We were constantly leaving things to the last minute. Often realising we’d forgotten to buy a birthday present, we’d rush around hoping we could find something the day of the party in sheer craziness. Cleaning was an ordeal having to try and vacuum around whatever clothes and furniture items we had on the floor.

I was sick of the disorganisation and having unnecessary stress in our lives. After being overwhelmed by clutter, and the anxiety and stress it caused me I set out to change my home environment. I wanted to have a more calming space – I didn’t want to see mess everywhere and trip over things.

Once starting the decluttering process of my home I realised there was an added benefit to having an organised space. It was aiding our budgeting and helping us to save more money. Here is How an Organised Space Can Save You Money and how it has benefited us.

1. Save on groceries and buying duplicates.

Since organising our home we can now see what we have at a glance. In the pantry, all cans are lined up, long-life milk, snacks are in the one place which makes creating our shopping list that much easier. Our fridge is no longer filled to capacity as we only buy what we will need for the week ahead. This means we can reduce the food we are wasting each week and save on our grocery bill. Having an organised space allows us to avoid bringing home multiples of an item we already have, whether that be groceries or things we misplace or have just forgotten we have.

2. Reduce your clothing budget.

Organising your wardrobe is a huge game changer in terms of spending. Before I discovered the amazement of being organised I used to have my wardrobe and drawers overflowing with clothes. Each wash day I’d shove a new pile in, on top of the stuff that had just become accustomed to staying at the bottom of the drawer. I remember the first time I decided to declutter my wardrobe, I found three pairs of black shorts. I’m not sure how many pairs of black shorts anyone needs, but the fact that I had three that I had not only not worn in years, but didn’t even know I had them was quite eye-opening to me.

From that moment I realised how important it is to keep what you have organised and to regularly assess what you have so you know what items you own. In the past I would just buy new clothes, chuck them in a drawer or in my wardrobe with the intention of wearing them and often completely forgot I had ever bought them. I’d never really taken stock of what clothing I owned. Now when I go shopping I know at least 99% of my wardrobe off the top of my head. I know what shoes I have to mix and match with outfits and can better select what I am bringing into my wardrobe.

3. You’re more content living in a smaller home.

Since organising our home the feeling of claustrophobia has diminished. I no longer feel like our house is too small and that we need more space. I’m rarely tempted to look at larger homes to buy. Even if it springs to mind when I see a nice photo of a home, I remember how much I love cleaning a smaller home and how I would never want the additional hours of work to pay for one and lost hours keeping up with the maintenance that comes with a bigger home. After decluttering all areas of our home we’ve actually managed to free up some storage space and are in no rush to fill them back up.

4. Planning ahead is easier and you can avoid impulse purchases.  

About two years ago I started using a diary to get more organised. After about a year I switched to a Bullet Journal and was instantly impressed by the simplicity it brought to my life. By being more organised and writing in my bullet journal I am able to save money in numerous ways. Whether it be planning ahead for dinner so I can avoid buying take out that night. Making a note to buy a gift for someone a month ahead instead of running around the day before in a rush and blowing the gift budget. Or making a note to compare prices on a new purchase in order to get the best price and save money.  

5. You’ll become more intentional with purchases.

Now that we have decluttered our home we are very keen to keep it from getting out of hand again. This impacts my day-to-day activities and spending. I no longer walk into shops aimlessly to pass time or find some kind of satisfaction from buying something new.

Before I buy anything now, it has to hold up to a range of requirements. I will ask myself questions such as do I really need this? Do I have a place for it? Is it something I will be willing to dust from now until when I get rid of it? Most of the time the answer is no and I walk away from it.

When you start making more conscious decisions with what you are purchasing on a daily basis you develop new habits and soon enough the desire to buy lessens and your desire for a calm, organised space keeps you from reverting back to old habits.

6. Save money not having to replace lost items.

Have you ever gone to look for something and not been able to locate it? I am pretty sure we have all been here. You think to yourself, maybe I never had it or gave it away? You go out to replace the items. Sometimes the original turns up and you feel a little silly but even after turning the house upside down at the time you couldn’t find it! This is another way an organised space can save you money. By having organisational systems in place you can avoid losing things in your home and replacing them. Even more importantly this wastes another important resource, your time. Imagine all the more important things you could be doing with the time wasted looking for lost items.

7. You can sell your unwanted stuff online. 

Another way an organised space can save you money is as you organise you will truly realise how much excess you have in your home. After a while we begin to grow used to seeing our stuff and don’t realise how much of it there is.

Have you ever walked into someones house and felt claustrophobic from all the stuff?! You’ve probably not even noticed your house might be heading in the same direction. It’s not until you start questioning what you do and don’t use that you realise you could live without some of the stuff cluttering up your home.

The great thing about decluttering is that your unwanted items can be useful to other people and that can help you claw back some of the money spent on excess items you have in your home. You will never get all of your money back, and sometimes you won’t get any of it but it is possible to sell your clutter and add to your savings account.

It is truly amazing how much you can get for old electronics, gaming consoles, clothes, camera gear, books or whatever other junk you might have in your to go pile. If you’re reluctant to give something away because you spent a lot of money on it, sometimes knowing that you can get a little bit back from it by selling it makes the letting go process a little easier.

Alternatively, if you don’t need the money or don’t have the time, donate unwanted items to a local charity. Think of all the times you’ve found something you love in an op-shop for a few dollars because someone was generous enough to donate it. Pay it forward! 

8. Being organised saves you time and stress.

When you plan ahead and get organised you can save one of your most precious resources – time! Imagine all the things you could do with your spare time if it wasn’t spent doing mountains of laundry each week! No looking for lost items or spending half an hour clearing out food in your fridge that has gone bad. As they say, time is money and an organised space can save you both! When you no longer have to live with the consequences of an unorganised space, you’ll have more time to spend on more enjoyable things.

