5 Tips on How to Store Winter Clothes

Sewing is not something everyone is fluent in, and let’s face it — it is a time-consuming and often frustrating activity. Fortunately, with the right resources, you can easily repair your winter items before storing them with iron-on patches. (Here’s a side gig opportunity for you sewers out there. Offer to make these repairs for friends or the winter sports community for cash, of course.)
Most department stores stock iron-on patches, making it as simple as heading to your local Walmart or Joann Fabrics to quickly and economically get your winter clothes ready for long-term storage.

5 Ways to Get More Life Out Cold Weather Clothes

Patagonia offers a free repair for all of its branded clothing, for example. All you need to do is submit a repair assessment form and Patagonia will pay for the shipping and repair of your item.
You may be tempted to stuff that down parka in a box and store it in the attic. After all, you want that closet space for summer clothes. But don’t. Down needs to breathe. Follow the tips below but let the coat hang loose in the closet. When you’re ready to wear it again, and doesn’t that come too soon, toss it in the dryer on low for about 10 minutes.

1. Repair Before You Pack

To wash a down jacket, aim to use a front-loading washer (top-loading washer drums can sometimes agitate or distort down items). Place the down jacket in the washer with like items (ahem, your other winter clothes), set the wash and rinse setting to cold water, and use a down-specific detergent.
One unique trait of winter clothing is that much of it is waterproof or water-resistant. This comes in handy during snowstorms, sleet and slush that are trademarks of the year’s most frigid months.
There are tons of waterproofing products on the market to protect your winter gear. Many exist in the form of sprays or paint-on coatings that dry quickly and do not impact the look or feel of the clothing. Most cost under and will help your winter clothes last for numerous snowstorms to come.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Whether you’re hoping to make your winter wardrobe more resistant to the elements or protect a particularly cozy sweater from the cold, making the investment in waterproofing before storing winter clothes will help you save time and money next year and beyond.
Being proactive is rarely a bad thing. In this case, taking steps to prevent winter clothes-loving critters like moths and mice will pay dividends in keeping your winter gear creature-free.

2. Prepare for the Next Snowstorm … a Year in Advance

REI also makes it easy to extend the life of your winter gear before storing it into a closet. Whether you have a backpack, jacket, shirt, or winter shoes  that could use some love, REI has you covered and will provide you with a free estimate for any repairs.
Instead, make your first stop in storing winter clothes the repair shop. And thanks to nationally available programs, fixing a rip or tear doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.
Wool coats, however, can be stored in bug-proof garment bags and stored in the attic or basement. Read on for more tips.
It may seem obvious, but giving winter gear a once-over with detergent or other cleaning supplies will help winter coats, winter shoes, and other cold-weather items to maintain their textile integrity and bonus —  it will help keep clothes smelling fresh for the next time you pull them out and over your head.
The sting of winter’s cold is finally giving way to the warmer, sunnier days of spring. As the seasons change, so too does our wardrobe. Goodbye parka, hello light sweater. It’s a welcome change for many of us to store our winter clothes and not give them a second thought for many months.

3. Bring the Heat to the Cold

Winter is a harsh season. For many of us, it entails snow, wind, mud and sidewalk salt. All of these can impact the integrity of your favorite winter clothes.
To ward off moths and other bugs, spend less than on a bag of cedar chips. Place the chips in the storage bin, plastic bag, or closet where you are storing winter clothes and let the refreshing cedar scent not only soothe your nose, but naturally ward off undesirable insects. Cedar will not damage clothes or alter them, either, making it a cheap way to keep winter clothes fresh.
Ensuring that down-filled products — and all winter gear — are entirely dry before storing them in a closet for months is critical. Down products can go in a low-heat dryer. For other products such as shoes and boots, using a low-heat setting on a hairdryer or good ole’ air drying should suffice.
But knowing how to store winter clothes is key to making garments last beyond one season. Down parkas can cost anywhere from 0 to ,000. No matter what you spend, you don’t want to flush that money away. Taking care to store winter clothes with an eye for longevity can help turn your one-season parka purchase into a multi-decade investment, saving you hundreds  — if not thousands — of dollars over the years.

Depending on how big the tear is, a tailor might charge to . If you have a good relationship with a cleaners, their tailor might make the fix for less. On a less expensive coat, the repair might not be worth it but if you’ve paid 0 or more and only worn the coat for one season, consider the repair.

4. Ward Off the Vermin

Colorado-based writer Kristin Jenny focuses on lifestyle and wellness. She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
Instead of chucking those winter boots into a closet and hoping for the best, be proactive  by restoring waterproof abilities prior to tossing in a storage container.
Iron-on patches are extremely cheap — often less than —and only require a hot iron in order to be effective.
Storing winter clothes is a process that should be done with some thought and should not be a haphazard process of tossing things into plastic bags, shoving them under the bed, and calling it good.
Although bugs are typically the main culprit in clothing destruction, mice are not uncommon predators to winter clothing in long term storage or hastily-packed storage bins.

5. Keep it Clean

Winter clothing is rarely cheap and is often a budget-altering expense. From boots costing over 0 to specialized pants and accessories starting in the -range, it is to your benefit to know how to store winter clothes. When done correctly, you’ll have gear that lasts for years —if not decades — and will save you enough money to perhaps take that ski trip you’ve always dreamed about.
There are a variety of iron-on patches to choose from, with some made specific for nylon gear, some for jeans, and others for standard cotton clothing.
For synthetic and water-resistant products like Gore-Tex, a damp towel with some gentle soap should be enough to wipe away a winter’s worth of grime. The same goes for many winterized shoes and winter boots.
Even the most durable of winter gear can rip, snag or tear. While programs like those of Patagonia and REI will assist in repairing everything from damaged clothing to worn winter boots, sometimes it can be easier and more efficient to fix a small hole yourself.
For just about , you can purchase these ultrasonic sensors to put in your closet, small space, or attic and know that your winter gear will be safe for another season.
Outside of mouse traps, ultrasonic mice repellent sensors are a natural and slightly less grisly way to defend against these four-legged foe.
Nothing lasts forever, including the waterproof coating that protects much of the winter gear you’re getting ready to put into a storage bin.

The Best Way to Organize Your Closet

How do you store stuff in your closet?

If you’re the type of person who tosses in everything, transforming your closet into a cluttered hole of hidden treasures, you should consider a new approach.

With a little effort and a few organizational accessories, you can figure out the best way to organize your closet. No longer will you lose items in the overstuffed space or spend too much time searching for an item you know is in there.

Transform your closet so it serves you rather than simply holding your clutter. These closet organization tips will help you set your space up for maximum usage.

1. Complete a purge

folding clothesfolding clothes

Before you can organize, get rid of what’s only taking up space. All the items you don’t wear or even want anymore shouldn’t hang around in your closet. Purging may seem simple enough on paper, but sometimes we keep clothes, shoes, purses or ties because they remind us of our younger selves or hold a special memory.

As you go through your closet clutter, instead of thinking about how the item makes you feel in general, ask yourself if you still feel great when you wear it. Does it still look good on you? Would you even wear it out today? If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to part with it.

Once you’ve separated the stuff in your closet into keep and discard piles, you can donate unwanted items. Closet Factory shares some of the most popular charities for donating clothing, shoes or other common closet accessories:

  • Goodwill and Salvation Army often have easy drop points and take just about anything. You can schedule a pick-up if you have a lot of items, or just go to a drop point at your convenience.
  • Soles4Souls and Indigo Rescue handle specialty items. The first sends donated shoes to people in need while the latter collects unwanted jewelry that’s used to fund animal shelters.
  • If you have a lot of professional-style clothing to donate, consider an organization like Dress for Success or Career Gear.

