As I have reviewed our finances over the past few weeks, I've started to see all the ways we lose money by being wasteful. I've really started to look at all the odds-and-ends in the pantry, all the random frozen "this's" and "thats" in the freezer, all the half-used jars and bottles, all the things we throw away before they are really "used" up.
I realized that I always have done this. Ever since I was able to buy things on my own, and probably before that, I would open new bottles of shampoo before the old was done, or move on to the new cereal when there was a bit (too much to throw away but too little to interest me) left in the box already there.
There's probably a few things going on:
Patience is a virtue AND a sign of maturity. Kids can't wait, they want the next thing NOW. Me, too.
A Need to Feel Safe:
A desire to feel like I have enough. And not just that, MORE than enough. Growing up, I had a middle class family and I understood that we had to manage our money. I remember sitting up with my mom (who was the money manager of our household: and a really good one at that!) as she paid bills and did the filing. I knew she worked because she had to, and I remember that my dad worked like crazy. I always remember thinking that when I grew up, I didn't necessarily want to be rich, but I always wanted to feel like I had enough money to pay my bills. I suspect that having all this "extra" stuff around fulfills that need in some way. As long as there is always more of everything, that's a sign everything's okay.
Okay, fine. So, immaturity and needing to feel safe. I am a smart adult now. I manage the finances for my husband and I. I know we have enough for the bills. I know we have extra money in case of an emergency. I don't need to act like there's not enough. There IS. As far as the immaturity goes, I am a little annoyed with myself for it. One of the things I say again and again is that we are all responsible for our own feelings. Especially when we become adults. The things of childhood must be put away. For me, the way of thinking I've described above is a thing of childhood. I have to let it go. The time is now.
The last week has been really good for me as I have assessed the ways I am wasteful (and as I gear up for the envelope budget system beginning September 1--check for the link at the end of this post). I am seeing so many ways that I can save and that I can make the dollars we have alloted for the various categories really last. I bet I wouldn't have to shop for at least 2 weeks for groceries if we just lived on what we had in our pantry and freezer. Maybe longer.
Some of the ways I'm going to structure my life to eliminate waste:
- I have tons of staples (lentils, rice, spices) that I am not using effectively and don't think of when I consider "what to make." I'm going to pull those forward and work on using them for at least 3 recipes a week.
- I have many bags and boxes of frozen fruits and vegetables that I will work in to recipes.
- I have bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, soap in various places. These can be organized so that I can see all of what I have at one time. I am going to pull all of the half-used items forward so that we can use those first. This way, we'll know what we have and what we don't. We often realize that we're out of hand soap and have to run out to buy it.
- I have signed up for a grocery delivery system called Farm Fresh Delivery. It's pretty awesome in that all the produce is locally-grown and all the staples are organic/fair-trade. I feel very good about that, too. I realized that one of my major sources of creating waste is my grocery trips. I go and pick up random items I'm not sure what to do with and they usually end up being wasted. I figure this way, my grocery trips will be greatly reduced and there will be less stuff to waste.
I'm getting excited for this new challenge of using what I have and giving up the thinking of childhood. I am also excited to be able to manage the items I already have, and to move through them in order to save space and money.
Here are the other Finance Friday posts:
- Much Ado About Money
- Understanding the Compulsion to Buy
- Consciousness of Poverty vs. Consciousness of Abundance
- Budgeting and the Envelope System
What are you doing to eliminate waste? How have you changed your spending habits or how you use the things to have? Help me learn, I need it.