How have you found an organised space has saved you money? Comment below with your experience!

  

Organising

9 Top Decluttering Methods for Your Home

A couple of years ago I was frustrated with the amount of stuff that had accumulated in my humble sized home. Every cupboard, drawer, shelf, counter top was filled with stuff and added stress to every day life. Trying to cook dinner was a chore with piles of stuff on our small kitchen island that was hard enough to prepare meals with. It was a fight every time I tried to open a cupboard to get a set of sheets or towel out. Getting dressed often involved pulling out endless clothes only to realise that nothing went together, no longer fit, or had a button missing.

I knew something had to change and so I set out decluttering every area of my home that I could think of. Not a single drawer, shelf or cupboard was safe. It was a slow process I carried out in my spare time day to day over a period of 2 years. Lucky for me I found it therapeutic and it became something I am really passionate.

That isn’t the case for everyone. Some people find the process tiresome and tedious and may just not have the time to dedicate to it. Since starting my decluttering journey, I have researched many methods to get your clutter under control that will hopefully speed up the process and give you a helping hand with where and how to start. Here are 9 Top Decluttering Methods to Declutter Your Home that I believe on their own or in unison, can help you get on your way to a more decluttered home.

 

METHODS TO DECLUTTER YOUR HOME

1. Konmari organising by category.

The Konmari method of decluttering is based on identifying what you want to keep, rather than what to get rid of. The decision on whether to keep each item is decided by asking if the item sparks joy. If the answer is yes, it goes in the keep pile. If no, it goes in the donate or trash pile.

The approach to this method is to declutter by one category at a time, rather than location. If you have books in different rooms, you are to move all of them into one location and sort all of them at once. This allows you to see the vast amount of stuff you have of one category and helps you to avoid keeping multiples of things you might not have known you had, if they were kept in separate locations.

Take clothes for example, if you have some in your drawers, cupboard in the hall closet and have some in the laundry you may not realise how many clothes you really have until they are piled up on your bed in a clothing mountain.

Konmari sets out the order for decluttering which is based on perfecting your decluttering skills before you move onto the harder items like sentimental items. She suggest the order of clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous household items like valuables, craft supplies, stuff for hobbies, office supplies, electronics and kitchen items) and finally, sentimental items.

Pros: This decluttering method focuses on identifying what you love rather than what you don’t. Over time it allows you to be more aware of what you do love and what you don’t. It also encourages us to be thankful for what we do have and appreciate our things as we say thank you to each donated item. Part of decluttering is to learn to be grateful for what we do have and to realise that when we have more of what we love we are more content with less.

Cons: Taking every item from one category such as clothing can be extremely time consuming and overwhelming. Best to be done one a day where you have a few spare hours as it is not something that can be done in a small amount of time. This method also can make it harder to let your stuff go if you find yourself saying everything sparks joy. 

 

2. Four Box Method – relocate, donate, trash, sell 

The four box decluttering method allows you to make quick decisions and tackle small areas to declutter. Start with grabbing four boxes, containers, washing baskets or whatever you have on hand and labelling them with relocate, donate, trash and sell. As you move through each area make a decision for each piece in the area you are decluttering and place it into the appropriate box.

This decluttering method can be flexible to sort through a whole room or a small area and can be used for quick decluttering or bigger time slots. Anything you decide to keep can stay in the same location.

Relocate: Anything that doesn’t belong in the space you are decluttering, that you plan to keep goes into the relocate box. Once it is full you can start to put these items back where they belong.

Donate: These are any items that you no longer want or need, that are in good condition and could be used by other people. When the box is full put it in your boot and drop it off at your local charity bin or shop.

Sell: This container is for any items of value that you no longer want, but that you could sell on ebay, facebook or local buy, swap sell sites. I would recommend setting a $20 limit, if you can’t sell any items for more than $20 it is probably not going to be worth the time and effort to list it and deal with shipping it or arranging a pick up. If you are in need of cash and have the time by all means set a lower limit.

Trash: This is for any items you no longer or want that are damaged, unsaleable or not in good condition to donate. Sometimes it is best to split this into two containers one for trash and one for recyclables. Just bring your regular recycling bin into the room ready for any reccling. Do your bit for the environment and dispose of each item as thoughtfully as possible. If it can be donated, recycled or sold take that option and limit what ends up in landfill. 

Pros: This decluttering method helps you to easily keep track of each item and where it should go and makes it easier to move those items to the appropriate location whether that be another room or the bin. It gives you 4 options to help limit any overwhelm from decision making. Also saves you time being able to grab a box such as trash and take it to the bin all at one. 

Cons: This decluttering method doesn’t really give you any guidelines on where to start like the Konmari method. Sometimes having the decision based on what to keep, rather than what to get rid of makes for easier decision making on what to keep or dispose of.

 

3. The Minimalists Packing Party

The Packing Party is a game established by the Minimalists Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn for people who don’t want to take a year to declutter their stuff and want fast results. The idea is that you box up all of your possessions and only take out each item as you need them to decide what you do use and what you don’t.

As you need towels, plates, clothes, shoes and other items take them out of the box. After 21 days see what you didn’t touch and make a decision on what’s left as to whether it stays or goes. If there is anything not out of the boxes consider whether it truly adds value to your life and consider selling, donating, giving it away or trashing it.  

Pros: Great method if you don’t want to spend months decluttering or a year. Allows you to declutter your home quickly and see what you do and don’t use on a regular basis. 

