Buckling down in 2020. This will be the year!

I am determined. 2020 will be the year that I make major progress toward getting my finances and my clutter in order!

I’m already off to a strong start, having put most of my extra money since Christmas toward paying down debts. This week I finished paying off a our dentist and eye doctor!

Phase 1: Getting rid of the extras

I was raised to keep a few weeks of extra food and other items on hand in case illness or bad weather ever left us stuck in the house. But over the years, my reserve grew from a nice safety net into wasteful clutter. Using up our “emergency stash” will:

  • Cut back on food waste. Several items are nearing or past their expiration date.
  • Cut back on clutter so we have room to really clean and re-organize.
  • Cut back on the cost of groceries, freeing up more money to pay down debt.
  • Decrease stress levels because ALL OF THE ABOVE are good thigns!

Phase 2: Organization

Once we have an almost clean slate in the food department, I want to rebuild the reserve in my closet. I will pack three boxes according to how often the contents need to be swapped out. I know a lot of this stuff lasts longer than I am giving it credit for, but if I buy a new bag of flour every 3 months I might as well keep the fresh bag in my closet.

Box 1 – Change once a year: pasta, pasta sauce, oatmeal, canned vegetables, canned soup

Box 2 – Change twice a year: bacon bits, canned meat, dried fruit, spices, instant potatoes

Box 3 – Change every three months: cereal, flour, sugar, crackers, granola bars, pet food

This organization will:

  • Cut back on clutter in the kitchen
  • Help me remember when to replace what items
  • Make it easy for my family to know which groceries are free-for-all and which I am trying to hold on to
  • The above will let me include more of the foods we normally eat in the emergency stash!

Phase 3: A simpler life

Phase 3 starts with re-focussing on the simple things and the important things. Seriously looking at where our money is going and where it should go.

One important part of this will be a major grocery overhall! I spend way too much money on food. And every week I am disappointed by how much we throw away. 

I used to be really good at this. I knew my basic shopping list. I had like 10-15 different meal ideas using just those ingredients. I would look at the sales paper to see if I wanted to make any substitutuions, do my shopping, and we would eat what I got. It was cheap. It was somewhat healthy. And although the food was good, there wasn’t as much temptation to over-eat when I knew I could make the same thing again next week.

I never “officially” stopped doing this. But life happens. Things go out of stock or you accidentally picked up something that has spoiled. You try something new and it becomes part of the normal rotation. Unfortunately, our new normal is more expensive, less healthy, and harder to mix & match once you run out of an ingredient. This grocery overhall should cut our grocery bill and get us back on track with some healthy habits.

Phase 4: Living my new life!

I look forward to seeing how long it takes me to turn these changes into a positive new lifestyle. I’ll put updates below as i go.

February 2020 Update: Phase 1 Getting Started

I am starting Phase 1 in February 2020 because, by this time of year, the chances of severe weather are pretty slim. I did pack a box with pasta, spaghetti sauce, and the cans of sardines that came with our house just in case.

I hope to cut our grocery bill in half for the next month or so while we use up everything else.

March 2020 Update: Phase 1 was an OOPS!

Phase 1 of my plan got off to an excellent start! We were about 3/4 of the way through using up our extra supplies when I started hearing rumors about a highly contagious virus and something called “panic buying.” … Yeah, I really picked a good year to implement this plan! lol

We were lucky enough to get my daughter’s braces removed the day before they shut down dentist offices, so that’s good. Her retainer doesn’t fit, but she was so ready to get those things off.

My mom and aunt more than re-stocked us on groceries. It feels like 3 steps forward, 4 steps back in decluttering my home. But I do appreciate their help. I guess it’s time to put this plan on hold for a while.

November 2020 Update: What now

It is November 2020 and I am still trying to make Phase 2 a reality. I got close in July, but life happens and I had to put this project on hold. I was glad to get as far as I did!

This morning was spent going through two of the boxes I packed in July and trading out anything that will expire before March 2021. (Thanks mom for helping us restock on a few items!) Tonight I will pack my three boxes, according to shelf-life, and put them under a table. They will be out of the way but easy to find while organizing my closet.

Now that our “emergency” reserve is rebuilt and organized, I want to go back to trying to use up what is in our kitchen. This should allow me to cut our grocery bill in half for a while. With the current uncertain state of the world, I need to do some serious looking at my budget to decide the best balance between paying off debts and saving for the unexpected.

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