2. Create a closet system

closet systemcloset system

Whether you need to completely organize your closet or are only focusing on one specific area, there’s an organizational solution to any closet issue, according to Good Housekeeping.

This can mean doing a complete overhaul with the help of a full system like Elfa at The Container Store. Using a system lets you design your own closet, along with the option to install the pieces yourself or have it done for you. Many pieces are also modular and easy to change.

When your closet has good bones, and you just want to make a few additions to its overall design, it might be easier to buy organizational items a la carte.

Shelving

Adding some additional shelving into your closet can create way more storage space. If there’s nothing above your closet rod, a few extra shelves can become a great place to store out-of-season clothing, jackets or even sweaters.

Add a small, folding step-stool to your closet and these items won’t ever be out of reach. Putting a few extra shelves at the bottom of your closet can provide great storage for shoes, handbags and even extra sheets and towels.

Bins

If you don’t like the way it looks to have all your clothing stacked on open shelves, consider bins or crates. You can even create a makeshift dresser by stacking these in just the right way. This becomes great storage for smaller items like sandals, socks or accessories. They’re a great way to keep items organized and give everything in your closet a proper place.

3. Add some organizational accessories

closet organization accessoriescloset organization accessories

Once the closet itself starts to feel organized, it’s time to tackle the extra space. You may think, “What extra space?,” but doors, walls and even the sides of your closet system are all begging for organizational accessories to fit even more into your closet without sacrificing its nice and neat appearance. Some great items to add include:

  • Over-the-door shoe racks to hold shoes or store your jewelry
  • Stick-on hooks for walls and any vertical space. Positioned at varying heights, they’re great for everything from purses to belts.
  • A floor shoe rack for easy access to the sandals, sneakers and boots you wear every day
  • Hanging storage that fits right on the closet rod. With multiple compartments, they help you take advantage of vertical space.

Specialty hangers

Another accessory you might not immediately think of for organization are hangers. These essential closet components not only keep your clothes wrinkle-free, but they can create even more room in your closet. Substituting some of your regular hangers with specialty ones can free up space and keep your closet looking perfectly arranged.

  • Multiple and tiered hangers drop down, allowing you to use the footprint from a single hanger to hang more than one piece of clothing
  • Hangers with clips allow you to combine a top with bottoms on just one hanger
  • Hook hangers let you drape multiple items from a single spot

You can also transform a regular hanger into a specialty space-saver with the help of a few shower curtain rings. Attach them to your hanger and then store things like scarves, belts or hats. You can fit your entire collection on a single hanger rather than having it take up too much space in a stack.

4. Work in some decor

closet decorcloset decor

There’s no reason your organized closet needs to look boring. The best way to organize your closet can include a few personal touches. This can help make the space feel welcoming and purposeful.

If you have room, add a mirror or small framed picture. Use hat boxes, vintage luggage, decorative boxes or decorative metal baskets as storage containers instead of more generic, plastic ones.

Get creative when storing small items, such as jewelry, gloves and sunglasses with cigar boxes, vintage lunch boxes or even a small (clean!) tackle box.

What’s the best way to organize your closet?

The best way to organize your closet is to do whatever makes it easiest for you to get to all your stuff. No matter the size, it’s time to embrace your closet’s potential. When you design a closet space that’s easy to access, it will surprise you how motivated you’ll be about neatly hanging up your clothes. Use these closet organization tips to maximize every inch and love your closet again.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

6 Garage Sale Setup Tips to Best Display Your Items & Make More Money

Picture this: You’re cruising down the street one day, and you spot two garage sales on the same block. The first has racks of clothes, bins of books and records, and a few high-value items prominently displayed near the curb. The second features jumbled, messy piles and boxes scattered across the yard.

Which one would you stop at?

Presentation is crucial to a successful yard sale. You can and should advertise your sale, but you also want to encourage passers-by to stop and look at your wares. If your sale doesn’t make a good first impression, most will just keep going.

No matter how much good stuff your sale has, it won’t bring in shoppers who can’t see it easily. People passing on foot only have your sale in their sights for a couple of minutes at most, and drivers on the street see it for as little as a couple of seconds.

To draw them in, you must show off your sale items so effectively their first glimpse convinces them to take a closer look.

Garage Sale Tips for Presentation

A garage sale has two purposes. It’s a way to declutter your home and bring in some extra cash. And the best way to achieve both goals is to attract as many customers as possible.

When you’re trying to draw in shoppers, pricing isn’t the most crucial factor. Yes, yard sale shoppers love bargains, but if your garage sale items don’t look appealing, no one will even stop to look at the price tags.

So before you even get out the price stickers, you need to spend some time thinking about how to set up your yard sale display to catch the eye.

1. Clean Your Items

Suppose you’re shopping yard sales looking for outdoor furniture. You come across a set that looks sturdy, but the chair arms and backs are coated in grime and their cushions are mildewy. Would you buy them or keep looking for a set in better condition?

That illustrates how important cleaning is. Something that’s otherwise in perfectly good shape becomes a complete turn-off for buyers if it’s covered in dirt. Even if you haven’t used something in years, it can come out of storage sporting a thick coat of dust that makes buyers pass it over.

So before you even think about how to display pieces, give each of them a quick touch-up with a dusting cloth. If anything is especially dirty, take the time to scrub it down with soap and water.

Some garage sale items need more specific cleaning treatment. Run clothes through the washer and dryer to remove dirt and odors, and give shoes a quick polish to remove scuff marks. If you have purses or other bags to sell, clean out dirt and debris from their interiors (and while you’re at it, make sure there’s nothing of value left inside).

2. Show Off the Good Stuff

Shoppers get their first glimpse of your garage sale from either the street or the sidewalk. If all they can see in that first look is a bunch of cheap junk, many will keep moving instead of stopping to browse.

There may be some real gems hidden toward the back of your yard or garage, but many prospective buyers will never see them.

If you want to hold a successful garage sale that attracts as many buyers as possible, put your most appealing merchandise front and center. In my experience, the best yard sale items for attracting buyers include:

  • Antiques of any kind — furniture, houseware, jewelry
  • Appliances
  • Board games
  • Clothing and accessories in good condition, such as shoes and purses
  • Electronics like TVs and stereos
  • Furniture
  • Musical instruments
  • Sporting equipment, including bicycles and camping gear
  • Tools, including garden tools like lawn mowers

In general, large items have more curb appeal than small ones. For one thing, they’re easier to see from the street. Also, little things like cheap toys and kitchen utensils aren’t that expensive to buy new, so they don’t offer the potential for a major bargain.

Another helpful strategy is to display merchandise likely to appeal to men, such as golf clubs or power tools, as close to the road as possible. In my experience, women are more likely to stop at a garage sale than men, so you don’t need to go to as much effort to reel them in.

By displaying things that typically appeal to them most prominently, you’ll attract men as well as women to your sale.

3. Group Like Items Together

Once you’ve drawn customers to your sale, you want to keep them there as long as possible. It might seem like the way to do that is to place everything randomly so shoppers looking for specific finds have to hunt through every table at the sale to discover them. But that strategy is likely to backfire.

As a shopper, I always find it frustrating when a yard sale has no clear layout. If I’m looking for something in particular, such as clothing or books, I want to see all the clothing or books available in one place. If they’re scattered across all the tables at the sale, I’m likely to get frustrated and walk away.

