Don't Run to the Store Until You've Checked this Bargain Basement

Dollars & Sense on 03.31.11
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Beaded flowers my daughter made with materials we realized we had at home.

Have you ever run to the shopping center only to realize that what you needed was waiting quietly in your closet? Or gone in to just get one thing and walked out with ten?

Sure, shopping can be fun. But if you are low on funds or time, like me, or you don't like to see things wasted, mining your home stores can be surprisingly satisfying.

My third-grade daughter was leafing through a Martha Stewart craft book last weekend and decided she wanted to make beaded flowers. I sighed and reminded her that Dad was away, so we'd have to lug everyone to the craft store, and the baby had to nap, and so on and so on.

"Do we have this stuff?" she asked. Children sometimes put my common sense to shame.

What are you saving it for anyway?

I went down to the basement and, in a few minutes, unearthed everything we needed to make her flowers:  a few bottles of seed beads in a craft box, 30-gauge wire and a pair of needle-nosed pliers in the tool box. The only thing we didn't have was floral tape, but Sofia was fine about white electrical tape covered with green tissue paper.

So many times we assume we don't have what we need because it's not right in front of us. Stockpiling can save money, but only if we remember that we've stored it, and we can find it without rummaging through a tower of dusty boxes in the attic.

How to keep your store running smoothly

  • Organize and label your stuff.
  • Don't put something on the shopping list until you've checked your stock.
  • When you do buy things, steer away from getting too much at once. Tastes change.

Just last week I was about to buy eye shadow and liner. Then "ding!" -- I checked the linen closet. Sure enough, I had two sticks of eyeliner and a half-used compact of my favorite shadow. I switched out a few broken lids, and I was back in business for several more months.

So the next time you need something, check your home-store first. And spend the time you'll save calling a friend, or making flowers.

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