Cons: This can seem like a pretty extreme, messy decluttering method. It may save time decluttering and speed up the process, but packing up all of your stuff is going to take a significant amount of time in itself.

Minimise With Me’s Tip: If packing up your entire house seems daunting, unnecessary or impossible, try packing up one area at a time. Your towels, make-up, wardrobe, your kitchen utensils, plates and cups. After 2 weeks assess what you didn’t need from each area and declutter accordingly.  

 

4. The Minimalists Mins Game

The Mins Game is a game developed by the minimalists to make decluttering a little more fun and to ease you into the process. Start off on day one decluttering one item. Day two declutter two items. Day three, three items and so on until you get to day 30 where you declutter 30 items. Over the space of 30 days you will have decluttered a total of 465 items.

A great game to start off a new month and keep you on your toes. To keep you motivated and keep track of your progress you can post your photos with #minsgame to look back on your decluttering journey and see others progress to help motivate you.

Pros: Builds momentum, starting small with one items and gradually increasing the number. Great way to motivate you to declutter a large number of items in a small space of time.

Cons: It can be frustrating initially to only declutter one item. Not extremely flexible in terms of time as you need to have more and more time to declutter as the month progresses which may not suit your schedule.

 

5. The Minimalists 90/90 rule

The 90/90 rule is one that you can use to look forward in time and backwards to make a decision on what to keep. It can be applied to your wardrobe or whatever else you like by simply asking have I used this in the last 90 days and do I see myself using it in the next 90 days.

If there is something you have been holding onto ‘just in case’, ask yourself have I used this in the past three months and would I use it again in the next three months? Writing a list of these items can help keep track of what things you are considering. 

Over the next three months be mindful of the item. If you have a use for it, you’re most likely going to use the item over that time frame. If at the end of that six month assessment period you still are yet to use an item and it isn’t something seasonal, consider if it is something you truly need.

The 20/20 rule below can help you make this decision.

 Pros: This can speed up the decluttering process by allowing you to consider the past three months in your decision (six months in today) rather than only looking ahead like the backwards hanger method.     

Cons: This decluttering method doesn’t take into account that some items are things that you want to keep but might only use for a small period of the year such as seasonal items like ski equipment. For these items it is probably best to stretch the assessment period to looking back six months and forward six months as opposed to three. 

 

6. The Minimalists 20/20 Just in Case Rule:

The 20/20 Just in Case rule is a helpful tool to allow you to let go of items that you aren’t sure you’ll need but keep thinking – what if I need it one day? This rule can be used in conjunction with the 90/90 rule and sets out that if you don’t need something but feel like you should hang onto it just in case you need it one day, consider whether you can replace that item within 20 minutes for less than $20. If that is the case, let it go.

You’ll often find that 99% of the time, what you have donated or sold won’t be missed. If there is that one item that you ended up needing you can easily go and reacquire it without having it take up valuable storage space in your home when you are not using it and at $20 it won’t blow you budget. 

Pros: Helps in letting go some those just in case items you’re reluctant to get rid of.

Cons: You may have a handful of items that you dispose of that you have to repurchase at a later date. By being honest with whether you need something, this will be kept to a minimum. 

 

METHODS TO DECLUTTER YOUR WARDROBE

7. The Backwards Hanger Method

This decluttering method is used to downsize your wardrobe and assess what you do and don’t wear. Simply take all the clothes on your hangers and turn them backwards so the coat hanger hook is facing towards you. As you wear each piece and wash it return it to the wardrobe facing forward.

Set a note on your calendar for three, six or twelve months, whatever you prefer, to remind you to review what you have and haven’t worn in that time. Whatever is still facing backwards at the end of the calendar period is what hasn’t been worn and can probably be donated or sold.

Keep in mind that some items like coats, will not be worn for 3-6 months across the summer months so it is probably best to seperate your clothes by season and only include the clothes you will wear that season for review.

Pros: Takes the difficulty out of decluttering your wardrobe. Just set a reminder on your phone and have a reassessment at a later date. Allows you to ‘save’ clothes that you might have put off wearing and will encourage to wear your favourite item more. 

Cons: It is only useful for clothing and for items that you have hung up. If you don’t have much hanging space it won’t allow you to declutter much of your wardrobe. 

 

8. Courtney Carver’s Project 333 Capsule Wardrobe

Courtney Carver’s Project 333 is a capsule wardrobe challenge to only wear 33 items. It includes clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes over a three month period. It excludes sentimental jewellery that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing.

Once you have picked 33 items that you love and that can be mixed and matched, box up the remainder of your wardrobe, seal it with tape and put it out of sight. This capsule wardrobe is created every three months in order to tailor a wardrobe for each season of the year.

Pros: Takes the stress out of getting dressed every day included trying to open your drawers. Everything in your wardrobe is something that you love wearing so you won’t have to stand at your wardrobe each morning looking through clothes you don’t like or wear. Help you to get to know what clothing you enjoy wearing and what suits you so you can reduce buying clothes that end up unworn.

Cons: Paring down to 33 items for 3 month is definitely a challenge. If you can’t do 33 items, set a reasonable limit – 40 or 50 and see if you can manage that and try and pair it down with your next three month wardrobe. It is meant to help you streamline your wardrobe not torture you.

 

9. Minimise With Me’s Drawer Rotation Method 

After all my research on decluttering methods, I haven’t really found any decluttering method that catered to clothing that was not hung up- but folded in drawers. I wouldn’t have been able to hang up all my clothes in my wardrobe due to the space limits. I also wanted to avoid going out and buying more coat hangers or special hangers to hold up singlets, shorts and the like, temporarily.