To make shopping easy for your buyers, group similar items together. Make one table for clothing, one for books, one for housewares, and one for toys, for example. That way, people can go directly to the table that interests them and start browsing.

If you have a lot of one type of product, sort it into narrower categories, such as children’s books and adult books.

To make it easier for yourself, sort your merchandise into boxes by category before your sale. On the day of the sale, you can simply bring each box to its own table and start laying everything out.

4. Keep Everything Visible

The easiest way for you to sort goods into categories is to leave them in their boxes. But that isn’t easy for your buyers. No one wants to bend over a box pulling out one baby onesie after another until they find the size and color they’re after.

Haphazard piles of stuff aren’t appealing either. I’ve walked away from more than one rummage sale because all the clothes were in massive, unsorted piles on the tables. Digging through them all to find the few outfits in my size would have taken hours with no guarantee I’d find anything I liked.

To make your sale appealing, lay your wares out in ways that make them easy to see at a glance. There are multiple ways to display different types of merchandise, depending on how much of it you have and what condition it’s in.

Clothing

The best way to display clothing is on hangers on a portable clothes rack. That keeps garments off the ground and makes them easy to sort through. If you don’t have a clothing rack, look for a makeshift alternative, such as an old ladder or a sturdy clothesline strung between two trees.

If there’s no way to hang clothes, the next best option is to arrange them in neatly folded piles on a table. That’s also a suitable way to display clothes for babies and small children.

But note your neatly folded and stacked garments will invariably get unfolded and strewn about as the day goes on, so you have to tidy up your piles from time to time.

Whichever method you choose, try sorting clothes by size, type, and gender. That makes it still easier for buyers to find what they want. A nice added perk is to display garments like coats with their extra buttons if you still have them.

Accessories

There’s nothing more frustrating than finding one shoe in your size and then having to hunt around for the other before you can try them on. You can significantly increase your shoe sales by taking the time to line pairs up together, either on a table or on a sheet or blanket on the ground.

You can display purses and bags on tables, on the ground, or neatly lined up in boxes. Or if you have a large tree handy, you can make an eye-catching display by hanging handbags from its limbs.

Jewelry is a high-value commodity, so it’s worth making an extra effort to display it well.

Wrap a piece of cardboard in fabric, then stick in pins or small nails to hang necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. You can pin brooches directly to the fabric. If you have coordinating pieces, such as necklace-and-earring sets, display them together.

Books & Recordings

Books are easiest to see if they’re arranged side by side with their spines facing out so people can view the titles at a glance.

The easiest way to accomplish that is to line them up on a bookcase or shelf. But don’t use a bookcase you’re also planning to sell because if someone buys it, you’ll have to remove all the books in a hurry and find a new location for them.

You can also display books by lining them up in a box with their spines facing up. Or if you have a smaller selection of books, you can fan them out on a table faceup so shoppers can see their covers.

Whatever you do, don’t stack books in boxes or pile them on tables so shoppers have to lift each one out of the way to see what’s below it. For all but the most dedicated book buyers, that’s simply too much work to be worth it.

These same display ideas work well for audio or video recordings, including CDs, DVDs, video game cartridges, records, and cassettes. (Yes, there are still people who have held onto their old boomboxes and are willing to buy tapes if they’re cheap enough.) Make the titles visible, and don’t force your buyers to dig.

Furniture & Home Goods

When displaying furniture at a yard sale, consider what type of buyer it would appeal to.

Place sturdy pieces suitable for families near the street, where they’ll draw buyers in. Older, worn-out pieces might appeal to students furnishing a dorm room or DIY fans looking for pieces to make over. Display these pieces farther back but with prominent labels indicating their low prices.

Antique furniture creates a bit of a dilemma. On one hand, it’s an appealing item that can attract shoppers. However, if you place a lightweight piece too close to the street, an ambitious thief could snatch it when you turn your back. Large and heavy furnishings can go in the front, but it’s best to place smaller ones close to the checkout where you can keep an eye on them.

For smaller home decor, consider maximizing its visual appeal by creating little vignettes.

For instance, you can toss a bedspread over a couch to show off its pattern and add a couple of matching throw pillows. To sell a set of dishes, lay out one whole place setting on a table, complete with a napkin and flatware, and keep the rest stowed in a box.

Finally, if you’re selling old electronics, make sure you have all their parts — remotes, cords, and the manual if you have it — bundled along with the primary equipment. You can wrap them up and stash them in a clear plastic bag taped to the side.

Customers will appreciate being able to see at a glance that the equipment has all the necessary parts. And if they want to test the device to make sure it works, all the pieces they need are available. Consider running an extension cord to the house for testing purposes or at least having one handy for shoppers to use.

5. Make Space for Everything

Ideally, most of the goods at your yard sale should be on tables, so shoppers don’t have to bend down to look at them. If you don’t have enough tables to display your wares, borrow from neighbors or friends.

Also, look for ways to create more “table” space from scratch. For instance, you can lay plywood over a pair of sawhorses, milk crates, or even cardboard boxes. You can also use any naturally elevated surfaces in your yard, such as porch steps or retaining walls.

If you’ve tried all these tricks and still don’t have enough table space for everything, prioritize. Reserve your table space for high-value merchandise you really want buyers to see and delicate pieces that could break if left on the ground. Everything else can go on blankets or tarps.

Set out comfortable chairs for yourself and any helpers so you don’t have to spend the whole day on your feet. Set them near a small table or another surface you can use for making change and bagging purchases.

6. Promote Your Sale

No matter how good your yard sale looks, it won’t attract customers if no one comes close enough to see it. That’s why even the best yard sale needs adequate signage.

Before putting up signs, check to see if your town has any regulations about them.

For instance, it might regulate how many signs you can put up, how large they can be, what materials you can use, and where you can display them. It may also have rules about how long before the sale you can put signs up and how long you have after the sale to take them down.

While you’re at it, check all the other local regulations.

Some towns require you to get a garage sale permit, and others limit you to a certain number of sales per year. Putting up signs puts you on the local authorities’ radar, so make sure you’re not running afoul of any rules. Otherwise, the fines could eat into if not exceed your profits.

Once you have any necessary permits and are clear about the signage rules, it’s time to set about making them.

Good yard sale signs are large, clear, and easy to read. Include the address as well as an arrow to point passing motorists in the right direction. If your town allows it, hang signs at all the busiest intersections near your house. From there, leave a trail of signs all the way to your house, pointing shoppers the right way at every turn.

Ensure your yard sale signs include the date and times of your sale as well. I always find it frustrating to see a sign that says, “garage sale,” with an address and no date because I never know if the sale is coming up, currently going on, or already over.

Listing the date and taking down signs once the sale is over ensures shoppers don’t show up on the wrong day.

You can advertise your sale online as well. Sites like Garage Sale Finder exist specifically for this purpose. Many local Craigslist groups have a section for garage sale advertising as well. Other places to put the word out include social media sites like Facebook and Nextdoor.


Final Word

A well-organized garage sale takes more work to set up than a haphazard one.

But putting in this extra effort maximizes the chances your sale will succeed once it gets going. Shoppers are more likely to stop for an attractive sale, and those who stop are more likely to stick around long enough to find something they want to buy.

By taking the time to display your goods well and price them right, you can host a great yard sale instead of just an OK one. And that helps you turn more of your clutter into cash.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Our Seasonal Guide to the Best Outdoor Gear Deals

Planning a vacation in the great outdoors in the next year? Now’s the time to start thinking about new gear and how you can get it for less.

