4 insights on stockpiling toiletries from The Year of Less

 

 

I read a book called The Year of Less by Cait Flanders in August 2018. I’ve just gone to read all my highlights on Goodreads (19 of them!) and now I think I need to re-read the book 😉

But that’s not what I came here to tell you about today.

When I originally read the book, I remember one piece very vividly, the section on stockpiling toiletries.

It completely changed how I think about things now.

Many people (I daresay, 98% of you reading this post) buy extra toiletries when they’re on sale. The sales captivate us all – 3 for the price of 2, the summer/ winter sale, and so on.

In the book, she asks us to consider how long specific items take to use up and how long you really need to keep spares.

Stockpiling is not great for at least 4 reasons:

1. it wastes money

if your money is held up in “stock”, it is not available as cash (remember Accounting in high school?). I prefer to have the cash rather than bottles of shampoo, conditioner or similar. Yes, I’m aware that the prices of things have increased (especially in South Africa due to loadshedding) but I would still rather have cash in the bank than two extra speedsticks in my bathroom vanity.

2. it is clutter 

This one is fairly obvious. Stuff you have and that you need to store because you’re not using is called clutter.

3. waste of product 

if you buy 3 products, they might go old before you can actually use them (this has happened to me once with speedstick deodorants)

4. most of the world lives about 5 minutes from a store

and now… there’s online delivery too. If you run out, I promise you it will be a 5-minute detour to get what you need and for most of us, you will know beforehand that you’re going to run out in a few days.

A personal example

I use Olay day moisturising liquid (with SPF!). One bottle lasts 6 months. Given that there are often sales, it used to be tempting to buy extra but I am no longer tempted. Why? I can tell that I’ll run out within a week or two both because of the weight of the bottle and the fact that I write the date on the bottle with a permanent marker when I start using a new bottle.

But also, it just makes no sense to buy 18 months’ worth of product on a buy 3 for the price of 2 sale. What if they change the formula or make a pretty new bottle or (I don’t think this will happen but…) I want to try something new but I’m stuck using the old stuff for 18 long months.

Upholders love self-imposed rules

  • I will  keep one spare speedstick deodorant in summer because the consequences are immediate if I run out (!)
  • I do buy the 3 for 2 shampoos because 1 bottle of the brand I use lasts me just under 2 months
  • Keeping a travel toiletry bag stocked is not stockpiling because it actually saves me so much time when I travel for work or pleasure. I’m on holiday now and I will have to replenish some items (on my list!) once I get back home.

In the 17 years of writing this blog, I have still not managed to convince people to stop stockpiling toilet paper. I personally don’t get this obsession as in my house, I “budget” on about 5 days per toilet roll per bathroom, so I know how long we can go before stocking up.

My goal is not to change your mind but I do want you to consciously know that:

  • that is actual money in your cupboards
  • money you can never recoup
  • and you’re probably going to take years to go through your backstock 🙂
  • also, you don’t need to take hotel toiletries with you (I only take bottles that I deem perfect in function or form, or if the fragrances are particularly compelling)

Tell me, where are you on the stockpiling spectrum? 

I didn’t want to go there but I will say that a certain very popular Netflix show and Instagram account has made it very appealing to have lots of backstock in clear perspex containers. Why?

Our bathroom renovation – what we would change and what we wouldn’t

A little bit of background:

  • In 2020 Dion and I were planning to go to the US for a holiday to celebrate a big anniversary. We all know what happened and there were no big travel holidays.
  • 2021 didn’t look much better both from a comfort to travel point of view and so I had the bright idea – instead of those savings languishing (!) in our savings account, waiting for better days, why don’t we spend it on something we can enjoy daily, like a new bathroom?
  • This was one of my more inspired ideas as that is exactly what we did. Another inspired idea was to have them do the main demo work while we were on (local) holidays and therefore not bothered by noise and dust (win-win). We did have a full week of people in the house once we returned.

What we would change:

Maybe next time (if there is a next time) we’ll stay away for two weeks because it was challenging for me to work and live in a house with a ton of people also working. On Teams: “hi client, please just ignore the drilling, there’s a bathroom renovation happening”.

I go back and forth on this, and we can still change it – the force of the shower is just pleasant, not super strong. That is a water-saving mechanism and is fine for most of the year but I will admit that in winter, I do sometimes think I need a bigger force shower with lots of hot water blazing down on me.

What we did change

We added more hooks and towel rails and moved the position of the rails within that first week. Compare the top picture to this one.

What we would not change:

  • Everything structural – I love having a big shower and no bath
  • I love our double basins
  • I love that we kept our wall for toilet privacy
  • I love our long wall of cupboards that hide our laundry baskets, cleaning materials and toiletries!

Here are some more pictures:

 

Have you ever had a renovation while you lived in the space?

Did it make you crazy or how did you handle it?

15-minute Fridays – put some cleaner in your toilet brush crock

Who remembers Flylady from way back in the day before Instagram cleaning influencers became a thing?

