A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece about how to best organize a pantry. One of the tips in that article was to make sure that you can see everything that you have so that you always know what’s on hand and when it expires. This makes it easy to plan and prepare meals, as well as reduce food waste. When everything is obvious and easy to hand, eating at home is a lot easier and more appealing. This tip works in other areas of your life, as well.
In a lot of ways, I’m blessed to live in a house with few closets. While I know few people would agree with me, at least at first, I’ve found it to be an advantage. First, without a lot of storage space I’m far less tempted to buy a bunch of stuff I don’t need. I have nowhere to put it. Lack of storage has forced me to be selective about my possessions and this has saved me money.
More importantly, what we do have is always out in plain view. This comes in handy when it comes to the entertainment category of our budget. Instead of having our books, board games, movies, and video games, hidden in closets and cabinets, much of it is out in the open. Again, I’m sure some people will see this as a less than ideal situation. However, when we’re bored and looking for something to do, all of our choices are staring us in the face. We’re able to quickly see what we have to choose from and it makes it very easy to plan a day or night of fun.
People with a lot of storage don’t necessarily have it this easy. When they’re bored, it’s a huge effort to excavate the fun stuff from the closets or out from under the bed. Everything isn’t out and visible so sometimes they don’t even know what they have. As a result, it’s often easier to choose to go out for fun. When you can’t find what you want, or you don’t even know what you have, there’s a much greater temptation to either go out to the movies or to someplace like Dave and Busters, or to just go to the store and buy something new to play with.
This is true of both adults and kids. How many times have you heard, “I’m bored” from your kids, yet you know they have a roomful of stuff to play with? Maybe part of the problem is that the kids either don’t really know what they have, or they have to go through too much trouble to get to the thing they really want to play with. “I’m bored” can really mean, “I can’t find the toy I’m looking for.”
I’ve come to believe that visibility is a major key to stopping unplanned spending. It works in the pantry, it works for entertainment, and it can also work for your clothes. Don’t just pile stuff in drawers and bury it in the closet. Keep things out where you can see them. That way, you know that you already have two pairs of red shoes, or pants that will match that top. When you know what you have and can see it easily, you don’t get frustrated and go out and buy something new.
To improve this tip, keep your unplayed, unread, unwatched, and unworn items in front of everything else. This way, the newer stuff doesn’t slip to the back and get forgotten. When the new stuff is always in front, you also get the feeling of having something different to watch, play, or wear. That alone can stave off a trip to the store to look for something new. When you get the itch for something new, just take a look at what you already have that’s unused. Pull that out, instead.
I don’t live with a total lack of organization, despite my lack of closet space. I do have bookshelves and racks on which to put things. Stuff isn’t just piled in the floor. But not having a lot of storage has been a benefit to us in a lot of ways. It keeps our clutter down and it means that we always know what we have and where it is. This saves us a lot of money, time, and frustration. House Hunters may be all about the closet space, but there’s something to be said for keeping everything in view.
(Photo courtesy of quinn.anya)