If you were to take a peek inside of our closets or on the shelves in our garage, you’d find a lot of sealed boxes with a prominent date on the outside and a label of some sort. I call these boxes our “tomorrow boxes,” and they all serve a similar purpose – they’re storing something to be utilized or re-evaluated on a certain date. Even more interesting, these boxes have saved us a tremendous amount of money and space over the years. Here are three of the best tactics we use.
A “get rid of” box Some of the boxes have a date on them that indicates when we’ve agreed to sell off or get rid of the contents because we aren’t actively using the stuff inside. For example, right now there’s a “get rid of” box in the garage with an October date on it full of about 80 DVDs – half of our remaining collection or so. The first time I notice that box after that date, I’ll know that I can just get rid of those DVDs without a worry, because we haven’t looked at them at all in almost a year. This method has convinced me to get rid of many items that I would have otherwise felt an urge to keep for some reason, when the truth is that keeping the item was totally unnecessary.
You can do this with any items that you’re tempted to get rid of but aren’t quite sure if you’ll miss it in the future. Put it in a box that says something like “DVDs to get rid of on” and specify a date several months in the future. If you haven’t looked at the box and that marked date has passed, you can pretty safely get rid of the contents of the box.
Future clothes I’m clearly in the “big and tall” clothing group, and so when I find an opportunity to buy clothes that fit me well at a cheap rate, I stock up. I actually have shoes that will fit my size 16 feet still in boxes, waiting to be worn when my current shoes wear out (I don’t need to look at shoes again until I’m 40 or so).
Rather than just stuffing my closet with a bunch of clothes, I just keep ten to twelve shirts and a similar number of pants in my closet and the excess is in storage boxes. When one of the articles of clothing gets a bit worn, I take it to Goodwill and then pop open the storage box at home to replace it.
Since I live in Iowa, I actually have “summer” boxes and “winter” boxes, and during the opposing season, I’ll just box up all of the clothes from the other season. Then, when the weather starts to warm up or get cold, I get out clothes appropriate for that season from the boxes.
This allows me to shop for clothes not based on need, but based on when I find a ridiculously good deal. That makes clothes shopping incredibly cheap for me.
Future entertainment Quite often, I’ll read a great book and realize at the end that I’ll want to re-read it again someday. At the same time, I like to keep a pretty empty bookshelf, never over-cluttering it.
I solve both problems by keeping a “future re-read” box. If I have a book I like that I’ve acquired off of PaperBackSwap or as a gift and I know I’d like to re-read it again in the future, I stick it in a box. When that box fills up, I date it about two years in the future, label it “books to read,” and stick it on a shelf out in the garage. Then, when that date comes, I pop open the box … and have a ton of fresh reading material.
Opening that box again is almost like Christmas. I usually remember two or three of the ten or so books in the box, but the rest are a very pleasant surprise and I’m really anxious to curl up with the books again. At this point, it’s basically free reading – an extremely cheap way to entertain myself for quite a while.
A tip on labeling If you actually start doing this, I strongly encourage you to use masking tape for the labels so that the boxes can easily be reused. Once the date has been reached, just empty out the box, peel off the masking tape label, and you’re ready to store something else.