Organize your Clothes Shopping Trips to Make the Most of your Budget

Tuesday, 2 October 2012 | comments

Some of us love it, some of us hate it.  Regardless, clothes shopping can be an expensive venture, and without proper planning and the careful consideration of certain factors, it can well turn into an exercise in futility, resulting in wasted time and money.  To make your clothing budget stretch as far as possible, consider a few of these points before making your shopping list.
Probably the most important thing to consider when purchasing your wardrobe is to find pieces that work for you.  A warehouse job does not dictate a three-piece suit, just as an office job does not dictate work boots or gloves.  Since you spend 1/3 of your day at work and sometimes more, it's important to have practical items in your closet that work for your job.
Make sure you try things on and buy the size that is right for you. You might be required to go down a size for some clothing lines, and up for others.  Pay attention to the way it looks and the way it fits, not what the sizing tag says.  Proper fitting clothes help you look better, and feel better as a result.  They'll also last longer if there are no stressed seams or are the correct length.
Build your wardrobe around basic elements.  Suits and separates can form the foundation of a great working wardrobe. Single and double-breasted long-sleeved blazers with matching skirts for women or pants for men or women are essential basics. Avoid using trendy clothes as building blocks for your wardrobe foundation, because one they become dated, it will cause the rest of your wardrobe to crumble as a result. Purchase basic building pieces in two or three colors that best complement your color and personal style to build your wardrobe.  You'll then be able to mix and match pieces to create various looks quite simply and affordably.
After you've obtained the basics in the colors and fit that's best for you, work on sorting your closet to make your morning routine simple and quick. Organize and categorize your clothing for easy selection and wearing. Hang jackets by sleeve length, color and garment length, or place near coordinating items to make finding a workable outfit easy.

Setting up a Home Office on a Shoestring Budget

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Working from home is becoming a more popular option with many in today's workforce.  Whether you telecommute or have abandoned the rat race in favor of setting up your own home business,  or just simply need a place to land to take care of the bill paying and the home organization chores, a home office has become a necessary space in many homes. Whether you set up a corner office in your kitchen, designate a guest room to double as your office, or set up a location in your basement, it's crucial that your home office include all the elements that contribute to your productivity, efficiency and overall success.
But setting up a home office doesn't have to break your bank account. Very few of us can afford the luxury of having a professional organizer devise an office system for us. Don't despair; there are many creative ways to devise your space .
Maybe you are able to have a separate room for your office.  If so, that's great.  You'll have lots of elbow room.  But if you don't, there's lots of ways to utilize the space you can carve out for one.  Whatever space you choose, make sure it's a space that can be dedicated to your office, and doesn't double as an arts and crafts table for your kids or a workbench for your spouse's do-it-yourself projects on the weekends.
Take a look at your space and see what you can do easily and inexpensively to spruce it up and make it conducive to working from home.  Sometimes just a fresh coat of paint, some strategically hung pictures or some simple stencil work can brighten up an otherwise dreary corner.
Next, look around your house to see what furnishings you already have.  If there's a small unused table that could double as a desk, use it.  You've probably got a comfortable chair in your dining room that could work fine as an office chair.  Look around your home for some useable pieces that can be brought together successfully to create a comfortable and relaxing home office environment.
You may also already have book shelves, bins, baskets, boxes and a filing cabinet that could also be incorporated into your office.  If you don't already have office supplies available, visit your favorite office supply or discount store and stock up on a few needed items and get your space organized and ready to roll.

Organize your Closet on a Tight Budget

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You don't have to spend a fortune on fancy closet organizing systems to organize your own closet, but it does require taking an honest look at your belongings and your habits.  With some creativity and some planning, you can create a closet that's organized and easy to maintain.

First of all, it's imperative that you take a look at what's currently in your closet before you can begin to organize it.  If there is clothes that haven't been worn in six months or more, worn out shoes, outdated handbags and accessories that you no longer use, get rid of them.  They are only taking up your valuable space.  You'll be pleasantly surprised just how much space you can free up by purging beforehand, and it also means less to contend with during the organization process.

Next, take a look at what you're left with.  Try to organize your clothes based on what groups together well as outfits.  Try to group like colors together, and organize shoes and accessories into casual, sport, professional and formal/dressy categories.

Now that you know what you're left with, it's time to place it back into your closet in a neat and organized fashion.  Look around your home for unused baskets and bins.  Consider installing a couple of extra shelves if the need warrants.  Affordable shelving units and brackets can be found in more home organization sections of your favorite hardware or discount store.

You can also make great use of your space simply by using lengths of chain to hang items on in your closet.  You can purchase plastic or metal chain in different lengths depending on your needs. Links should be large enough to accommodate your style of hanger - whether metal or plastic. Hardware or do-it yourself stores will cut the chain the length that you request. Attach the chain to your closet rod with a hook; these can also be found at the hardware or do-it-yourself store.  Or you can simply loop the chain over the hook of a sturdy coat hanger.  Hang clothing items, one hanger per link.  This simple, inexpensive method can help you store several items in the space of just one.

With a little discipline, some creativity, and a free afternoon, your closet will soon be organized, easy to use, and simple to maintain.

To Keep or not to Keep, that is the Question

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There are many great reasons for having a yard sale.  Some people have yard sales before they move so they don't have to pack and ship belongings they aren't using.  Sometimes they are updating the look of their home and sell their old belongings to make money and room for the new ones. Sometimes your children just grow like weeds and rapidly outgrow both their clothes and their toys. It could also simply be the desire to purge all those items you've held onto for so long, thinking you'd find a use for them but never did. No matter what your reason, having a yard sale is a relatively easy goal to achieve and requires just a few hours of preparation and a few more hours actually selling your wares.  You'll reap both financial and emotional rewards from it.