Outdoor equipment can be pricey, but buying it at the right time of the year can get you the gear you covet at a better price. The savings will give you more cash to spend on the outdoor adventures themselves.

We’ve noted national retailers as good sources, however you might be able to get better details from Facebook’s Marketplace or Nextdoor for secondhand equipment. At Gear Trade you can buy both new and used equipment.

It’s time to get out there.

Guide to Buying Outdoor Gear at the Right Time

Ski Equipment

Best time to buy: Fall and March

Details: When ski shops shut down for the season, they usually have to clear out the inventory. Many of these stores stay in the outdoor gear business year-round, converting to bicycle or camping gear stores come spring and summer. But there’s always the question of what to do with all the bulky skis and snowboards that are left. The answer is usually to sell them cheaply. While the selection might not be great post-ski season, the prices are. Another option is to buy used ski equipment via GearTrade.com. Every week that an item doesn’t sell, the price drops so you can watch your favorite items until the price is right (unless someone else snags it first).

You’ll save: 50-60 percent

Where to buy it: Backcountry; REI; Gear Trade

Camping Equipment (Mostly Tents, Things to Sleep On)

Best time to buy: September

Details: In September, retailers don’t typically have many people clamoring to buy camping gear because it’s getting cold in much of the country, and they want to sell as much as possible, Priobrazhenskiy says. November through January are also good times to purchase when people are searching for holiday gifts. If you have a last-minute outing, you can find discounted items in late August as well, says Andrew Priobrazhenskiy, the CEO of DiscountReactor, an e-commerce business.

You’ll save: 50 percent

Where to buy: REI;  Dick’s Sporting Goods

Seasonal Sports Clothes (Ski Coats, Bathing Suits, Hiking Clothes and More)

Best time to buy: May

Details: If you wait until July or August, you’ll also be able to get your hands on great sale options and discounts as well, says Priobrazhenskiy.

You’ll save: 50 percent

Where to buy: REI;  Patagonia; Moosejaw

Outdoor Cooking Gear

Best time to buy: February, June and August

Details: These items such as camp stoves and cooking supplies and utensils tend to go on sale during these months. This is when most people plan their camping and outdoor trips, and retailers want to snag the business, Priobrazhenskiy says.

You’ll save: Up to 60 percent

Where to buy: Dick’s Sporting Goods

Stand Up Paddleboards, Surf Boards, Kiteboards, Windsurfers

Best time to buy: August

Details: Purchasing your water sports equipment at the end of the summer is best because many stores hold end-of-season clearance sales, says Holly Appleby, a marine conservation researcher and surf instructor who runs Ocean Today, a project dedicated to ocean education. If you purchase at the end of the season, however, ensure you have adequate storage for your new equipment. Surfboards and paddleboards should be stored out of the sun in a cool, dry place, Appleby says. And while many items can be purchased secondhand, Appleby cautions against purchasing water sports equipment this way. “Purchasing secondhand usually means you can get good deals year-round, but while you’ll likely save money, there’s a chance the safety of the item has been compromised,” she says.

You’ll save: 40 percent

Where to buy: Dick’s Sporting Goods; REI

Kayaks and Canoes

Best time to buy: End of August

Details: The prime season for paddling around lakes, rivers and other waterways in much of the United States is August. So the end of August is a great time to buy a discounted kayak, canoe or other piece of paddle equipment. Don’t want to store it for a year before you’ll get to use it? Memorial Day usually draws major lake equipment sales, as does Christmas. The worst time to purchase these items is spring, when the new inventory arrives in the stores. Often, you can find used paddling craft and equipment on Craigslist or on local Facebook groups for half the price during the spring and fall months.

Two people kayak in the water.
Getty Images

You’ll save: 40-50 percent

Where to buy: REI; Cabela’s

Hiking Gear

Best time to buy: March and April

Details: The majority of sporting goods retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops and Camping World will have closeouts in the spring to make room for new gear and accessories for hiking such as boots, packs, navigation tools and trekking poles, says Vipin Porwal, founder and consumer savings expert at Smarty and Smarty Plus. “It’s very important to take advantage of any available savings with trending coupons and rewards like cash back in order to assure the best price, regardless of the stores you’re shopping in,” Porwal says.

You’ll save: 10-40 percent

Where to buy: Dick’s Sporting Goods; Bass Pro Shops; Camping World

Bicycles and Helmets

Best time to buy: Fall

Details: This is when the stores get rid of the previous summer stock and to make room for new models. But you can also get good deals on Black Friday and around the Christmas season. If you’re looking for a specialist bike, such as a mountain bike or a road bike, these will be on sale whenever they’re out of race season (usually the winter months). Save even more by asking to purchase a demo bike. These are the bikes that shops lend to prospective buyers. They tend to be well-maintained, and are the equivalent of an open box item in an electronics store.

You’ll save: 20-35 percent

Where to buy: You should purchase bicycles at a local store to get the correct fit.

Fishing Gear

Best time to buy: February

Details: About two months after the December holiday season is the sweet spot: It’s too early to fish in much of the country except for all but hardy ice anglers and stores need to sell off their older gear. Make sure to look in the used sections as well because that’s where better deals can be found.

You’ll save: 25-40 percent

Where to buy: Cabela’s; Bass Pro Shops

Car Racks to Carry It All

Best time to buy: November

Details: Black Friday is the best time to snag racks for bikes, watercraft, skis, snowboards and more, but you’ll rarely see these for more than 20 percent off. Want a better deal? Look for these on EBay or Craigslist, or scour local Facebook Marketplace listings. These are sturdy so you don’t typically have to worry about it being damaged and often, people will use theirs for a trip or two before getting rid of it.

You’ll save: 20 percent

Where to buy: REI; Backcountry

Danielle Braff is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Couponing Do’s & Don’ts — How to Save Money Shopping With Coupons

You’ve probably already used coupons at some point in your life. According to a 2020 survey by Statista, almost 90% of respondents reported having used coupons for shopping. Considering that coupons provide a fast, free way to reduce spending on groceries and essentials, it’s clear why coupons are so popular.

But to make your couponing efforts more successful, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the tips and tricks successful couponers use. The last thing you want to do is waste time collecting coupons only to realize none of them is valid when you’re checking out.

If you’re relatively new to couponing, start slowly by bringing a few paper coupons to your next shopping trip. Over time, you can incorporate more of these couponing do’s and don’ts to save more.

Couponing Do’s

Couponing doesn’t have to feel like a marathon or take up hours of your week. By following one or more of these couponing do’s, you can start to trim your monthly spending — and ultimately save more money.

1. Do Know Where to Find Coupons

The most basic step in starting to coupon is to collect them. Ideally, you can gradually build a stash of coupons for the stores and brands you frequently shop so you can always find some savings at the register.

To begin your coupon hunt, plan your weekly meals around sale products if possible. That helps you find discounts without even having to coupon. To find in-store sales, look for digital flyers on grocery store websites.

Another resource is Flipp, a free app that provides weekly flyers, deals, and online coupons for over 2,000 stores. Flipp has weekly flyers for stores like Aldi, Kroger, and Walmart. You can clip deals you find to the in-app shopping list to help you keep track.

Once your virtual or paper shopping list has all the food you need for the week, finish the list with any household essentials you need to restock, like toilet paper or cleaning supplies. You’re now ready to track down coupons for everything on your shopping list.

