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?

 

{Goals} Quarterly review – Jan to March 23

And here we are, at the end of the first quarter of the year.

Three months over – just like that!

A summary of just a few high – and lowlights over the last quarter:

  1. I applied for my passport and received it.
  2. I read 31 books, 8 of them 5* reads, which is a great start to my reading year.
  3. I have watched a lot of TV (one of my #23in2023) – finished Dead to me, On the Verge and am now knee-deep in The Bold Type. And of course, I’m also watching Daisy Jones and The Six.
  4. We finally had our solar installation and it has been life-changing. I don’t have to think about loadshedding when I want to go out or concern myself with my laptop holding charge until the power comes on again.
  5. Despite being on iron supplements over the last 3 months, my iron levels have not improved to a degree where I can stop them. I think I thought that 3 months would sort out my iron deficiency but apparently not.
  6. I’ve had a consistent 3 workouts a week since January – two Zumba classes and a Spanish class. We have had a new Spanish teacher this year and it’s been so invigorating for my dancing.
  7. A friend of mine was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer. Everything else pales next to that, doesn’t it? She is a fighter and she’s fighting as much as she is able.

Life is like this, isn’t it? Highs and lows.

Tend is being a good word for me this year – a reminder to take care of my health, family, friends and work.

How was the first quarter of 2023 for you?

How is your word working out?

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?

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

How I did on my Project Upgrade for 2022

Unlike #rest22in2022, Project Upgrade was a huge success.

I just read the first paragraph of my post where I told you about it and it is literally the opposite of what rest was for me… and maybe that’s why it worked so well.

If you’ve hung around here for awhile, you know I love a project. I don’t know what it is but I think it’s that I like something with clearly-defined rules, and a very clear start and end date.

Remember it all started with a hotel facecloth from a hotel… and morphed into a big list of 22 items. As is always the case with these kinds of lists, some things were not as important but other things had to be added onto the list that I couldn’t have anticipated.

Things that didn’t get done

  • we were just about ready to sort out the pool and then our city announced water restrictions so we couldn’t go ahead
  • I still don’t have the big pot I mentioned in that original post (I still want one and welcome your ideas)
  • I have started to simplify our luggage (kids are sorted) but mine could use an upgrade 😉
  • I don’t need a standing desk anymore as we’re in the office so much but I did buy two laptop raisers – one for work and one for home

Good things done that were not on the original list

  • got 4 new tyres
  • got some plumbing sorted out (much, much bigger job that spanned two months)
  • we had to replace a section of our boundary wall
  • I replaced two phone screens
  • I bought a lovely, new laptop bag and handbag (and mouse pad) with some of my bonus
  • I bought new glasses (not covered by medical aid!)
  • I loved the upholstery so much I went wild and did two more chairs and an additional couch

All in all, I still did more than 22 things so this was a big, big success for me.

You’ll not be surprised that I’ve already made a smaller Project Upgrade list for 2023. One of the big items is getting solar panels installed which will solve so many problems in this land of loadshedding and power outages.

Feedback to follow at the end of the quarter 🙂

Do you need to make a Project Upgrade list for 2023? Or maybe a few items on your 23 goals in 2023 should be matters of upgrade?

Project Upgrade – It all started with a facecloth (more about my latest project)

If you’ve hung around here for awhile, you know I love a project. I don’t know what it is but I think it’s that I like something with clearly-defined rules, and a very clear start and end date.

Aside from my annual goals (which I’ll review end of March as I checked at the beginning of the month, and nothing could be crossed off yet ;)), #rest22in2022, I am also doing what I call Project Upgrade this year.

Really, it’s Project Upgrade, Fix or Declutter. Let me explain.

I’m an under buyer with most things in life so I will use things until they’re completely done. I do declutter regularly as I am very partial to the one in, one out rule, but I very rarely upgrade things just because. And I’ve been thinking that I need to do that; I don’t have to be the only one to use up things.

It all started with a facecloth. I went to Cape Town on the 30 November last year and forgot my facecloth at home. The hotel provided me with the softest facecloth ever that is now my “travel facecloth”. After I’d used this facecloth for 3 days, my current one suddenly felt too rough and I started pondering.

If this exists in one area of my life, where else is it happening?

So I made a quick list and decided to adopt it as my house/ personal project for the year.

Declutter

These are for things need to go but I’m still hanging onto them. Why? (gym pants and gym t-shirts)

Fix

Some things really just need a quick google, a couple of phone calls and arranging a date for the service provider to come and do their magic. E.g. the pool cover that needs replacing, there are some chairs that I’ve wanted reupholstered, and so on. They’re all “fine” but “fine” is not delightful and they can all stand to delight me again.