(by the way, Flylady is on Instagram!)

I personally love Flylady because her advice is so practical and doable. Anyway, I read one of her books last year and she mentioned something I loved so I thought I’d share it here.

As part of the Swish and Swipe (Flylady encourages us all to do a quick clean of our toilets daily so they don’t get gross – this is not a deep clean of your bathroom), to make things quicker and easier:

  1. Put some toilet cleaner in the toilet brush crock so that when you plunge the brush in and then do your swish and swipe, there’s already cleaner to clean your toilet bowl. Is that not genius?
  2. You can also use your leftover shampoo at the bottom of the bottle for this purpose if you add a tiny bit of water, shake it up and pour it all into the toilet brush crock.
  3. Once a month, I do water and a capful of Zoflora to disinfect and make it all smell nice.

How often do you clean your toilet bowl?

Would these tips work for you?

 

15-minute Easter weekend organising challenge – spruce up your workspace

I love seasons which is why I love a good quarterly rhythm.

I did a spruce up of my at-home workspace last weekend but you can do it this weekend seeing as there is a lot of extra time.

                                 DREAM method of organising any space

Here is my DREAM method of organising your workspace:

D – decide on your vision for the space. Are you back at office more? Do you need to take more things back to work? (I took my work calculator back this week; it might come back home as I find I do deep work at home)

R – remove everything from your desk and clean. I use Zoflora and a microfibre cloth so that it cleans and smells nice. This is the best part.

E – eliminate the clutter. Toss papers, throw away dry pens, remove things you no longer need, etc. This is the second best part. I keep my old work notebook on my desk for about a week or two of overflow, but then it goes in my cupboard.

A – arrange in a way that pleases you. Do you like a photo frame or plant on your desk? Do you always find yourself looking for something (highlighter, scrap paper, etc.)? Add it.

M – maintain. This is part of maintaining. I do a light version weekly, and a more decent version monthly when I do my goals review.

For my quarterly spruce-up, I changed my laptop bag to another one (I have several). This happened to coincide with a new work notebook so it all felt very fresh for me this week.

I then also changed my pencil bag to a smaller one – let’s see if that works for the whole quarter. I already feel, one week in, that I need to change the notebook at the end of this short month (the paper is just not doing it for me).

Did you take up the challenge? Gold star to you!

15-minute Fridays: organise your receipts

Ooh, hot topic alert here.

I don’t know why but whenever I talk about tossing your receipts, I get a lot of pushback.

Let’s think about why we keep receipts.

  1. I keep receipts until I can enter the expense on my spreadsheet. Yes, I can check my bank account and see I spent R354 at Clicks but I also want to know that R222 of that was my prescription and the rest was nail polish and chocolate (two different line items on my budget).
  2. I also keep receipts until I (or my family member) has fitted on the item of clothing. Once it fits and I/ they have worn it, I toss the receipt (if it’s been recorded on the spreadsheet). If not, I place the receipt together with the item in my errand bag to return.

In the picture above, I have worn the shoes but the bag strap is the wrong shade of green for the bag I wanted it for, so it will be returned. The bag strap plus the receipt is in my errand bag; hopefully I will return tomorrow.

For now, let’s clear receipts. You can toss these immediately:

  • anything older than a year (some retailers also only accept returns within three months – by the way, I have returned items outside of the date; politely smile and ask for a gift card instead of a refund)
  • any food retailer receipts
  • shoes and clothes you have worn

If there is something you need to return, grab a tote and add the item and your receipt, and put it next to your handbag or in your command centre.

How did you do? Is your wallet nice and clear? Are all the piles of receipts around your home in the bin?

15-minute Fridays: clean out your car

I really like a nice, clean car. I don’t care that it isn’t fancy but I do like things in their place.

I have some rules for myself which have stood me in good stead all these years, like:

  1. no eating in the car, except for non-messy fruits like apples and water
  2. when I do eat an apple, the core must leave the car when I do so that there are no lingering fruit smells

Now and again, though, I need to just sort out things that have landed and not left, so here is my version of the cleaning out the car.

All these pics are before pics but my car mostly does look like this. The boot is more cluttered than it usually is due to gym wear I leave in there because of the in-between season and some extra two-minute noodles I bought for the kids.


For all of us though, here are some guidelines:

  • throw away all trash – food, fruit cores/ peels, empty bottles, tissues, etc.
  • return kids’ items (caps, lunch boxes, bottles, socks, etc.) to the house
  • return things to where they need to go – if you have a water bottle from when you left it in the car, take it into your house, fill it with water so it’s ready for gym
  • pack your recycling bags back in the boot (trunk) of your car
  • you might need to do some vacuuming/ shake out the mats in the car

If you need the extra time, make this into two 15-minute tidying sessions.

What did you find in your car that surprised you?

15-minute Fridays: clean out your handbag

This is meant to be a quick but satisfying organising task.

I open my handbag and tip it all out on the bed.