There are several free websites you can use to print paper coupons. These websites include coupon databases and brand websites like:

Coupons.com, Coupon Sherpa, RetailMeNot, and Valpak also have mobile apps that let you find and redeem digital coupons at the register. If you don’t want to spend time and money printing coupons, apps are your best resource. You can also try other mobile coupon apps like Grocery Pal and The Coupons App, which have digital coupons for grocery stores like Aldi, Albertsons, Kroger, Food Lion, Safeway, and Publix.

Between paper and digital coupons, you should find savings on some of the products on your weekly shopping list. If you can’t track down a specific coupon, searching online for the product name plus “coupon” is another tactic to try.

Finally, if you subscribe to a Sunday paper or get coupons and ad flyers in the mail, take a few minutes to scan for coupons you need. If you spot an incredible coupon for a product you buy regularly, you can scoop up a few extra newspapers on discount at a dollar store the following day or look online for the same coupon.

Also, don’t forget to check out those coupons they print out at the register after checkout (sometimes called Catalina coupons). Those are typically based on your specific purchases, so there may be something in there you can use. Others may be percent-off discounts on your total sale price if you spend over a certain amount.

You don’t have to go overboard and find duplicates of every coupon for your shopping list. Find as many as you can, and remember to check expiration dates so you shop in time to save.

2. Do Combine Coupons With Cash-Back Rewards Apps

Coupons usually provide a percent discount or certain dollar-off amount to let you save. But if you want to save even more on your weekly grocery haul, you can use cash-back rewards apps to earn rebates for buying certain products.

Just like searching for coupons, you can research rebate opportunities before heading to the store to earn cash back for products you were going to buy anyway. Popular rewards apps you can use include:

  • Ibotta. Earn cash back for buying specific products from Ibotta partners and uploading your receipt to the app for proof of purchase. Ibotta works with over 1,000 brands, and there are always offers on groceries and everyday essentials. You can redeem cash back through PayPal, Venmo, or free gift cards when you reach $20. Read our Ibotta review for more information.
  • Fetch Rewards. If you like Ibotta, Fetch Rewards is another must-download app. With Fetch Rewards, you earn points for buying products from dozens of popular brands. An advantage of Fetch Rewards is that you can redeem many free gift cards once you reach $3, which is possible in a single shopping trip. Read our Fetch Rewards review for more information.
  • Checkout 51. Checkout 51 is similar to Ibotta. Download Checkout 51, select offers to shop for, and upload your receipt to earn rewards. Checkout 51 works at stores like Aldi, Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, Meijer, and Walmart. You get a check when you earn $20 in cash back. Read our Checkout 51 review for more information.

There’s still nothing wrong with using paper coupons or mobile coupon apps if that’s all you have time for. But to save even more, it’s worth trying cash-back rewards apps alongside your couponing efforts.

3. Do Sign Up for Store Savings Cards

Sign up for rewards cards at the stores where you shop. Store rewards cards typically provide shoppers with additional savings in the form of reward points or discounts. Plus, some loyalty programs also send additional coupons in the mail.

Reward cards also help you earn more with Ibotta since you can connect cards from retailers like Meijer, Kroger, and Wegmans to your account. Once you connect a card, Ibotta automatically detects whether your purchase qualifies for cash back and pays you.

4. Do Stay Organized to Maximize Savings

Organize coupons to keep them easily accessible when you shop. The last thing you want is to miss a coupon when checking out or — even worse— forget your coupons at home.

Your organizational system doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. For casual couponers, a coupon wallet on Amazon costs around $10 and comes with dividers to group coupons into different sections, like meat or produce.

If you prefer managing everything from your smartphone, you can also use the free SnipSnap app to transform paper coupons into digital ones. Once you snap a picture of a paper coupon, Snip Snap uploads it to its database so you can use it while on the go. The app also tracks expiration dates and sends reminders about expiring coupons.

5. Do Know Your Store’s Coupon Policy

Does your grocer double coupons, price-match, accept competitor coupons, or give rain checks if sale goods are out of stock? If you don’t know, research coupon policies online. Grocery stores and general retailers like Walmart and Target outline coupon rules on their websites. To find a policy, use a browser to search for the name of your store of choice plus “coupon policy” (for example, “Kroger coupon policy”) or look for a frequently asked questions section on the website. These policies help you save even more money, and they aren’t always prominently advertised. Things to stay informed about include:

  • Price Matching. Stores don’t like losing a potential sale because a competitor has a slightly lower price tag, so many are willing to price match. Price matching is when a store adjusts its price to match a sale at another local store.
  • Competitor Coupons. Your store may accept competitors’ coupons, but you should clarify who their competitors are. For example, Publix accepts coupons for competitors’ private-label products, whereas Meijer doesn’t take competitor coupons at all. But some stores are more specific than Publix. Lowes Foods accepts competitor coupons only from select competitors, like Aldi, Food Lion, Target, and Walmart.
  • Rain Checks. When you want to buy an out-of-stock product, some stores issue rain checks, which guarantee the current price when it’s back in stock. But many stores have specific rules for rain checks. For example, Publix only issues one rain check per household per day (in addition to other, sometimes product-specific restrictions).

6. Do Know Local Stores’ Best Deals & Sale Patterns

You can get the most out of any coupon when you shop at the stores with the best deals for that product type, such as canned goods or toiletries.

That requires paying attention as you shop around. Over time, you learn each local store’s pricing quirks and sale patterns. For example, perhaps your local Walmart’s bakery section regularly puts bread and bagels on sale during certain days of the week. Or maybe your town’s Kroger has better prices and more frequent discounts on frozen meals than your local Publix.

As you learn this type of information, you can be more selective about where you shop for individual products. You don’t have to waste time and gas shopping at multiple stores for a single grocery trip, but for specific products, it can make sense to coupon at stores that are more likely to have deals or just better prices on that product category.

7. Do Start Slowly

When you first start couponing, it feels intimidating if you’re redeeming dozens of coupons and have a lot of numbers to crunch.

For your first few shopping trips, focus on the highest-value coupons, the ones you know are worth using. That might look like bringing three 50%-off coupons or your highest-dollar-value-off coupons.

You can even try using coupons on sale products, but don’t get too creative until you’re comfortable calculating whether things are good deals and handing over coupons at the register.

8. Do Try Stacking Coupons

Combining a coupon with a store sale is a simple way to stack savings. But you don’t have to limit yourself to just stacking coupons with sale prices. Stores like Dollar General, Meijer, and Target let you stack a manufacturer’s coupon and store coupons to save even more.

For example, if Target has Planters peanuts on sale for $2, you can use a $1 Target coupon for Planters products and a $1 Planters manufacturer’s coupon to score a free can of peanuts. You can find store coupons online or in your favorite store’s weekly flyers.

If you can’t get something for free, try stacking coupons with store sales and apps like Ibotta to maximize savings.

For example, there’s a 50%-off clearance sale on a $3.99 Red Baron pepperoni pizza, bringing the price down to $2. If you have a $1 manufacturer coupon, the price is just $1. But since Ibotta has a $0.75 rebate on Red Baron pepperoni pizza, you just scored an entire pizza for only $0.25.

To top it all off, shop with a cash-back credit card to earn even more. The goal of couponing is to find deals whenever possible and get creative to stretch the value of every dollar you spend.

9. Do Use the Overage

When your coupons exceed the sale price of a product, it produces an overage. While that doesn’t invalidate the coupons, most often, that means you get the product for $0.

However, certain retailers apply overages toward other products in your shopping cart. For example, say you get an overage of $0.50 on a box of Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix by using a manufacturer coupon and sale price. Overage-allowing retailers apply the $0.50 overage to another product in your cart.