I wanted a decluttering method that would allow me to assess what clothes I did and didn’t use, like the backwards hanger method for the clothing hung up in my wardrobe, but for the clothing I kept in my drawers.

I came up with the Drawer Rotation Method which is a system I use, along with the Konmari Folding Technique, where you put your clean, folded washing to the back of your drawers – rather than in front.

This encourages you to wear all the items in your drawers, not just the items that you regularly wear and put back to the front, leaving the back items to sit for weeks or even months unworn and potentially forgotten, cluttering up your drawers.

This Drawer Rotation Method has helped me to keep an even rotation of the clothes I wear that are folded in drawers. It also helps to identify what you do and don’t wear. After a while that old shirt that you hate wearing will be sitting at the front of your drawer as a constant reminder of how it might be time to donate or trash it.

Pros: Helps you to assess which clothes in your drawers you wear more frequently over a period of time and which ones you can declutter.

Cons: Only works if you use the Konmari folding technique where clothes as stacked horizontally in parcels, rather than in vertical, less-visible piles.

 

Have you tried any of the above methods? Did you find them helpful? Have you come across any others that have helped you? Please comment below with what has helped you declutter your home!

Budgeting

11 Everyday Tips to Help You Save Money

Sometimes finding ways to save money can seem too hard and an impossibility. You research tips and  think to yourself how is saving $12 a month on bank fees or a few dollars on a coffee really going to have any impact on my savings? How will that help me get on top of my debt or save for a holiday? It may all seems like too much effort with limited results but it is important to stay focused on the bigger picture.

Savings can be found anywhere you spend your money. In order to find them you need to look at where you currently spend your money and get creative about ways to reduce those expenditures. Often it could be as simple as a phone call to ask for a better deal or taking ten minutes to research something a little bit more before hitting the buy button. Becoming complacent about spending can end up with us losing $100s or $1000s of dollars.

Here are 11 Everyday Tips to Help You Save Money. Each one alone may only give you a small increase in your savings, but together they can make a big different over the space of a year and the less money that comes out of your pocket day to day the better for your savings account and future.

1. Review insurance annually

Shop around for all insurance bills annually. Insurance can increase significantly year to year and most companies will take advantage of loyal customers who don’t put the time in to compare what they are being charged. Most insurance companies offer quick online quotes and allow you to alter the market value and excess coverage in order to get a true comparison. Within minutes you can have a few price comparisons for the insurance you are renewing and be well on your way to save money.

I’ve often saved hundreds of dollars doing this and for each insurance type over a year the savings can significantly add up. Do this for your car insurance, home and contents and any other insurance you purchase and it can easily save you hundreds of dollars or more a year. Another option is to call your insurance provider to ask if they can make you a better deal.  

2. Only shop when you have something specific in mind

Avoid going to the shops unless you specifically need something, particularly if the only reason is because you are bored. Make an ongoing list in your phone or planner of what you need as you think of it and take your list with you on your next trip to the shops. Sticking to a list will allow you to limit your shopping to specific stores and aisles, helping you avoid temptations of items not on your list. Not only will this help you save money but also save time, allowing you to use your time more wisely and create more space for more value adding activities.

3. Shop around for mobile phone plans regularly

Phone bills can add a significant cost to your annual budget. To save money shop around for phone plans, particularly if you are on a no lock in contract arrangement and have the flexibility to move around. Phone companies are always updating offers to attract new customers and if you haven’t researched in the past twelve months what offers are available to you, you may be losing out on some amazing savings.

By changing my phone provider, I was able to take up a 6 month phone plan for new customers that was half the price I was paying to my current provider for the same inclusions. This added up to a saving of $210 in the first year. It may not sound like a lot but that saving alone covers my gym membership for the next four months and that is definitely money better spent on my health. 

4. Limit dining out

Limit eating out where possible. If you do want to go out, buy the meal you most prefer to eat out whether that is breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. For me personally I can easily make toast or pancakes at home so I would rather use my dining out budget to pay for dinner which is something much more time consuming for me to create.

For dessert, often instead of going out and paying $30 on top of our dinner bill, I’ll opt for an ice cream at the movies or occasionally have some store bought waffles on hand in the pantry which comes out much cheaper and certainly doesn’t seem like a sacrifice to me! If you have a dinner outing that you don’t want to miss, opt for one of the cheaper menu items so you can socialise whilst avoiding blowing your budget. Alternatively, staying home and making dinner with friends or your partner is always a good compromise.

5. Reduce one of your regular expenses 

What do you buy regularly? Is it coffee? Chocolate? A soft drink at lunch? Pick one expense you buy regularly and try and reduce your spending on that one item. If you love coffee, buy a good quality coffee to have at home and bring your reusable coffee cup out with you. Can you bring in a bottle and have water at lunch instead of spending $4 daily on a coke? Could you cut back on buying the pricey vending machine chocolate on your afternoon tea and just bring some from home? Even if you just cut back slightly, or even make small reductions to two regular expenses that will give your savings a kick start.

6. Create a wish list with a wait period

Sometimes we don’t even realise we are making impulse purchases and taking a step back, or waiting a few of days to think about a purchase can help us be more intentional with what we are buying and bringing into our homes. Creating a wishlist is a great way to think about future purchases. When you come across something you want to buy, write it on your wishlist and try and wait a period of time such as 30 days before buying the items you have listed. This will help you to avoid impulse purchases and make more informed decisions.

A wishlist allows you to truly assess whether this new purchase is needed, if it will add value to your life and whether you want to part with your hard earned cash in exchange for it. It also allows you time to consider other products, look into reviews, ask friend for recommendations and do price comparisons to make sure you are getting the best product for your needs at the best price.