Upgrade

I batch-cook almost every week but I only have one very big pot, one saucepan the same diameter and a medium pot. I’ve wanted another big pot for months. Why don’t I just go buy it?! I think because it feels like there are so many options and everything comes in sets and I don’t want a set. If you can recommend a good big pot, go ahead – I’m listening!

My plan is to tackle 2 – 3 of these little projects every month, seasonally where possible (pool and windows in autumn once the rains stop).

So far so good. January’s three projects were done successfully and this month, we’ve had an electrician out to sort out the plug points in the lounge, I’ve decluttered and bought nice new kitchen cloths and after visiting 2 – 3 shops, I finally found new gym shoes yesterday.

Of course, I fully expect to have to move things around and delete some because this house is 45 years old and things constantly need fixing or upgrading. But I definitely want to sort out all my personal upgrades.

What do you think? Would a project upgrade, fix or declutter work for you or your home?

The one time I’ll tell you to actually buy more

Let me tell you a quick story.

I have a slight irritation on a daily basis when I go down to the kitchen to make a mug of tea between meetings, make my sandwich for lunch or go cook supper.

I arrive in the kitchen, realise my phone could use a quick charge and both chargers are upstairs, one next to my bed and one on my desk.

I have a charger that lives in my car. My mother-in-law bought me a (seemingly boring) gift about 3 years ago – a USB car charger for my iphone – and it has been one of the best gifts ever. Tip – if you use an iphone, always make sure that the charger is iphone-certified so that after an update, it still works (I’ve made this mistake before and had to donate the then-useless chargers to android phone users)

Two weeks ago I had a thought – why don’t I just buy another charger and keep it downstairs?

I admit that my initial thought was – am I not being lazy by not running up and down the stairs to get one of the other chargers? Maybe… but laziness is not my biggest concern in life right now. I have the other problem – relaxing enough.

So I bought not one, but two additional chargers. As you see from the picture above, the desk charger is on its last legs.

While I’m a big proponent of considering your purchases and spending mindfully on the things that spark joy, I also think if the “spending out” will add to your happiness and decrease unnecessary stress, just buy the thing.

I remember someone (was it DesignMom?) saying once that she went out and bought six additional hairbrushes for her four daughters to use.

Which items do you (maybe) need to buy one or two more of?

{Mindset} Establish your personal policies, or decide once

A few months ago on the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast (episode 296 – 21 October 2020), one of the topics was about establishing a personal policy. I loved this podcast episode because it was a reminder to me that

  • I have personal policies
  • I’m happier when I heed them
  • We all have some things we do that make sense to us

It reminded me of the Lazy Genius, Kendra Adachi’s book, The Lazy Genius Way, which I read and loved last year.

One of her principles is to Decide Once.

Decide once is setting a personal policy.

In Lazy Genius language, I decided once that I don’t attend baby showers so it’s an easy decision when I receive an invite to politely decline the invite.

About a month ago, Kendra put up a post inviting people to post how they decide once. The 1744 comments are GOLD. A couple that I love are:

one lady does all phone calls on Thursday mornings only. Genius – you don’t have to have phone dread because you know you’ll take care of things on Thursdays.

another lady changes her contact lenses every time she gets her monthlies so she doesn’t have to remember.

some people have the same gift they give to teachers or for new baby gifts.

The reason I like personal policies is because I love boundaries.

I like people boundaries and I like things boundaries.

Some people boundaries:

  • I don’t attend baby showers. I buy a gift but I hate all the ladies playing silly games (at least that’s how it goes around here).
  • During Covid, I will only meet up with people outside. All book clubs are outside or on Zoom, and when people have come over, we’re outside too.
  • My kids can only have playdates on Friday afternoons. It’s a set time for them so they don’t have to ask continually “can X come over?” They know Friday is the day and arrange their schedules accordingly.

Some things boundaries:

  • If something doesn’t fit in the space, it’s time to declutter until the things fit comfortably again.
  • I decided once what I wanted to save every month, set up an automatic payment and I don’t have to think about it again. When my salary increases, I increase the payment a bit, but that’s the extent of my thinking about money.
  • I have a standard bring-along to a meal if we are invited over to friends. I say, “I’ll bring a chicken” and I bring a rotisserie chicken from a nearby bakery. I also get them to cut it up for me so it’s easy to just arrange on a platter.

Over to you:

Can you name some of your personal policies?

If you honestly don’t have any, where could you incorporate a couple to make your life run more smoothly?

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