How being organised saves money

This is a guest post by reader Jennifer Kerr.

My motivation for being organised has come from a need to save money and live on a tight budget, but also to use my time as wisely and effectively as possible, given I’m a new mum to a five-month-old daughter. I am not an expert. I haven’t written a book. I don’t have my own website, and my house and cupboards, while tidy and organised, certainly wouldn’t impress anyone. I love the thought of opening my pantry and seeing neat stacks of labeled Glad containers with every raw ingredient I need to bake up a storm, but frankly I don’t have the money, time or energy! But I do keep our household running on a budget and as close to clockwork as a new baby will allow.

Being organised saves money

The area we all have the most control over is food spending. By spending more time in the planning process, I save lots of time down the track (and a little money too).

I start by choosing between 10 and 12 meals for the coming fortnight (I choose 10 or 12 instead of 14 because some nights all we feel like is spaghetti on toast, and ‘leftover night’ is a great way to use up what you have left. It really is amazing what you can make for dinner by using just the odds and ends you already have on hand).

Choose meals that fit into your budget, so be as mince-and-potatoes focused as you need, or fill up your menu with all things special if that’s what you can afford. And regardless of your budget, it’s also a good tip to use what you already have as an idea for a meal (eg you have half a bag of spaghetti in your pantry, so plan to use that in one of your meals on that menu).
Regardless of your motivation to get organised or improve your organisational skills, a few little steps can make the world of difference to how your household runs.I then go through my menu, one meal at a time, and go through our fridge, pantry and freezer and put on the shopping list only the things we need to make that meal. By going through each meal’s ingredient list and cross-checking it with what I already have, it saves time and money by avoiding the mid-cooking dash to the shops to get forgotten items! And if you have a bank that charges a fee per transaction, the fewer times you need to swipe, the better off you’ll be!

After I have my menu and shopping list, I roughly order the meals – from the meals that use the most fresh ingredients (like stir-fries with lots of vegetables, or salads), down to meals that have longer-life ingredients (spaghetti Bolognese, baked potatoes etc). This saves time in the afternoon when I’m trying to decide what to make for dinner, and it saves money by reducing the amount of food that gets thrown away before it has a chance to be eaten.

Also, if you have a list of meals to chose from, and you know you have everything you need to make them, you’re less likely to hit the emergency take-away button, saving you money. However, sometimes a girl just needs a night off and a great bowl of laksa from the local Thai restaurant is a God-send, but schedule this into your menu plan to help avoid too many impulse phone orders!

Being organised saves time

Cooking meals

The two biggest pieces of advice I received while I was pregnant came from one of my two sisters and my mother, and these little pearls of wisdom have been invaluable to me these last five months.

It’s never too early to start dinner – Raise your hand if you too let out a groan or a sigh come 5pm and you haven’t settled on what’s for dinner, you haven’t defrosted anything, and the thought of chopping up a crisper-full of vegetables makes your heart sink? Yep, me too.

While my daughter is sleeping (love nap-time for getting things done!), even if it’s her morning sleep, I will make a start on dinner. This might be getting the meat out of the deep freezer, defrosting it, chopping it/marinating it/preparing it and putting it back in the fridge until I’m ready to cook. I might use the next nap time to chop up a few vegetables or make a salad. It is a great feeling come 6pm when all I need to do to make dinner is throw it all together. It takes the stress out of the night time routine.

Laundry

Do a load of washing every day, even if it’s a small load I admit that I’m one of those strange creatures who actually enjoys washing. But it’s not much fun for anyone to see laundry hampers overflowing, nor is it fun running out of shirts/undies/socks etc.

Regardless of your motivation to get organised or improve your organisational skills, a few little steps can make the world of difference to how your household runs.

Doing a little bit every day, or every second day if you have a small family, saves you from those mammoth days where the line is full and you’ve run out of pegs… and please don’t let it rain! If I am awake enough and remember, I like to put a load of washing on at night before I go to bed, so it’s ready to hang out in the morning during one of those blessed nap times! Hanging it out in the morning also helps guarantee that it’s going to be dry in the afternoon before the dew falls. And hey, even if it all hits the fan during the day and you don’t get a chance to bring it in, you can bring it in with the next load the following day.

I also make my own laundry liquid to help save money. It is quick and easy to make, and a great one for kids to help with.

Laundry Liquid

  • 1L water 1 bar of soap, grated – or – 1 cup of Lux soap flakes
  • 1/2 cup washing soda (in the laundry isle of bigger supermarkets)
  • 1/2 cup of Borax (in the laundry isle of bigger supermarkets)
  • A few drops of your favourite essential oil for fragrance (lavender or rose is nice)

In a saucepan, combine the water and soap and stir over a medium heat until the soap is completely dissolved. Add the washing soda and Borax and stir until thickened.