Your wait period can start small and you can gradually increase it to what suits you. To begin with, set a goal to walk away from the shop, say to yourself if I really want this I will come back to buy it before I leave. If you still want the item when you are ready to leave you’ll make the effort. Making educated purchases can help you avoid suffering any buyer’s remorse, having to go through the hassle of a return and save you any disappointment in your purchase.   

7. Review your utility plans

Have you been paying your utility bills on autopilot without reviewing what plan you are on? A quick call to your service provider can save you hundreds in a matter of minutes. Buy contacting my utility provider I was able to switch to a new plan that offered a 16% discount for on time or early payment. A quick ten minute phone call has added up to hundreds of dollars of savings that have helped us to save money and signficantly reduce our utility bills.

8. Unsubscribe from store mailing lists 

We are constantly exposed to advertising whether it be on the radio, TV, Youtube, or when we are checking our email. My inbox seemed to constantly be filling up with new sales and offers from stores and became and unnecessary distraction. Unsubscribe to your unwanted shopping email subscriptions as they come into your inbox. When you aren’t being informed on sales 24/7 you will reduce the desire to go shopping and buy unneccesary things as well as the fear of missing out. Instead of having advertisements telling you what you need to buy, you can be more intentional and only add to your wish list things that you need.

9. Stop paying ATM and monthly bank fees

No one likes paying bank fees, there is no benefit to us for these costs which makes this area a great place to start to save money. Learn where your banks local ATMs and stop withdrawing cash at other bank tellers. Each withdrawal is at $2.50 or more which does add up particularly if you are only withdrawing small amounts. Think ahead or pay by card where you can. Consider getting a card like ING’s Orange Everyday Account which gives a 100% ATM fee rebate.

Another expense that adds up are monthly bank fees. Contact your bank and ask them to wave fees on any bank account that you deposit $1000 or more into each month. If you are being charged monthly bank fees on your mortgage consider changing your home loan to a fee free one or asking for those fees to be waived. These small banking fees add up month to month and are much better in your bank account.

10. Review your super accounts

Do you have one superannuation account for every job you have had to date and have yet to consolidate them? Each superannuation account pays out management and insurance fees and if you are paying for these twice, or more, you are throwing away a large chunk of your retirement savings.  Consolidating your super is a lot easier than some might think. Most super funds just require you to fill in a Consolidate Your Super form and will contact your other superannuation fund to transfer your balance into your new account on your behalf. It may seem like your retirement is a lifetime away but every dollar you can save today is going to make your life a lot easier in the future.

11. Sign up to your local library

I recently joined my local library after hearing about the access to borrowing eBooks and audio books. I never go to the library, but could not pass up access to free ebooks and audiobooks on my phone. You only have to go to the library once to sign up and after download the OverDrive app you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks for free without having to leave your chair. I’ve listened and read countless audio and ebooks this way. If you aren’t too set on only reading physical copies this is a great way to read more and save money on buying books. They might not have every book you are after but any access to more books is a good thing.

Do you have any tips to save money that have worked for you? Please comment below to share with other readers.

Cleaning

10 Benefits of Home-Made Cleaning Products

We are constantly bombarded with ads telling us what new cleaning products are available and why we need them to keep our homes safe and germ free. With massive advertising budgets and fancy packaging the chemical based cleaning products often get their products into homes without consumers knowing the downsides of using these products.

There are many significant benefits of home-made cleaning products that people who don’t actively seek out the information might not be aware of.  They can help with making your home so much safer with very little effort.  Here are 10 benefits of home-made cleaning products and why I have converted to using these in my home and how they might be useful to you. Click here for nine of My favourite Home-Made Cleaning Recipes.

1. Great for skin allergy sufferers.

As a sufferer of dermatitis, I was forever dreading cleaning my home, knowing that soon enough I would have to deal with the reoccurring skin allergies. Even when wearing gloves whilst cleaning, I’d somehow manage to get the cleaning products on my skin and be paying the price for days. Most store bought cleaners are extremely harsh and should not come into contact with your skin, but this is easier said than done. After researching home made home-made cleaning products I was able to clean safely, without exposing my skin to harsh chemicals and limiting the effects on my health. To be extra cautious I use a sensitive skin dish washing liquid as other ones can severely affect your skin and dry it out. This benefit is the biggest reason I have made the switch to DIY Natural cleaners.

2. Save money.

Making your own cleaning products is a great way to save money on your cleaning bills. A handful of ingredients; bi-carb, vinegar, dish washing liquid and rubbing alcohol can be used to make a whole range of cleaning products for the whole home, with a little bit goes a long way. Even better they are things you probably already have at home on hand and are always affordable. No more having to wait for them to go on sale! Over the past couple of years since making the change to mostly home-made cleaners I couldn’t count the amount of savings we’ve had but can promise you it will go a long way to reducing your cleaning expense budget.

3. Safe to have around kids and pets.

Using natural products like vinegar and bi-carb soda are items that can be found in your pantry and are not going to harm your kids or animals if they are accidentally consumed. It may not be a pleasant experience but won’t be harmful as using a more toxic product like bleach. This will open up the possibility to having your kids help out around the home with age appropriate tasks knowing they are using safe products (not sure how helpful the animals will be ;)).

4. Minimise the number of products you have cluttering up your cupboards.

When you walk into the cleaning aisle it can be overwhelming trying to decide on what to buy from the endless cleaning product options. There seems to be a different product for each cleaning task. Home-made cleaners require a much smaller number of products and can be used to clean multiple things. Most of the ingredients can be mixed and matched to make cleaners for all of your home needs. Soon you won’t have to spend ages looking for a cleaner in your cleaning cabinet that is getting out  of hand.