  • I then go through each of my “mini” bags – make-up bag, wallet and “odds and ends” bag.
  • I replenish anything (e.g. Panado, tissues, hand cream, lip balm, etc.) and return items like my extra ponytail holder to their place (the “odds and ends” bag).
  • I toss receipts (I toss the credit card slip unless I need to keep it for an expense claim, and keep the actual receipt of what I spent).
  • I remove nail polish if I’ve changed colours. I return a lipstick to my bathroom if I only needed it with me for an evening update.

I do switch out my handbag often (weekly or even more frequently) so I’ll probably then repack the few things into a new colour bag for the week.

Tell me about all the fun things you found in your handbag.

15-minute Fridays: organising your to-do list

I want to try sharing really short, quick tips here. The idea is that they will be quick and easy inspiration for your weekend.

I typically break up my weekend to-do list into errands (out and about), house stuff and relax.

Under the house section, I have things that are always on there (laundry, menu plan, etc.) and then I add one or two quick things – like declutter my nail polish or tidy the storeroom. In my head, these things are about 15 minutes (if they’re not, don’t tell my brain because that’s how I trick myself to actually go do them)

For this weekend, grab a notebook or your phone’s notes app and walk around your house. That’s it.

Walk into each of the rooms and note what needs sorting out. As an example…

Bedroom – declutter sock drawer, tidy nail polish, clean gym shoes, declutter t-shirts.

When you’re done with your list, you’re done.

But…. if you do feel motivated, please pick the one thing that will feel most satisfying to have done, and do it.

3 things that are working for me these days

(and by these days I mean January!)

This list could change next month but this is what’s working for me at the moment. I’m fully back at work – this month we’re in the office two out of five days a week, the kids have both had their first week at high school (and were exhausted!), we are adjusting to them having phones and we are dealing with constant (stage 4 – 6) loadshedding.

1. Getting inspiration for meals by actually walking around the supermarket
I go through periods of severe non-inspiration where I cannot even think what I’d like to eat, let alone cook. I am also someone who needs lots of variety in their meals. Add to that the fact that I don’t do the food shopping and Dion online shops all the time.  

I read a book last year, Creative You, which talks about creativity and your MBTI type. I get creative energy as an ESTJ by experiencing the world around me by touching, seeing, smelling, etc. I need to remember this and schedule food shopping dates maybe once a month. I’ve been hot (we have had weather in the 30s C) and with loadshedding, I just have felt so uninspired. The book is excellent for many other reasons and I highly recommend it!

Yesterday though we went for a quick vegetable shop and just strolling around the supermarket (in the blessed aircon!) for 20 minutes inspired me so. I returned home and made a menu plan. It felt so easy!


2. Having a weekly 30-minute power hour to update my lists
I used to schedule a weekly planning session and somehow that has fallen by the way sometime during the last two or so years.

But I’m bringing it back (I might do 23 minutes just to be whimsical). This block of time is to update any books I’ve read in my book bullet journal, update my diary, check on my goals, and update my line-a-day journal.

I find Sunday afternoons work best for this, just before the supper/ getting ready for the week rush, because after supper, I want to peacefully read.

3. Accountability for exercise
I’d got out of the habit of going to my Wednesday evening Zumba class around September/ October. I didn’t enjoy the class as much as I used to and then I was too busy to look for another one.

Well, there’s one thing loadshedding’s good for – my gym opened up memberships to all clubs even if your membership is only at a specific location.

When I found out, I contacted my old Zumba instructor, checked logistics, and told her I’d be in her class on Wednesday evening, and I was.

It was so good and afterwards, I told her that I’d be there every Wednesday as long as this loadshedding lasts.

What’s working for you these days?

How I did on my 2022 goals

As I do every year, I set some goals for 2022. I used Gretchen’s printable, My 22 for 22 List.

Some items were once-off (apply for high schools), some were project-based (read 100 books) and some were continual (Project Life monthly).

I really like having a mix of different types of goals so that they all don’t feel insurmountable at the same time.

So how did I do?

I got 13 done completely, 3 not done at all, and 7 partially done. With about a month since I last looked at the list, I think I was maybe too hard on myself with those 7 partially done because if I were coaching someone else, I’d consider some of them done because one of those partially done goals was at 95%, one at 62% and one at 50%. Oh well – honesty!

Still, not bad in a year that was really not the best at all.

One of the items I’m particularly happy about is getting my will done! It took 5 months of thinking, drafting, redrafting, conversations (so many conversations!), and then we finally had a final copy for signature which was done in December. Yay!

I want to talk separately about my “success” with reading because I really feel like I’ve set up good rhythms and routines that I can rely comfortably on. With almost no effort, I can get through 8 books a month. I mention it here because the one consistent thing many people talk to me about is that they want to read more, and… I can definitely help you with that.

How did you do with your 2022 goals? Can you even remember what you put on your list?

PS Gretchen’s 23 for 2023 list is here

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