Many of us want to reduce debt and increase wealth. I'm no exception. This site will chronicle my efforts to live more frugally, pay off my debt, and save money. I hope you will find inspiration to get a handle on your own finances too, if you haven't already.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What happened when I packed away half our dishes...

We are a family of two but until recently have had enough dishes and silverware to feed eight people at a time and enough cups and mugs for even more. It felt like I was doing dishes ALL. THE. TIME. The sink was constantly overflowing with dishes and I was spending a lot of time either loading and unloading the dishwasher or washing the dishes by hand. It was exhausting and both my water and electric bills were much higher than necessary.

I was sick of it.

One day, as I was washing Mt. Dishmore, I realized that we had about TWENTY mugs in our cupboard! TWENTY! When are we ever going to need that many mugs??? I stopped washing dishes, dried my hands, and immediately put half of those mugs in a box and packed it away. I finished washing the dishes, but throughout the rest of the following weeks I began to weed through the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen for things that we never used or that we didn't need. Turns out there was A LOT! However, it was some time before I began to purge silverware, dishes, and more.

I was still washing tons of dishes every single day. Tons of them! It was taking so much time and energy. And, it was costing a lot of money in terms of my utility bills, not to mention the time it was taking away from other activities and from my son.

I finally decided to get serious. We are only two people and we don't entertain all that often. I decided we needed to just have enough dishes to get through two meals each, plus some tools for cooking. I decided to cut the amount of our dishes, silverware, and cups and mugs in the cupboards in half. It was a great decision! I spend a lot less time washing dishes and my son is more willing to pitch in and wash dishes too - neither of us is overwhelmed by Mt. Dishmore anymore!

Washing dishes now takes about ten minutes instead of an hour (or more!) because we simply don't have as many dishes to dirty! Before making this change, it was easy to simply grab another plate or spoon or whatever rather than washing dishes. We would always rationalize not washing the dishes right away because there were clean ones since we had so many - "Why not grab a clean one instead of washing a dirty one? I can always wash the dishes later." It was exhausting!

Now that we've pared down, I have tons more free time to spend on my son, studying, or other activities. More is more - more work, more drudgery. There is a reason behind the saying "Less is more..." 

I've also cut back on silverware, but how much to keep and pack away has been a bit trickier since I use regular spoons, knives, and forks for all sorts of things besides just eating. I use them during food preparation, for my tea, and so on. Eventually, I settled on six of each piece of silverware and four steak knives. I also put away the various knives I've never used - EVER - that came with the knife set.

I also put away tons of other tools, pots, and pans that I never use or that I absolutely loathe washing because they are so big - if I want to bake cake I would rather use two smaller pans than my huge sheet cake pan. It just saves time, energy, and money. It's much more relaxing to come home now to an almost empty sink and know that I only need to spend a few minutes in front of the sink rather than my entire evening.

I also decided that instead of buying a utensil container or a special tin for tea bags, I would use containers that I already had at home. I had lots of plant pots around that I love but haven't used. They make GREAT kitchen storage containers!

 I used to have enough cooking implements to fill probably EIGHT of these cute pots. Now I just keep out the essentials - only items I use at least three or four times per week. A few slotted spoons, a non-slotted spoon, a whisk, can opener, tea strainer, two wooden spoons, and a spoon for our rice cooker.
 I bought this little pot on sale at Homegoods (I think) and had a plant in it that eventually died. I *love* this pot so I cleaned it thoroughly and now it holds tea bags (bought on sale and with coupons - our store doubles coupons and sometimes the sale prices are great! Each $5 box of tea was $1 after the sale price and coupons!).

A little white IKEA pot (bought from their clearance section) is great for holding scissors. We have eight pairs of scissors so I put away half and keep these two in the kitchen, another pair in the office, and one pair with my sewing stuff.  The other four are packed away. The little green vase is something I bought many, many years ago when I worked at a garden supply and patio furniture store. I also keep a marker in the white pot so I can label leftovers easily and without having to search out a marker that will work on our containers. Of all the things I own, this little green vase is one of my most favorite! If you have things you love, find ways to use and display them everyday! Don't let them languish in a box until "the right time" because what if that "right time" never happens? NOW is the right time! The green vase holds a few little things that were gifts from my best friend, a fabric crow that belonged to my grandmother, and a garden gnome stake.

These may seem like little changes, but they are having a big impact on our lives. I've got so much more free time. Instead of spending time on dishes, I now have more time to interact with my son, pay attention to our dogs, draw, read, and enjoy life. Our electric and water bills have both dropped (I also stopped using the dishwasher ENTIRELY!) too which is great for my financial health as I try to dig out of debt and move towards financial stability. I've been a lot happier in general just with little changes like these. 

Should family or friends drop by, it's a so easy to just pull a dish or two out of the box in the closet, quickly give it a rinse and have enough dishes to serve guests. In fact, we did just that a few weeks ago when a friend and her children joined us for a BBQ. The key is to wash and repack those dishes as soon as possible so you don't end up with Mt. Dishmore ever again!

Stay tuned for my next two posts which will be my progress with Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Planner and lessons learned from downsizing in general. Until then, I would like to invite you to check out my Etsy shops:

***Please note, the Dave Ramsey link is an affiliate link, and if you choose to purchase through this link, I will receive a small commission.