Using containers to limit yourself

talley_sue_nycApril 2, 2014

On the "moving to a smaller home" thread, grainlady wrote this:

I use decorative storage boxes to limit things in the closet (purses, hats/visors, etc.). I also use the one in, one out rule.

This is so brilliant. I love that she's using decorative containers to do this; I may have to try it as well.

I know that I've often found myself setting limits for things like twist ties (only two small sheets).

I've also used other containers to limit stuff:
-clothespins, no more than will fit in one drawer of the small plastic chest
-boxes for presents, no more than will fit in one bathrobe-size gift box

Then again, it can lure you into keeping things you shouldn't.
I kept all the tempera paints bcs they all fit in the box I had designated. But we seldom use them, they got dried out--when I ditched them (or switched them to a much smaller container), I freed up some space!

Tell your "using a container to set a limit" story!

This post was edited by talley_sue_nyc on Wed, Apr 2, 14 at 16:17

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I got started using the container method when I had bars of bath soap in several locations in the house and wasn't sure how many I had/needed and how often they got rotated. Now they are in a 12"x12" cube container in the hall closet and one or two spare bars in each bathroom. I don't buy bath bars until at least 25% are gone, and then I'll replace only when I find a fantastic bargain because I know there is plenty in back-stock. When you replace the bar in the shower with the spare found in the drawer in the bathroom, you replace the spare.

Other containers (there are 4 styles of containers and baskets) on shelves in the hall closet:
-toothpaste, new toothbrushes, floss and picks
-hair-care products
-travel/guest size products
-supplements, cold remedies
-skin-care and other bath products (lotion, Epsom salts, sunscreen, etc.)
-shaving (shave cream, razors, replacement blades)
-liquid soap for foam pump dispensers
-candles, candle holders and candle snuffer, scented wax cubes
-basket of odds and ends
-emergency kit, bandages, ointments

It helps with rotation of these products. Remove from the front right, restock in the back left. I also use a Sharpie and mark any use-by or best-by dates on the items to make sure they get used in a timely manner, or a new one gets placed in the by-date order. It also keeps the clutter these extra products cause, out of the bathrooms.

There are other "containers" or shelves and shelving units in the basement storage area. One shelf unit is TP and boxes of tissue. I have one whole room that is for home food and emergency water storage (I follow a plan similar to what the LDS Church teaches), and it's really important to have it well-organized. I keep a running inventory of the individual food items in my Price Book, and inventory sheets of the #10 cans in the kitchen office. Food in the basement rotates to the pantry in the kitchen.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 5:05AM
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Why buy that much and not use it. I don't buy stuff to store it. I buy a package 4 or 6 bar soap . I did buy several $1. toothbrushes to have on hand, it encourages me to toss them when they get worn out and I have extras if company comes and they forget theirs. I don't need it organized if I only buy it as I need it. They are in their appropriate places, usually no extras. I don't like boxes sitting around it makes it so much harder to clean and it encourages bugs.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 11:02PM
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There is NOTHING from anything I posted to suggest it's not used, and I don't know why you would say such an ignorant thing except you truly don't understand, or to be insulting.

Not that I should need to defend myself, but our home is perfectly clean and exceptionally well-organized - by my own hand, I might add. No boxes sitting around. No bugs. And as my friend likes to say, a speck of dust would die of loneliness in our home. The storage room in the basement is clean, well-lighted, is a textbook example how to maintain storage, and items are rotated in and out on a regular bases. There is no waste.

I follow the teachings put forth by the LDS Church which includes being prepared and being self-sufficient for natural or man-made emergencies such as loss of income, natural disasters, interrupted food supplies, and power outages. That includes enough food and essentials for a year. If you want to read a compelling reason to practice what the LDS Church teaches, read the story at the link below.

I purchase items at rock-bottom prices, many things are free, and I rarely pay retail for anything. I can certainly afford to pay retail, we are not without means, but a fool and his money are soon parted, and I learned the parable of the Ant and the Grasshopper at a young age.

Because I buy ahead, I rarely run out of anything. No mad dash to the store when a winter storm is forecast because we already have what we will need. I can wait until the price is "right" to purchase almost anything. Those foods and goods are actually a very good investment, and here's how, as explained by an economist.

"If you invest $1 in a money market account, at currant interest rates, at the end of the year you may have a total of less than 2-cents, possibly less after taxes. But if you buy a $1 item and get another one free on a two-for-one sale, then that is like getting 100-cents worth of goods for free, nontaxable." Therefore, I can actually make a much greater return on our money by stocking-up, and stocking-up at the right price, than we can by deferring the purchase and investing the money instead.