Walmart and Kroger are two major retailers that apply overages to your cart. And Walmart is one of the few retailers that pays cash back for overages (except on purchases made using government benefits, so save coupons for purchases you make when you’re not using your SNAP and WIC benefits). Kroger issues overages on a merchandise return card (essentially, a Kroger gift card). If you’re in doubt, look up your store’s coupon policy online to learn about overage rules.

10. Do Present Coupons in the Right Order

You can maximize your savings by handing the cashier your coupons in a specific order. For example, if you have a store coupon for $5 off a $20 purchase, use that coupon first. Otherwise, your other coupons might negate the $5 coupon by discounting the total amount of the sale to less than $20.

Some stores automatically apply your coupons correctly, so the order doesn’t always matter. But to be safe, give the cashier the price-minimum coupon before you use any other coupons.

11. Do Get in & Get Out

Know what you plan to buy before you go to the store, and stick to your shopping list.

If you stay in the store too long, you become susceptible to their marketing ploys, and you may end up spending more money. Get in, get the deals, and then get out.

If you shop during less busy grocery shopping hours, like during the week or at night, your trips will also be faster than battling weekend shopping crowds.

12. Do Stock Up

If you spot an incredible couponing opportunity on nonperishable goods or products you use frequently, it’s generally a smart move to stock up. It ensures you benefit from the deal as much as possible and lets you use more coupons before they expire. It’s an excellent way to set up long-term emergency food and supply storage.

Stacking coupons and store sales lets you score the lowest price possible when stocking up. For example, if Green Giant canned corn is on sale for $0.99 per can and you have several BOGO coupons or manufacturer coupons for $0.50 off per can, you can stock up on as many cans as possible to build your food storage for less than half the regular price.

Some stores limit the number of sale products you can purchase at once. If a store puts a limit on something and you need more of it, visit other store locations to create your stockpile.

Stocking up also lets you be pickier about when you use coupons. For example, if you run out of toilet paper, shop your emergency pantry first. You can replace your emergency supplies when you’re able to stack a sale and a coupon rather than buying full-price TP without a coupon.

That’s especially important for edible pantry goods. Canned and dried foods last a long time, but even they eventually go bad. This method ensures your emergency supplies are always safe to eat. If you have to throw them away, you won’t save any money (and may be in trouble if you need them during a bona fide emergency).

But before you come home with 30 cans of creamed corn, make sure you have a place to store it. You can convert a small area of your home, like a guest room closet or second bathroom linen closet, into your emergency pantry.

13. Do Donate the Excess

When couponing, you sometimes encounter scenarios where you can get so much of a free or cheap product that you can’t even use it all before it expires. It’s still a better deal than purchasing without a coupon, but the thought of letting all that product go bad doesn’t sit well with most people.

Instead of turning down an incredible deal, look into ways to donate excess couponing successes to people in need. Charities like homeless shelters, food banks, and women’s shelters make excellent candidates for donations. You can also reach out to local churches and community outreach programs to see if they need certain supplies.

You may even be able to take a charitable contribution tax deduction.


Couponing Don’ts

If you ever watched shows like TLC’s “Extreme Couponing,” successful couponing looks like hours of dumpster diving for coupon flyers, endless clipping, and (in some cases) being way too frugal.

But couponing doesn’t have to become your full-time job. You don’t need to make things overly complex either. As long as you follow couponing best practices and avoid some common couponing mistakes, your savings can benefit without transforming your living room into a coupon-clipping factory.

1. Don’t Shop Without a Meal Plan

Shopping with a meal plan is an often overlooked couponing tip, but it’s crucial to saving money. If you don’t have a plan to use the products you’re buying each week, you’re more likely to waste food.

Additionally, shopping without a menu makes you more likely to buy convenience food: frozen pizzas, hot dogs, and other fast meals. While these are delicious, they’re not conducive to eating healthy on a budget.

When building your shopping list, plan dishes that line up with products you have coupons for. For example, you find a $1-off coupon for two bags of Sargento cheese, a $0.25 coupon for Classico pasta sauce, and a coupon for $1 off two boxes of Mueller’s pasta. You can plan to make lasagna for dinner one night that week and macaroni and cheese as a side for another meal.

Or perhaps you find a coupon for an ingredient that’s central to many dishes, like chicken or ground beef, that also happens to be on sale. You can plan to make several recipes that use that ingredient, then stack the sale and coupon for even more savings.

If that sounds intimidating, affordable meal-planning services like $5 Meal Plan provide a month’s worth of dinner recipes and various breakfast and lunch ideas for only $5 per month.

2. Don’t Use a Coupon on a Full-Price Product

If you use a $1-off coupon on a full-price two-pack of SlimFast protein drinks for $5.68, you still pay $2.34 per beverage. But if you wait until SlimFast is on sale, you can save even more money. For example, if SlimFast goes on sale for 20% off, you can buy two drinks for $4.54, use your coupon, and pay $3.54, or $1.77 each, saving nearly 40% on your purchase.

That’s why operating with an emergency pantry is such a good idea. If you need to restock on an ingredient or product that day, you have to use coupons even if you miss a sale (or worse, pay full price without a coupon). But if you can afford to wait, you can save money in the long run by shopping during sale periods and with coupons more often.

3. Don’t Buy Something Just Because It’s on Sale

Don’t let sale prices trick you into buying something you don’t typically use just because it looks like a deal. If you use coupons without thinking, you inevitably buy things that are a waste of money or products that expire before you have a chance to use them.

Jumping on every great deal out there significantly lightens your wallet and defeats the whole purpose of couponing. That said, if you find a fantastic deal on something you can donate, there’s nothing wrong with couponing for charity.

4. Don’t Be Brand-Loyal

Prego or Ragu spaghetti sauce? Skippy peanut butter or Jif? Which brand should you buy? The answer: whichever one you can get the cheapest using your coupons.

Many people start couponing because of a major life event, like job loss, pregnancy, or too much debt. Those aren’t the times to be brand-loyal. You need to save money, and you can’t do that if you pass on deals because you prefer specific brands.

And sometimes, the cheapest bet is to go with the store brand, even if it means passing up on a coupon or sale for another brand.

For example, at Walmart, the Great Value line is extensive, covering a range of affordable grocery products and everyday essentials. If your coupons can’t beat Great Value, it’s probably best to save them for another time.

Plus, many retailers give coupons for their own brands through register coupons and coupon mailers, so you can still find ways to save on already affordable store brands.

5. Don’t Use Every Coupon

Some coupons don’t represent real savings. For example, a coupon for $0.50 off two boxes of brand-name cereal doesn’t result in much savings. That’s only $0.25 off each box. Even during a good sale, the coupon may not take the total price down to a better deal than the store brand. Wait for a better coupon and another sale.

Sometimes, you also have good coupons nearing their expiration dates but no sales on the goods you need. Let them expire. You don’t have to use the coupons, especially if you have to buy a brand name at full price to do so.

Couponing is about saving money, not getting good deals on brand-name products.

If you really need something, buy one or two of them now and wait for a sale to buy in bulk.

6. Don’t Waste Time

It’s easy to fall into the couponing trap of spending so much time searching for deals and preparing to shop that you’re turning couponing into a part-time job (there are better side gigs to make extra money).

Start by asking yourself how much time you want to dedicate to couponing. The answer could be 15 minutes on Sunday to look through coupon apps or a couple of hours every week to do more thorough research.