Pour the mixture into a 10 litre bucket and fill with enough hot water from the tap to make 10 litres (I use a nappy bucket with a lid). Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil and stir really well. Leave it somewhere overnight to cool. When completely cool, it will look and feel like set jelly. Get your hands in and squish it around to make it more liquid again – this is the part kids love! Use 1/4 cup per load, or keep an old laundry powder scoop and use that. This is suitable for front and top loaders.

Regardless of your motivation to get organised or improve your organisational skills, a few little steps can make the world of difference to how your household runs. You don’t have to have an Ikea home full of specialised sorting boxes and you certainly don’t need to change everything all at once, which can make the task seem overwhelming, but anything is achievable. A few little changes at a time. Just identify the areas where you know you could do better, and start there. And who knows? You might save some money along the way and have enough for a pair of gorgeous new shoes!

What is your best money saving tip?


About Guest

Jennifer Kerr is married with a five-month-old daughter.  She works as a newspaper page
designer in Brisbane and is currently on maternity leave.


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8 comments

Fiona Trapani August 21, 2011 - 1:45 AM

These tips are great. I am a big fan of ‘a little bit, often’ to get through those dreaded chores. I am a big fan of meal planning too, and deep freezing, it does cut out the 5’o’clock panic. Thanks for the tips for the laundry soap too, I know many people who are looking for such a recipe.

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Mtomsey77 August 21, 2011 - 3:30 AM

These are great common sense tips. I must admit I am pretty good with the organising of food too. I only work on a week budget (mainly because I don’t have that much room in the pantry, & alot of the fresh veg, etc would not keep for the fortnight). But I will sit down one night of the week & go through the recipe books & make a plan for the week, & as you have said I will only make a shopping list of those ingredients I don’t have. We are a family of 5 so organisation is essential, especially now that 2 are in school & with all the extra curricular activities after school. Preparing myself during the day, saves time after school for running around & homework.

You are so right, it saves so much time & money. Alot of people don’t understand how we survive on 1 wage. But shopping at Aldi for the majority of the shop, & of course sticking to budget meals helps. We still go to the grocer for fresh fruit & veg, but we have to cut out alot of Deli items that are not necessary and too expensive.
I suppose one part I do fail at is the washing. I have usually been able to do it all on one day, but now with an extra child the amount of washing has some how doubled. I have lately been following The Organised Housewives tasks of one load a day, and it has made such a difference. I feel more motivated to wash, hang & fold one load a day rather than 6 loads in one day.

Thanks for the tip of the Laundry Liquid I will try this which will also save on money for the more important things like shoes & handbags.

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julie mcdonald August 21, 2011 - 10:24 PM

Jennifer, it sounds like you are a well oiled machine… most days! We all try to be and with a small baby it is even harder – things can go pear-shapes pretty quick! So much good advice here, especially the meal preparation during the day and a load of washing a day. I do that because otherwise those baskets just overflow and someone is yelling for that T-shirt they wore 4 days ago!
I am more organised for having found The Organised Housewife – sometimes we just need a prod to do that bit extra around the home. That reminds me, I need to wipe out my washing machine again!

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Kia August 22, 2011 - 7:51 AM

Thanks for your guest post Jenny and congrats on your new addition…some great tips you have there, we are a family of six, 2 adults and 4 kiddlywinks aged 3 – 10 yrs. Washing is so true I wash everyday atleast 2 loads…i think our washing breeds??? LOL but I am terrible at putting it away. I have now made it Mondays is my put it into piles and put it away day and I have just started to get the kids to do their own putting away which has been very helpful and I have finally let go of the guilt associated with asking them 🙂 I am really enjoying the tips and tricks on this website/blog it helps me kepp on the straight and narrow and lets me know I am not the only housewife in the world hee hee…

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Eva August 23, 2011 - 1:34 AM

I love the idea of the homemade washing liquid, but is it only suitable for top loaders? Thanks for the tips

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Jenkerr Designer August 23, 2011 - 8:49 AM

Thank you all for your positive comments! Eva, yes the recipe is suitable for front and top loaders, and once you buy all the ingredients, it breaks down to be about half a cent a wash! Can’t beat that value!

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Rachel June 20, 2013 - 11:29 AM

H Jennifer, this was a good read. I too plan my meals a week in advance but I think I might up it to two weeks – this will help as I live out of town. I do like the idea of using all the fresh ingredients first too.
I also wash every day. Small machine and short clothesline. But it is great to just be able to do a little bit everyday and then I seem to find more time for the bigger cleaning jobs.

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Karen McGuire September 27, 2016 - 5:02 PM

Hi great idea for the making of your own laundry liquid. Can I ask do you have a “designated saucepan” you used to cook it in or is it safe just to use any saucepan we have in the cupboard that we normally cook food in?

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