5. Health benefits of reducing chemicals in your home.

Most cleaning products have warning labels on them such as use in well ventilated areas. The use of some more toxic products can lead to severe health issues such as Asthma. Reducing your exposure to these types of chemicals in your home is going to pay off for your health in the long run. The less we are exposed to these products the better.

6. Better cleaning success.

I have found in my experience that home made natural cleaning products work better than most other brand made products. I’ve been using them for about two years now and have not missed the store bought versions. When you can clean a grimy stove top with a couple of drops of dish washing liquid and water with ease, why would you pay for the pricey, toxic version?!

7. They won’t discolour your clothing or manchester. 

No matter how hard I try and clean without getting chemical products on my clothes, manchester or carpet there is always that one drop that manages to undo everything. This will be a thing of the past with home-made cleaning products. I’ve used store bought Mould Remover in the past and had to worry about it dripping off the roof and getting on my new quilt cover. After substituting this product for a home made version of water and tea-tree oil in a spray bottle, I realised it was just as effective and took away the concerns of having it ruin anything. Seeing as vinegar, bicarb and dishwashing liquid are used for washing your dishes or sink it’s not going to hurt to spill it anywhere. 😉

8. Avoid chemical air pollution.

If you are someone who is sensitive to harsh smells, store bought cleaners could be a little too strong for your scent tolerance. Products like bleach linger in the air for hours and can make you feel ill and light-headed. This can’t be healthy to breathe in long term and certainly isn’t pleasant. Making your own cleaning products means you can add your own essential oils and create a scent that you love, removing those lingering unpleasant, chemical ones from your home.

9. Better for the environment.

Non-toxic home-made cleaning products are much better for the environment. No more pouring toxic chemicals down your sink into the waterways or having your home environment exposed to harsh chemicals. Using home made cleaners can also help eliminate environmental waste. Your products will go a lot further meaning less replacing them and less waste. You will also require less trips to the stores which is another plus for the environment. Products such as anti-bacterial wipes can be replaced with a DIY all-purpose cleaner and microfibre cloth. These are just as effective at cleaning and washable, eliminating the waste disposable wipes create.

10. Peace of mind.

Making your own cleaning products means you know exactly what is in them. No more trying to read and research all those chemical ingredients you’ve possibly never heard of and wondering about what effects it can have on your families health. Most of all, you have control over what you do and don’t use and what chemicals you are bringing or not bringing into your home.

Do you prefer natural cleaning recipes or swear by the store bought versions? Please comment below with your favourite cleaning products and whether you prefer home-made cleaners or store-bought ones.

Cleaning

My Favourite Home-Made Cleaning Recipes

Jessica Skene

About a year ago I watched a documentary on Netflix called The Human Experiment which opened my eyes up to the dangers of having so many chemicals in our homes. I’d been dealing with the frustration of sensitive skin for years meaning I had to be careful of what my skin came in contact with, even dish soap and hand wash would make me break out in an extremely uncomfortable Dermatitis rash. I soon became very passionate about finding ways to keep my home clean, whilst looking after my health and skin and was on a mission to learn about natural home cleaners and testing them out.

After much research and trial and error I came a cross a few staple home-made cleaning recipes that I use regularly.

Here is a list of My Favourite Home-Made Cleaning Recipes. They work just as good in my experience as brand name chemical cleaners and are not only more affordable, but safer to use in your home. Please see my blog on 10 Benefits of Home-Made Cleaning Products for ten reasons why I recommend making the switch.

INGREDIENTS LISTS

These are the basic must have items for your home-made cleaner recipes:

  • White vinegar
  • Dishwashing Liquid (I use Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid Ultra Dry Skin Aloe for sensitive skin)
  • Bi-Carbonate Soda
  • Essential Oils (Tea-tree and Lavender oil preferably)
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Water
  • Spray bottles
  • Labels (use a label maker or stick on labels)

Don’t forget to label all your spray bottles as when you come back in a week you will probably have no idea what is in what bottle. It’s really worth it to save you  figuring out what is in what bottle and having to waste your cleaning products.

These are 9 of my favourite home-made cleaning recipes!

Home-made All Purpose Spray (Two versions)

I have two recipes that both work wonderfully. Sometimes if I am in a rush I will make the simpler version and if I have more time I will go with the second version.

All Purpose Spray (Simple Version)

Fill a spray bottle with warm water and add one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. That’s it! This should be gentle enough to use on most surfaces and is a cleaner I use for all around the home. I would use the Version 2 cleaner for more stubborn stains unless you have stone bench tops. Please check the care guide for your bench tops before using any cleaning products as vinegar can damage stone and other surfaces.

All Purpose Spray (Version 2)

In a spray bottle preferably over a sink (the bottle can overflow with the bi-carb soda and vinegar reacting) put the following

  • 4 Tbsp of white vinegar
  • 1/2 Tsp of dish washing liquid
  • 2 Tsp of bi-carb soda
  • Fill the rest of the spray bottle with warm water.

Spray the solution on your stained surfaces and let sit for about 20 seconds to help break up any hard to move stains. If you are using the bottle when the cleaner is back to room temperature, throw the bottle in the microwave for about 10 seconds and this will help remove harder to move stains. This solution is what I use for everyday All-Purpose Cleaner, just refill when you are out.

As mentioned above please check whether vinegar can be used on your bench tops as some stone benches can be damaged by vinegar.

Linen Spray

This is a spray to help keep your sheet smelling amazing between washes.