With a time commitment in mind, you should also work efficiently. Some tips to save time when couponing include:

  • Only clipping paper coupons you know you’re going to use
  • Turning clipping into a family activity (don’t forget safety scissors for the younger ones)
  • Linking store loyalty cards with apps like Ibotta to avoid preselecting rebates before shopping

You can also order groceries online and use coupons to save both time and money. Online grocery shopping gives you plenty of time to scout deals and coupons and do the math without feeling pressured. It also saves you from clever marketing tactics that induce impulse buys. They try to do the same things online, but you have more time to talk yourself out of it. And you can typically use the same or similar coupons online you do in stores.

For example, at Kroger, you can load digital coupons onto your Kroger Plus card and have them automatically apply to your online grocery order. And if you pick up the order, you can also use paper coupons (Kroger only accepts their own digital coupons for delivery). Just make sure you hit any free pickup minimums to ensure you’re really saving.

As long as couponing is enjoyable and effective, you’re on the right track. Plus, as you gain experience, you’ll find certain coupon apps or websites work best for your shopping habits and become even more efficient at growing your coupon supply.

7. Don’t Print Coupons You Don’t Use

Online printable coupons from websites like Coupons.com can save money. But you still use computer paper and ink to print the coupons, which costs money and wastes paper.

Many people print every online coupon available and then throw most of them away. Print online coupons as you need them. Save any you’re interested in but don’t need as a PDF or browser bookmark.


Final Word

In many ways, learning to coupon is a series of stages. At first, you use a few tips that are convenient to save, like buying products you have coupons for. As you become more comfortable, you start to mix in tricks like coupon stacking and simply using more coupons per shopping trip. If you start loving the process, you eventually graduate to extreme couponing, where it’s possible to score entire grocery hauls for almost pennies on the dollar if you get it right.

Whatever stage you’re in, the goal of couponing is to save more of your money. How much time you spend on it is up to you.

Source: moneycrashers.com

18 Simple Storage Tips for Small Apartments

The average U.S. household has 300,000 things in it.

From the tiniest thumbtack to each book on your shelf and every piece of clothing hanging in your closet, there’s a lot of stuff to keep organized. It’s even more daunting if you’re bringing it all into a smaller apartment.

Many people tend to look at a smaller home and see what’s missing — space. Yet, fewer closets and less built-in storage doesn’t mean you’re missing out on somewhere to put your stuff.

If you’re smart with your furniture choices, color picks and organizational tactics, every corner of a small space can become a “beloved spot.”

Cut the clutter

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When working with a smaller living space, your goal, according to Michelle Crouch writing for Reader’s Digest, should be to remove clutter not create more storage space. Clutter can manifest as items you want to keep, but not display, as well as things that you no longer need.

Certain keepsakes you want to hold onto can spend some time in a storage unit until you have a larger home. Paper records, greeting cards, mementos from special events (that aren’t that special anymore) and old letters from past relationships are all things that no longer need to follow you from place to place.

In fact, having a smaller apartment can help you triage what you really want to keep with you. What’s left can either go into storage or head to the round file (a.k.a. the trash.)

Rearrange what’s left

After narrowing down your necessities, take a look at your apartment for hidden storage opportunities. Each room can yield more space than you may think upon the first inspection. Taking a close and thoughtful look can help you find the right place for all your belongings, even in a small apartment.

Bedroom

bedroombedroom

There are two areas in your bedroom that can be great for storage — your closet and under your bed. Maximizing space in your closet is possible with a variety of storage ideas. From special hangers to repurposing household items, your closet can hold twice as much stuff as you think.

  • Use vertical space: Stack shirts or pants on shelves
  • Shower curtain hangers: Install these in your closet to hold scarves, belts or even tank tops freeing up drawer space in your bedroom for bulkier items
  • Over-the-door shoe organizer: Less stuff on the ground helps your small space feel less cluttered
  • Under-bed storage: Even if you have a bed that’s lower to the ground, special storage bins exist that will slide under. Store your off-season clothing here to free up more space for the items you need.

Bathroom

bathroombathroom

Tips for organizing small spaces are handiest in the bathroom. It’s most likely the tightest space in a small apartment, but there’s room to spare in there, too. Overlooked areas ideal for extra storage include above the toilet and inside cabinets.

  • Over-the-toilet shelf: Since it slides in around the toilet, you’re not adding to the footprint within the bathroom. This is a great place to hold toiletries that don’t fit on the sink.
  • Over-the-door hooks: Perfect for wet towels or bathrobes
  • Shower caddies: Hang these over your shower head to hold soap and shampoo
  • Small storage containers on the inside of your bathroom cabinets: A great place for your hairdryer and straightener
  • A wine rack or special shelf for fresh towels: Putting them up on the wall makes sure they aren’t taking up valuable closet or cabinet space. It also looks decorative if you incorporate towels in vibrant colors.

Kitchen

kitchenkitchen

The best way to increase storage space in your kitchen is to add more counter space.

  • Make use of all free space: Large bowls have a lot of space in them. Condense your Tupperware or dishes by putting smaller objects inside of larger ones.
  • Appliances for storage: No cabinets, no problem! Your oven or microwave is a great place to keep dishes, pots and pans out of sight.
  • Portable chef’s cart: Put cutlery or even small kitchen appliances under it, then wheel the cart near an outlet when you have to plug in something. It gives you an extra surface to prep food, and you can move it out of the way when you’re done.
  • Wall hooks and over-the-door storage: Hang large utensils, pots and pans, cleaning supplies and even pantry staples

Living room

living roomliving room

Most likely the largest room in your apartment, the living room can serve as a catch-all for the stuff you need to store that won’t naturally go somewhere else.

  • Decorative boxes: They can fit under coffee tables or desks, and can hold almost anything. Store magazines, board games and puzzles, along with any personal items you want to keep but don’t need to display.
  • Book cart: If your couch is set up against a wall, consider moving it forward a little bit to create even more storage space. Slide in a cart to hold all your books in a way that’s easy to access.
  • Portable desk: Living rooms in small apartments often double as an office. Make the space less cluttered with the convenience of wheeling your small, portable workstation back into a corner when it’s not in use.

Hallways

hallwayhallway

While not technically a room, don’t dismiss the potential for storage in seemingly useless spaces. Your hallways are the perfect location for things like coats, shoes or umbrellas.

  • Coat rack: Give your guests a spot to hang their coats when they visit, rather than tossing them on a chair or your couch
  • Shoe cubby: Clear some space off the floor and keep your shoes organized

A word about shelving

Small storage shelves can go in almost any space in your home. They’re a universal space-saving device because they turn wall space into storage space. Especially in corners, which can feel like unusable areas of your apartment, shelves can save the day.

Trade in the cute, framed pictures you’ve put up on one wall and install shelves for instant storage. Deeper shelves can hold small bins, masking the appearance of anything that’s not so cute, and special corner shelving units nestle in nicely. There are so many shelving ideas out there, it’ll be easy to incorporate a few in your apartment.

After everything gets put away

Now that you’ve found a spot in your apartment for all your stuff, it’s time to decorate. Just because you have a small space doesn’t mean every nook and cranny has to go to holding stuff.

Leave a little room to make things pretty and transform your small space into the perfect home.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Cheap Mother’s Day Gifts Under $20 Including Shipping

While some families feel safer reuniting for Mother’s Day this year with vaccination programs rolling out across the country, others are still keeping their distance as they wait for everyone to get shots.

Pandemic aside, some of us live across the country or state from dear old Mom and can’t treat her to brunch. Whatever’s keeping you and Mom apart this Mother’s Day, May 9, there are plenty of ways you can show her you love and miss her. Not only that, but you can do it all while going easy on your wallet.

