Back-to-School Shopping Sans Clutter

Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $848.90 per child on back-to-school shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation, or $59 more than last year.

Given the downturn in spending while kids were distance-learning during the #pandemic, the uptick isn’t surprising. In fact, that lull in spending may mean that many students (and their parents) will be buying more #stuff this year than ever before.

If you’re going to be shopping for school in the weeks ahead, consider what you really need — and what you and your kids can shed in order to make room for it. Otherwise, all of that too-small clothing and all of those broken iPads will just add to the #clutter.

To keep levels of #junk in check, do a thorough #decluttering before you send the kids back to school. Help your children sort toys and books into four piles, Motherly suggests: Keep, donate, trash and “not quite yet.” Put the not-quite-yets in a closet or other out-of-the-way place until your child is comfortable letting them go.

Clothing is simpler: If a garment doesn’t fit, it should be handed down, sold at your next #yardsale or #donated immediately. If something it too worn to be of any further use, you can cut it into rags or trash it.

Books that won’t get read again can go, too. While you may want to hold on to classics that get read again and again, some books are age- or classroom-specific. If your child isn’t going to read a book again, you can donate it to a local library or ClothingDonations.org.

Finally, you can take any starred assignments and drawings from last year off the bulletin board or fridge. New ones will be on the way in just a few weeks, and Family Handyman suggests several #space-saving ways to save and show off a few family favorites.

Once you’ve cleared out the extra stuff you won’t be using, you’ll have space for nearly $900 in new goods. Make a list and start shopping early, however, since there may be shortages of essential items such as backpacks, stationery and tablet computers due to supply-chain disruptions.

“What we will likely see is more limited choice and lower stock levels towards the end of the back-to-school period,” Neil Saunders, retail analyst at GlobalRetail Data, told CNN. “Some consumers will inevitably miss out on the things they want to purchase.”

So You Shopped the President’s Day Sales

Happy President’s Day!

We at the Organizing Blog know that we’re a little late in telling you this, but since retailers were trotting out the deals over the long weekend, you may have celebrated your day off shopping for mattresses, furniture or other household goods.

Having recently moved in to a new home, we did the same. And some of the discounts were incredible! But that doesn’t mean we bought a lot — some things weren’t that great a deal, most we didn’t need, and many would have created more problems than they solved.

Unless you’re starting over, any decorative item or piece of furniture you buy is likely redundant. If you’re short on space, you need to make sure whatever you buy actually replaces an existing item, or you’ll wind up surrounding yourself with #clutter.

You can buy things and still avoid this problem. Is your living room already crowded with furniture and knickknacks? One new couch might be able to do the work of two old loveseats, or a new wall unit could help you make sense of what’s on display.

Some furniture — like beds frames with storage underneath — can actually create space by offering a place to store some of your stuff out of sight. But you’ll need to observe a strict out-with-the-old policy to avoid #clutter.

With large items like beds, mattresses and couches, the ultraminimalist one in/two out rule doesn’t always apply. But be sure to get rid of the one old thing as quickly as you find its replacement, and donate it to ClothingDonations.org if it has some life left in it.

For smaller stuff, make an attempt to find two items in the same category to get rid of as soon as something else enters the inventory. This will preserve the thrill of the shopping “hunt” while slowly downsizing your possessions — or at least keeping them in check.

Observe this simple #decluttering rule, and before you know it, any new stuff you find at the weekend sales will help your home look brand new, stylish and spotless, and the old stuff that survives will consist only of things you truly cherish.

You don’t necessarily have to stop shopping to keep the #clutter at bay!

Reasons Not to Shop on Black Friday

The circulars are out, and the buzz is building. There are so many deals to be had on the busiest shopping day of the year — how could anyone just sit around the house enjoying a long-awaited day off and some Thanksgiving leftovers?!

As tempting as some of those deals might be, you don’t have to shop on Black Friday. In fact, it might save you lots of money in the long run if you avoid the crowds and keep your credit cards hidden away in a drawer. Otherwise, you might overspend.

“We go with a list, but other tempting deals reel us in,” says Simply Organized Home. “Then, all of a sudden, we had to have it. After coming home and realizing we went over our budget, we get a sickening feeling down in our stomach.”

That sickening feeling foreshadows bills that might be a lot more than you want to pay after all of the gifts are given and all of the tidings are told. What’s more, a lot of that impulse stuff is probably unnecessary, so you and yours will have to find places to put it.

Then there’s the hassle of fighting the crowds — those legions of people who, like you, want to save a buck or two on whatever the “it” item is this year. Do yourself a favor and turn tail on those crowds unless you truly regard shopping as a competitive sport.

The fact of the matter is that you can probably get just as good a deal by shopping online, and do so in a more targeted and efficient way. If you know exactly what you want, you can probably get just as a good a deal while sipping coffee in your bathrobe.

And if you don’t buy those things nobody needs, you and your giftees will have less clutter to cope with at home. Less clutter means less anxiety — and less time spent simply managing one’s own possessions.

Use the day to plan what you want to give to your family and friends. Consider giving a gift that take up no space whatsoever, like a charitable donation to the Vietnam Veterans of America or another worthy nonprofit.

Or take a day to decompress. Instead of going to a mall or big-box store, “Go ice skating,” says The Minimalists. “Donate your time to a food bank. Play in the snow (or in the sand). Or just relax and enjoy the holiday season. Simply be together — no purchase necessary.”

Don’t Treat Holiday Shopping Like a Job

While most stores will stay closed through the Thanksgiving holiday, a handful of major retailers such as Target and JCPenney will be open late Thursday to launch the make-or-break holiday shopping season. The Organizing Blog doesn’t necessarily approve of shopping while you’re supposed to be feasting, but knows that a few readers may attempt to beat the crowds and get the best deals. Dress to go from cold, outdoor weather to warm stores quickly, Money Crashers says, and don’t treat shopping like a job. “No matter what happens on Black Friday, remember to relax and try to enjoy yourself. Shopping for holiday gifts isn’t the highest-stakes thing you’ll do this year.”

Make a Budget for Black Friday

To ensure you don’t overspend at the Black Friday sales this week, start out with a strict budget, Consumer Reports advises. Whether you do most of your holiday shopping in-store or online, decide how much you’re ultimately going to spend, and stick to that number. If you are not sure that you’re getting the best price on something, move on to the next web page or display. And if you can’t resist using a credit card to overspend, only carry cash to stores instead. Finally, check retailers’ return and exchange policies on Black Friday items to avoid paying a restocking fee or having to keep merchandise you don’t want.