Fill a small plastic spray bottle (I use the ones in those travel container packs) with:

  • I cup of distilled water
  • 5-10 drops of essential oils
  • 2 Tbsp of rubbing alcohol

Use this to spray before sleep to spray your bed linens. Lavender essential oils can provide a calming scent but feel free to choose whatever scent you prefer.

Glass Cleaner

Fill a spray bottle with

  • ½ Water
  • ½ White Vinegar
  • Spray Bottle

Since starting to use this glass cleaner I have never looked back or thought to buy a regular store bought version. Just make up as described above in a matter of seconds and spray contents of glass cleaner on mirrors or windows and wipe over with a microfiber cloth. You’ll have beautiful, streak-free mirrors and windows in no time. Leave a bottle of this in your bathroom and a microfiber cloth to clean as you go.

Shower/Tile Cleaner

Fill a spray bottle with

  • ⅓ vinegar
  • ⅓ dishwashing liquid
  • ⅓ water

This is great for cleaning showers and tiles with a brush or sponge. Another option is to fill a refillable dish washing brush with a mixture of ½ vinegar and ½ dish washing soap to scrub all over the shower with. The vinegar smell will dissipate soon after and dish washing liquid will give you a nice scent over the harsh scents most chemical cleaners provide.

Daily Shower Spray (same ingredients as glass cleaner)

  • Spray bottle
  • ½ water
  • ½ vinegar

I leave a bottle of this in our shower to spray down the shower after each use (well, as often as I can remember to ;)). Spray down the tiles and shower glass and floor if it is the last shower of the morning or night (or last for a while). The vinegar helps to break down soap scum and fights the growth of mould so will make your weekly shower scrub a breeze! Remind your partner or room mates or whoever uses the shower to give it a quick spray over when they step out, it only takes 20 seconds and will save whoever is stuck cleaning it a lot of elbow grease!

As mould loves moisture, another tip from Clean My Space’s Melissa Maker to avoid your bathroom being taken over by it is to squeegee or wipe down the shower screens or tiles with a cloth after each shower. This is a bit more time consuming than the after shower spray but is a massive help if you can manage it.  

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

  • Spray bottle
  • Fill with vinegar
  • Add 10-15 drops of essential oils
  • Shake before each use

Combine vinegar and essential oils in a spray bottle. Spray vinegar mixture inside bowl and around toilet. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Sprinkle baking soda inside toilet bowl and scrub inside of bowl with a toilet brush. The Bi-carb soda gives a bit of abrasion to remove any hard to remove stains.

You can use the all over purpose cleaner (Version 1) or the above recipe spray to clean the outside and seat of the toilet. 

Disinfectant Spray (Non-scented)

  • Spray bottle (you can use one of the small travel spray bottles mentioned above)
  • ½ water
  • ½ rubbing alcohol

A great spray for disinfecting surface around the home such as bench tops, door handles or cupboard handles and for cleaning your toilet brush.

Disinfectant Spray (Scented)

  • 3 cups of water
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • Tea-tree or Lavender essential oils (10-15 drops or a blend of each)
  • Spray bottle

For those who love a nice smelling home this second disinfectant spray not only leaves your home free of germs, but with a lovely calming scent. Tea-tree and lavender essential oils can be used for their antibacterial properties or blended with other favourite scents you have.  

Do you have a favourite home-made cleaning recipe? Please comment below with anything that you love to use in your home.

Minimalism

101 Things to Declutter in Your Home Right Now!

It can be hard to know where to start when decluttering. There are so many rooms and areas you could begin with and it can seem overwhelming when starting out. When we are so focused on bringing new things into our home we can forget the importance of removing the items that are no longer useful to us and could be taking up valuable space in our home.

Do you open your kitchen utensil drawer only to become flustered trying to find the one thing you actually need? Have you accumulated twenty mugs in the cups cupboard and seem to forever have endless ones to wash? Is your linen closet overflowing so closing it is a struggle and you often end up shoving the clean stuff in closing the door and just think to yourself I will deal with this later? Downsizing our excess stuff can allow us to reduce stress in our lives and make some of our chores less bothersome. We are limited to the space we have in our homes so if your cupboards and shelves are overflowing with stuff if might be time to start clearing some of it out.

Here is a list of 101 things to declutter in your home right now that will give you a place to start your decluttering journey by area and hopefully a new leaf to a less cluttered, more simplified life.

Kitchen
1. Duplicate utensils.
2. Excess kitchen knives
3. Excess cleaning supplies. Use up what you have before buying any new ones.
4. Cutlery. Limit it to a reasonable number for your regular needs.
5. Plates. How many plates do you need? Limit to 2 per person per type as a guide.
6. Cups and mugs. Empty out that cupboard filled with overflowing cups piled on top of each other and only keep your favourites.
7. Bake-ware. Ask yourself how often do you bake and if you really need everything you have.
8. Single purpose appliances such as doughnut makers, popcorn makers etc. Keep only the items you use regularly.
9. Restaurant menus. These can all be located online put them into the recycling.
10. Excess vases.
11. Pots and Pans.
12. Tupperware with missing lids.
13. Expired medicine.
14. Unwanted cookbooks.

Fridge/Freezer 
15. Expired condiments in your fridge.
16. Uneaten leftovers.
17. Unwanted drinks.
18. Frozen meats with freezer burn.
19. Food that you don’t plan on eating due to change of diet etc.

Pantry
20. Expired food in your pantry.
21. Unwanted alcohol.
22. Expired spices or any you don’t use.
23. Any food you don’t plan on eating.