And for your information - all our wealth isn't tied up in our home storage, we have many other investments as well - just so you don't have to come up with a snarky retort on that subject as well.

How about this - you maintain your home your way, and I'lI follow my principles with a clear conscience. It's neither right nor wrong. It's a CHOICE.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Prudent Homemaker

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 1:55PM
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Grain lady why did my post upset you so much, I was just giving my opinion, I didn't say your way was wrong. When I open the last bar of soap I buy more the next time I go to the store, the same with everything else. I have been going though my home for the last few years trying to simplify my life. It makes my home easier to clean and my home looks so much larger and spacious. It is what I like.

I do have a bit of a problem getting rid of jackets and purses. I took the purses to my sister because she has 4 daughters and thought they might like them. I still can't get rid of my jackets.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 9:03AM
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Grainlady, I think you misunderstood what Emma was saying. We all have different ways of managing/organizing our homes. Your way works for you; that's great. Emma has a different way; that's also fine.

Me? I limit myself by the amount of storage I have and by my goal of not having that storage look cluttered. I do buy supplies when I see them for a good price, but I only buy what I *know* we will use up. We live in the country, about 20 miles from the nearest decent grocery store, so it makes economic sense to buy extras of whatever we use.

Storage boxes wouldn't work for me because I am basically lazy - I wouldn't want the extra steps involved in reaching into the box, etc to obtain what I needed! There would also be some initial cost of buying (or making?) the boxes. Nope. Not my cup of tea! We have enough shelves (open in our utility room, closed in our kitchen) that storage boxes wouldn't do a darned thing. But if that works for you, that's nice.

This post was edited by gladys1924 on Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 16:26

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 2:12PM
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I apologize, I did not mean that the way you took it. I meant why buy so much that you can't use it in a short time. The point of it is why buy so much you have to make room for it, to organize it. I am sure you use it or you wouldn't buy it.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 7:25PM
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Why buy extra? It's often cheaper that way. I take advantage of buy 2, get 1 free deals - things like that. When I see something that I use and it's an excellent price, I buy extras of it. I save money that way, and having a well stocked house means I make fewer "special" trips to our small town grocery. If you have room for extras - and many of us do - why not buy extras if you see them at a good price? As far as organizing - if you have a method that works for you, organizing your extra food/cleaning supplies, should take little time.

It's just the two of us (dh and me), by the way. Last year we lived in an apartment while we built this house. We didn't have much storage room, and we lived in our small town (near the grocery), so I didn't buy in bulk. I bought enough for each week. Drove me nuts!

I should add - I think some people buy extra supplies because that is what their church teaches. Many people don't do it for that reason, but more because it can make sense economically and practically!

This post was edited by gladys1924 on Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 20:15

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 7:44PM
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Twice I have experienced a STARK example of using container size as limits - in basic military training upon taking a job in remote bush Alaska. Since it absolutely works in the extreme I see no reason why it would not work in moderation in more ''normal'' circumstances.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 2:28PM
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If I had space, I can totally see having your "container" be larger.

I don't have space.

And I use the container to limit myself on the sorts of things that are really easy to end up with too many of.

I'm not likely to end up with "too many" bars of soap or rolls of toilet paper. I'll probably stop buying once I hit whatever limit occurs naturally. And they'll get used eventually, so I probably wouldn't define them as "too much."

But stuff like:
-twist ties
-gift boxes

With those, having some limit to what I accumulate keeps me from unthinkingly cramming more in.

I swear to God, if I had a house w/ a nice size of garage, I'd have a storage wall filled will stuff like T.P. and paper towels for a year, etc. Just because I hate running out.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 12:38PM
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I read that link--that was really interesting!

However, that food-storage thing would have limited value for me.
It's primarily wheat based.

Rice, I can eat--but my DH isn't supposed to have starches.

Eating meat and vegetables is our healthiest choice. But it doesn't store that well. And you can buy it canned (or can it yourself), but it's not as economical as the simple starches. Or, having a really powerful freezer.

And of course, where I live, I don't have that sort of space. Nor do I have time.

However, if I were the at-home mom, w/ a yard, I can totally see doing this sort of thing.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 12:49PM
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I live in North Dakota and "enjoy" all the perks of North Dakota winters.

