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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Simplify Sundays (6/6): Stockpiling

Debby McCuiston, self-proclaimed "Queen of Clutter-Free", does a segment for us each Sunday on simplifying our lives, getting rid of "clutter", and focusing on what's important.  We're really loving this weekly segment - and hope you will too!  Take it away Debby...
I must say I am completely blown away at the pictures that some of you have sent in showing your stockpile of great bargains! I have a stockpile of goodies but it pales in comparison to some of your collections. I know how great it feels to look at what God has blessed you with and realize that your family will be taken care of because of your new approach to shopping. Everytime I go into the garage and look on the shelves I can almost hear the music playing and the angels singing "Hallelujah!" (I also hear it everytime I am in the appliance section and open one of those big stainless steel fancy refrigerators.)
It is wonderful that so many of you have taken the lessons that Kelly and Kasey have taught and have filled your "store houses."  But please do not store up stuff just for the fact that you can.  If you collect just for the sake of collecting, it won't be long before it becomes "CLUTTER". When items become clutter they are no longer useful to you, your family or others. There is no reason to spend the time clipping coupons, hunting for the best bargains and then spending your time shopping just to let things sit, collect dust and get in the way. If this is just the latest in a long line of projects that soon will get set aside once the newness wears off, you need to re-evaluate why you are doing this. If you have jumped on the couponing band wagon, good for you. If you have joined because it seems the latest thing all your friends are doing, good for you. But if these are the only reasons you have become a couponer, it will only be a few months before you get bored once again and move on to something else. So before that happens let's make sure you take a look at why you need to continue to coupon and what is the best way to handle all the stuff you keep bringing into your home.
Many of you have gotten started in couponing out of a need to make ends meet. You saw it as a way to get what your family needs and still be able to have a little money left in your pocket. It is unbelievable the amount of money that can be saved by taking the time to clip and organize your coupons. I have had many opportunities to share with people about the amount of money I have saved and they always are amazed. I tell them if I count the time it takes to clip, organize and shop, I could pay myself at least $50 an hour with the amount I save.  I get to share with them that the reason I coupon is to provide for my family and to be able to bless others out of our abundance. I know most of you have had the same experience. Being able to bless others with a random box of goodies is the best part for the giver and the receiver. Keep in mind while you are shopping that just because you may not need it, if it is just costing you pennies or may be free, it is a great item to donate!!!
Now that you have re-evaluated why you coupon and have made the pledge to stick with it to not only bless your family but to also bless others, what do we do with all the STUFF? This is the most important item you must decide before you get too far into the couponing world.
There are a few things to take into consideration about the items you will be storing. First, consider what is the climate of the area that you want to store items in? I use an old baker's rack that we have had for at least 100 yrs, in the unfinished garage to hold the basic household items such as toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning products, razors, shaving cream, and canned items. Inside I keep the perishable items. I have cleaned out a closet in my sewing room and have donated 12 bags of material to make room for my bargains. In this closet I keep cake mixes, noodles, crackers, cookies, anything that bugs may get into or the weather could effect. I know people that have outfitted their garage with top of the line shelving and some that are storing things wherever they can find any extra space (under the bed, in the kitchen, in a closet or under the stairs.) Your situation is different from anyone else's, so do what you can and what works for you.
It doesn't matter what kind of shelving you use as long as it is clean and stable. Keeping your area clean, neat, organized and free of critters is the most important thing. Start with what you have and add or replace it as you find a great bargain. I found some very nice painted metal, heavy duty, wire shelving on clearance at our local Lowe's, yep, I bought all they had on sale. (I love a good sale).
The most important part is how to organize the items on your shelves. If you aren't into all the organizing stuff, I  bet there are times when you can't find something you need, and you wish you had taken the time to organize those shelves.  I would start by putting like items together...such as all paper products together, all cleaning products, baby items together, you get the idea. Now don't just stick them on a shelf.  Put the same items in a row, front to back. If you have items that are dated put the date that is the earlier to expire up front then the latest date in the back.  Make sure you check the dates regularly. Donate at least once a month. If you have your items organized and in order you know what you have to replace or what needs to be moved out or used up. Do not become one of those shoppers that have 600 boxes of Jell-o. Unless you do Jell-o sculptures there is no way in God's green earth that you should need or want that many boxes. GIVE IT AWAY!!  Only keep what you can use in a 4 or 5 month span. Keep in mind that if you have some over stocked items there are lots of great families, shelters or churches that could use a box or 2 of goodies.
I hope you enjoy the "hunt" of coupon shopping. It has been an amazing journey, to go from shopping and hoping you have enough food to last or worrying if you have enough money to pay for what you bought, to shopping and knowing you will have more than enough food and money left over. God will honor your efforts!! Being a good steward of what He has given us, honors His blessings on us. I am surprised that out of a need to make ends meet, God has begun many ministries that constantly give back to others. What a blessing!!!! We want to be used to bless others, but many times we are looking at the big ways--Bible teachers, preachers, or any other staff at the church. Yes, they have an impact on large groups of people. But I believe that the day to day, one family at a time, is the blessings that will last and make a difference in people's lives. Don't look at what you can't do--find a way that you can bless others in the small stuff that happens in their life everyday. Shop, enjoy and bless can't get any better than that.  Keep sending in those pictures-- ladies, you are making a difference in this world!
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