Bathroom
24. Shampoos and conditioners. Avoid buying seperate ones for each person unless necessary. Try and stick to the same brand so you don’t end up with multiple bottles going unused cluttering up your cupboard.
25. Old or unused Makeup. What makeup do you currently use, is there something you haven’t touched in the past year? Do you have ten different eye shadow pallets when a few would be enough? Make up has a limited shelf life and should be used up in 1-2 years for most products. See this link for details on expiration dates of makeup.
26. Beauty products. Limit beauty products to what you need and avoid buying more until you’ve used up what you have.
27. Lotions and leave in conditioners. If you don’t plan to use it give it to someone who will or bin it.
28. Decor. Remove excess decor from the bathroom and counter tops. The less you have the less you have to move when cleaning. Have a few nice decorative pieces and clear the rest.
29. Hair accessories keep only what your use regularly.
30. Old razors.

Manchester 
31. Towels, face washers and hand towels – Keep two towels per person for your home. Hang it up after use and wash the ones in the hamper regularly. Think of the time you’ll save on laundry when you only have 8 towels instead of 16?! These can be donated to animal shelters.
32. Quilt covers. How many quilt covers do you have? Assess what ones you still love and donate the rest. Ideally you need one to use and one spare for when the other one is in the wash.
33. Blankets. Limit blankets to two sets per bed.
34. Pillows. Keep the number of pillows required for your bed and bin the rest.
35. Bath mats. I’m certainly one that finds it hard to resist the allure of a new soft bath mat. Stick to 2-3 on rotation and donate the others to an animal shelter.
36. Spare curtains that are no longer in fashion or have been sitting in the linen closet for years.

Bedroom
37. Perfumes or fragrances you don’t like. Old unwanted perfumes or colognes can be binned or donated to friends or family. I’ve sold a few on eBay as well so that’s always an option to make some extra cash.
38. Bedroom decor you no longer love.
39. The stuff under your bed. It is a lot easier to clean your bedroom when there is nothing under the bed.
40. The bedroom TV. Do you really need that eyesore in your bedroom sanctuary?
41. Books on your night stand that you aren’t currently reading. Keep one or two on your bedside table and put the rest back on the bookshelf.
42. Anything that doesn’t belong in your bedroom (for us more often than not it’s guitars :p).

Wardrobe
43. Shoes that you don’t enjoy wearing.
44. Worn belts.
45. Ties that you no longer like.
46. Handbags that are no longer your style or worn.
47. Jewellery/Accessories that you no longer like or wear.
48. Clothing that you haven’t worn in the past 6-12 months. Use the backwards hanger method to establish what you do and don’t wear.
49. Socks that are missing a pair or have holes in them.
50. Underwear that is uncomfortable or has seen better days.
51. Old pyjamas that have had their time.

Laundry
52. Reduce your wardrobe. This will mean you reduce your washing by default and limit the laundry piles to manageable amounts.
53. Excess laundry baskets or hampers (once your laundry is reduced).
54. That random stuff that you find in pockets. Have a catch all container or box to collate items found in pockets. Empty this regularly.
55. Cleaning supplies you no longer need.
56. Laundry products you tried and didn’t use again.

Kids play rooms/bedrooms
57. Books. Donate unwanted books to schools, childcare centers or the library.
58. Unwanted Toys. Sell toys in good condition on eBay or donate to local charities.
59. Stuffed Animals.
60. Games or puzzles with missing pieces.
61. Kids art. To make room for new artworks to be displayed scan the image or take a photo of it and create into scrapbooks or store them digitally.
62. Old unwanted electronic games.
63. Dried out texters and pens.

Garage/Shed 
64. Old paint cans or other chemicals you no longer need.
65. Car oil or parts for cars you no longer have.
66. Cardboard boxes that have past their warranty period.
67. Any broken gardening tools that you haven’t got around to fixing.
68. Old tiles if you are renovating and no longer need them.
69. Scrap building supplies you won’t need.

Living Areas 
70. Excess decor cluttering up your living spaces.
71. Excess furniture that is being unused.
72. Extra lounges when they are mostly empty.
73. Artwork or photos you no longer love.
74. Excess or drab cushions.
75. Rugs that don’t go with your colour scheme.
76. Excessive photo frames. Keep a few on display but don’t go overboard.

Entertainment/Media 
77. CD’s you no longer listen to.
78. DVD’s you won’t watch again.
79. VHS’s.
80. Excess TVs.
81. Unused Gaming Consoles.
82. Games you haven’t played since finishing.
83. Old mobile phones and phone chargers. These can be dropped off at local library or Mobile Muster collection points. See this link for your local recycling options.
84. Old cameras.
85. Your DVD or VCR if you don’t use them.
86. Old laptops you no longer use.

Sentimental Items 
87. Old cards. Scan them and save them digitally.
88. Bad quality or blurry photos or people that you no longer want in your life.
89. Other photos taking up space in large bulky photo albums. Consider making your prints into a photo book or displaying them in a digital photo frame and backing them up digitally.
90. Sentimental items that you have no connection to. Take a photo of the item if that makes it easier to let go.
91. Jewellery you don’t love. Find someone in your family who will love it or get is melted down into something special.

Home Office/Paper
92. Books you no longer read or reference.
93. Magazines. Cut out what you need and put them in a folder and recycle the rest.
94. Old bank or credit card statements. These can all be accessed online.
95. Utility bills. Get these emailed to you and reduce some of the paper coming into your home each month.
96. Old receipts. Scan them as they come in on your phone and recycle them or keep them in one file.
97. Excess notebooks/pads. Keep a few or put them in areas where they will be useful like your handbag or car.
98. Stationery from your uni days that you no longer need.
99. Your printer (if you don’t use it).
100. Excess pens. Test what works and bin the rest or any you don’t like using.
101. Manuals for electrical goods.

What things have your decluttered in your home? Please leave a comment below!