During good, clear weather, it is a 35-minute drive to the AFB commissary where I do the bulk of my shopping. It is a 45-minute drive to "town." That's 45-minutes one-way. Add anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours for bad weather. Add in the fact I have restrictive health issues and I try to limit my town trips to twice a month and you'll understand why I stock up, and manage, my inventory.

I am blessed with a basement. I have three five-shelf metal storage shelves. The shelves are 48x18 inches. They are each assigned storage tasks.

I have always wanted "extras" to squirrel away, rotate, use, and not run-out. I had a friend that would buy one roll of TP at a time, one-roll. Always running out. Not fun. She had room the bathroom to store at least 12 rolls, conveniently and out of sight, but she insisted on one roll at a time?

The cabinet under my upstairs bath sink can hold twelve rolls of paper stacked four tall along the right side. This still leaves room for a Rubbermaid plastic dish pan that holds the normal cleaning supplies - Comet, Windex, Mr. Clean, Sudsy Ammonia, Listerine, rubbing alcohol, green scrubbies, and peroxide. Behind the dishpan, and along the back wall of the cabinet, I can fit three rolls of paper towels.

Each sink in the house has the same set up, sans paper towels, and extras are on the dedicated "Cleaning Shelf" in the basement.

The top shelf of the same cabinet holds four 12-packs of TP with room for my boxed pressure canner next to them. When two packs are used I pull the back ones forward and purchase two more packs for the back of the shelf.

I start building up my stocks in September. I want enough of the basics that if the weather, or my health, does not cooperate, we can eat healthily for about three months. We might run out of fresh milk and eggs, but we can still eat well. I stock up on flour, rice, sugar, canned milk, dry milk (DH makes bannock bread with dry milk; it is delish!) dry beans, dry noodly items, canned fish, dish and laundry soap, health and 'beauty' essentials, paper goods, etc.

During late fall/winter we keep at least five 40-lbs of dog food for the Beastie Boys, along with six 50-lb bags of sunflower seed for the bird feeders. I stock up on suet, dog treats, etc. Again, I like to have about 3-4 months worth before hard winter hits.

I mark expiration dates, rotate items, and don't spend a lot of time on it.

We have an upright freezer; DH hunts and fishes; it's full of venison, turkey, grouse, pheasant, duck, wall-eye, salmon, and some beef and chicken. I feel so blessed. On good years we share venison with two neighbors. I have my freezer section filled with veggies bought on sale plus the ones I freeze from my garden. Every thing is marked, dated, rotated, and used.

I have learned to can! A neighbor blessed me with a huge box/crate of apples from her tree. I made enough dehydrated apples, and canned apple juice, to last from last Sept. through this month. I made apple jelly, mostly for gifts, from another neighbor's crabapple tree. DH made choke cherry jam and syrup from wild choke cherries.

I freeze tomatoes for sauces and cooking; I can sliced green tomatoes for frying. I am down to my last quart of them so they will be served with Easter dinner. I've made a note to can at least 18 quarts next season.

I froze 12 quarts of Kale last year; I'm going to try canning more this year.

I am a little prideful that we have used all my winter stash with no spoilage. Now the shelves are looking a bit empty; they are ready to be washed and aired. Once the garden starts producing, I'll be filling them again for next winter.

I fell sick in February. I could hardly creep around the house from then until about a week ago. It was so wonderful to not have to bundle up, face the cold and snow, and go all the way to town because I had to have -----. I was getting rather stir crazy by the time I felt better. I spent all day in town yesterday! Today I'm going to the commissary, but just for normal "this month" items.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 1:46PM
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Re: buying TP in bulk - when I was growing up, my mother bought TP in 4 packs, maybe a 4 pack or two a week. There were six kids in our family, so I'm not sure why she didn't buy more. Didn't see the need for doing that, I guess. After most of us were gone, and my dad retired, he did some of the shopping, bought TP in bulk. We teased him about the TP buying - was he afraid of running out?

Now as an adult and a housewife, I understand the rationale behind buying TP - and other things - in bulk. It's more cost effective that way, and it saves stopping at the grocery store for just a few things, which may (or may not) be a good price that particular day.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 2:44PM
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I need a smaller house to limit my storage!
Short of that, lots of good ideas here. I am trying to stock up less on consumables because things go out of date before I use them sometime. TP I hate to run out of so still buying that in advance.
Thank you!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 6:40PM
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With the rate of inflation vs. the rate of return for savings these days it's far better to buy in bulk and store. I've had a much higher rate of return than keeping my money in a bank. not to mention the gas money ti takes to drive to a store to buy a few things of TP or soap

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 2:15PM
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