Decide on a date for your yard sale, then get to work surveying the items you have.  When you're going through your house deciding what to sell, you'll have to be brutally honest with yourself.  If you haven't used it, don't like it, don't see yourself using it or don't know of anyone personally who could benefit from it, then it's a yard sale item.  Sort through every dresser and kitchen drawer, every clothes and linen closet, every cupboard and toy box you have in your house.  Don't forget your basement, attic, pantry, entertainment center, buffet and outdoor tool shed as well. If an item belongs to a family member, don't make the decision for them. Get their input before placing an item in your yard sale box.  Regardless of the time it takes to sort through all your items, make the commitment to stick with it and remind yourself on a continual basis the monetary profit and emotional relief you'll feel once your clutter has been cleared from your home.

Once the sale is over, make another commitment to yourself not to bring the unsold items back into your home.  Make arrangements with your local rescue mission or charity thrift store to donate the items.  Most will be happy to make arrangements to pick up large donations as well as provide you with a tax receipt reflecting your generous donation.

Once it's all said and done, you'll have some extra pocket change, and can breathe an emotional sigh of relief that the clutter that's been weighing you down for so long has been purged from your home.  Renew your commitment to remain organized and to combat the clutter demon on a continual basis.

Turn your Junk Drawer into your Neat Drawer

Thursday, 27 September 2012 | comments

We're probably all guilty of having at least one junk drawer somewhere in our house.  This is the drawer that started out as a helpful drawer that kept all the handy items in one place like tape, tacks, buttons, safety pins, and so forth in one central location, but turned into the drawer where other things manage to accumulate when people don't know where they go or don't feel like taking the time to put them away properly.  Get this drawer (or drawers) back into useful mode again by using a few simple steps to bring things back under control.
First of all, in order to clean it out, you've got to empty it out.  Remove everything.  Place a piece of paper or tea towel down to protect your countertop or table surface, and literally dump the drawer on top if possible. Otherwise make sure all items are placed on this protected surface.
Once it's out of the drawer, it needs to be sorted.  Group all similar items together, and if you can't determine what something is or if it's needed after consulting with others in your family, get rid of it.  If there are things in this drawer belong in another location, be sure they are put away promptly.  Clean the drawer completely and wipe dry.  Afterwards, lay a fresh drawer liner or contact paper inside.
The next trick is devising a simple, workable organized system that everyone in the family can use.  Ice cube trays, egg cartons, small boxes or even 35-mm film containers work well to store small things in.  If you cannot see into it to determine its contents, make sure it's clearly labeled.  Small plastic sandwich bags are ideal for organizing and storing rubber bands, thread, and string.  If you store glues or other adhesives in this drawer, make sure they have lids that are secured.  It might also be a good idea to get into the habit of storing them inside a plastic storage bag in order to avoid a mess down the road should the lid become unsecured in the shuffle or is not properly tightened after use.
Most importantly, encourage your family to keep the drawer organized and neat. If it's properly maintained, there should be no need to shuffle through the drawer looking for things, creating an even bigger mess to clean out yet again in a few months.

Think Green when you Clean

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We all want to do our part in ensuring our environment stays as safe and healthy as possible for our children and future generations to come.  Many people don't stop to think how their household cleaners can affect the environment, and how toxic they can make the immediate environment of your home.  With some careful forethought, planning and effort, your home can be cleaned safely and effectively, sparing the environment, your home, family and pets from toxic chemicals and fumes.

Most people firmly believe that surfaces in their homes must be disinfected on a continual basis to prevent illness and the spread of disease.  But the truth is most areas of your home don't need to be disinfected to prevent the spread of germs.  This includes your bathroom. Mild detergents, hot water, and some elbow grease can generally do the trick.

The exception to this rule is the kitchen.  Anything involved in food preparation should be completely scrubbed down and disinfected with each use.  This includes food preparation surfaces, utensils, cleaning clothes, and sponges.

When shopping for cleaning products, pay special attention to those with the words poison or danger on the label. These words indicate the highest level of hazard, under federal law. Products labeled with the words caution or warning can present a moderate hazard and should be regarded with care.  Always read labels and follow the directions.
Never mix cleaning products, such as those containing chlorine with those containing ammonia.

Consider using products such as vinegar, baking soda, and mild detergent when cleaning your home.  If you have questions about how to properly dispose of toxic household cleaning chemicals, contact your local health department or county sanitation office for advice and assistance. Most areas provide a household hazardous waste collection site for residents to properly dispose of such items.

5 Quick Gardening Tips to Save You Money

Thursday, 13 September 2012 | comments

It’s easy to spend a fortune every year creating a beautiful yard. These five tips can help save you money in both this, and future gardening seasons.

1. Plan your vegetable garden according to what your neighbors are planting so you can share your vegetables when they’re ready for eating. Often I’ve had too many of one kind of vegetable I couldn’t give away because my friend’s were ripe at the same time.

2. Select perennials rather than annuals for your flowerbeds. As they multiply each year, cut them back and exchange with your friends so you both have lovely gardens and save money at the same time.

3. Compost your kitchen scraps, as well as your coffee grounds.  The end result is much better than any potting soil you can ever get buy from a nursery or hardware store. The price is right, and this is definitely recycling!

4. Instead of using mulch, try pebbles or small rocks in your garden as ground cover.  This will save you lots of cash since you won’t need to buy mulch in the spring and fall of every year.

5. Spend more money now by purchasing better quality gardening tools and you will save in the long run.  They will last for years, saving you dollars because you don’t need to replace them every planting season.  Same goes for gardening gloves- make sure you buy the best you can afford so they last all season.

Happy Gardening!

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