To help, we’ve put together a list of 20 Mother’s Day gifts under $20 you can order online. And that $20 includes shipping — free for some items.

Mother’s Day Gifts That Will Help Her Get Outdoors

The outdoors is a safer place to hang out than inside thanks to the coronavirus.

Pickleball Glove for Mom

Pickleball is the hottest team sport these days. This is the perfect season to play socially-distanced and outdoors. If your mom is seriously into this sport, you can pick her up a brand-name pickleball glove on Amazon for between $18 and $20. If you have Prime membership, shipping is free, keeping you under budget.

Annual Flower Bulbs

Does Mom love gardening?

Give her a gift that keeps on giving with annual bulbs. Plant these flowers once, and they will bloom year after year. Bulbs that need a freeze to bloom (iris, daffodils, tulips) are typically put in the ground in the fall before it gets too hard for digging and they pop up and blossom in spring. The following bulbs can be planted in the spring to bloom in the summer.

Gladiolus Flower Bulbs

Gladiolus are beautiful and you can get a lot of them even on a budget. You can pick your color, ordering a bag in white or purple for  $13.95 on Walmart’s platform. Shipping is free.

Lily Flower Bulbs

You can get about three lily bulbs for under $20. Some options from Walmart sellers include:

These options run between $13.95 and $15.99 and come with free shipping.

Gift Certificate to a Local Garden Center

Maybe Mom doesn’t have space for a garden, but does love having flowers and plants around. In this case, consider getting her a gift certificate to her local garden center for $20.

There’s an added bonus to sending your card on Mother’s Day; when she goes shopping after the holiday, excess inventory will be marked down dramatically, giving her more bang for her buck.

A blue butterfly stands out amongst a group of red butterflies.
Getty Images

Butterfly Habitat

Butterfly habitats may be marketed towards children, but Mom can enjoy one, too! This kit from Target is $19.99, and comes with a habitat and voucher for live caterpillars — which ship separately. Your order should qualify for free shipping.

Mom will be able to watch the caterpillars as they build their chrysalises and grow into butterflies, eventually releasing them into the wild. Bonus points for sending a card with a cheesy analogy about how she helped you grow into a butterfly, and what a great job she did.

Sweets & Culinary Gift Ideas for Moms

Mother’s Day is a great time to shower your mom with sweets. Or, if Mom’s great in the kitchen, it’s a fun time to celebrate those skills with gifts.

Personalized Recipe Cards

Mom’s a great cook. Everyone’s always asking her for recipes. Pick her up a set of personalized recipe cards on Etsy so she’ll get full credit when she shares her skills. This set costs $10.75 and ships free to the US.

Heart-Shaped Pan

We’ve all been cooking at home this past year — perhaps way more than normal. Turn the mundane fun with this heart-shaped pan from Ecolution on Amazon.com. Whether your mother’s making pancakes or eggs, she’ll appreciate that Ecolution’s products are eco-friendly yet durable. You’ll appreciate that it clocks in at just $12.51 and ships free with Prime membership.

Fruit Infusion Pitcher

We haven’t just been eating at home a lot more often — we’ve been drinking at home a lot more often, too. This fruit infusion pitcher is great for making mimosas and flavored water alike. It is $19.99 on Amazon.com and ships free with Prime membership.

Chocolate

Believe it or not, you can get a fair amount of good chocolate for under $20. The “ G-Cube” from Godiva comes with an assortment of 22 flavors, and costs $11.95. With shipping, you can expect to pay around $19.95.

Delivery from a Local Bakery

Ask your mom about her favorite local bakery recommendations. Then, place an order for delivery with them on Mother’s Day. This allows you to not only get mom a gift, but also support small businesses in her community.

If the delivery fee would put you over budget and Mom is vaccinated, you can find another way. You could likely request curbside pickup or she could take a very quick trip inside while double-masked to pick up the treats herself.

Self-Care Gifts for Mother’s Day

We all need a little more self-care these days. Help Mom relax with these soothing Mother’s Day gift ideas until you can see each other again.

Comfortable Sleep Mask

A lot of people have experienced insomnia throughout this pandemic. If Mom’s one of them, you might want to consider helping her get some better shut eye. This silk satin sleep mask from Kessom on Walmart’s platform not only comes in under budget with no shipping costs, but also comes with a matching scrunchie and storage pouch.

Shea Butter Replenishing Bar Soap

This shea butter soap, infused with essential oils, lots of benefits. Rebourne Home + Body says it can:

  • Fight inflammation.
  • Heal chapped, dull or prematurely aging skin.
  • Fight eczema.
  • Improve skin elasticity.
  • Increase blood circulation.

Rebourne sells high-quality bath and beauty products. This one will cost you around $19.45 to send to mom after accounting for shipping costs.

A woman puts cucumbers over her eyes as she sits up with a charcoal facial mask on her.
Getty Images

Luxe Face Masks

Charmed Bath & Body offers several different face masks available via Etsy. You can choose from:

  • Matcha
  • Rose clay.
  • White clay
  • Charcoal
  • Turmeric

It should cost you around $15.95 in all to purchase and ship one of these mask powders for Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day Coloring Book

Give Mom an opportunity to de-stress with this Mother’s Day coloring book from Amazon. Each page comes with intricate drawings to color in and encouraging and cute quotes about motherhood.

This book is $14.99 and ships free for Prime members.

Blue Light Glasses

We’ve all been spending a lot more time in front of screens over the past year. That means we’ve been spending a lot more time staring at blue light, which can cause migraines, damage our vision and even throw off circadian rhythms, our natural sleep-wake cycles.

Help Mom out with some self-care she didn’t even know she needed with these blue light blocking glasses from Nordstrom. They’re only $15 and shipping is free.

Sentimental Mother’s Day Gifts Under $20

These sweet, mom-centric products will highlight your relationship as you take a trip down memory lane.

Tell Me Your Story Book (Grandma Edition)

You know what’s been happening a lot less often thanks to the pandemic and social distancing? We aren’t telling each other as many stories on a regular basis. That includes grandmas telling their own life stories and family histories to their grandchildren.

Compensate for the loss over the past year with this memory journal. It’s available for $10 on Amazon.com with free shipping for Prime members.

Tell Me Your Story Book (Mom Edition)

Don’t have kids, but love the memory book idea?

Fear not. There is a version of these products for children to give directly to their moms — no procreation required. This daily journal of childhood memories will run you $12, once again with free shipping for Amazon Prime members.

You & Me Mom Journal

Want to make the memory journal thing a two way street?

This journal from Uncommon Goods can be sent back and forth between you and your mother. Each page has prompts encouraging the two of you to reflect on your life memories and love together over the years. It will run you $13, and should come in just under $20 after accounting for shipping costs.

Photo Book

There’s nothing moms love more than pictures of their kids and grandkids . Photo books can often be cumbersome to create, or come with deceptive discounts and “deals” that don’t account for exorbitant shipping costs.

You can get around all that by creating a book with Google Photos. You can easily import all the pictures already on your Google account, and can create a 20-page, soft-cover photo book that’s sure to put a smile on her face for just $13.95 including shipping.

Cash

You’re shopping on a tight budget, so your wallet is probably thin right now. She might not want to admit it, but money might be tight for your mom in this pandemic, too.

Instead of buying her physical presents, consider sending her the cash. If Mom’s on Venmo or CashApp, you can keep things completely socially distant. Be sure to send a card or heartfelt note.

Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. She blogs at femmefrugality.com. 



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Full House? Maximize Your Space With These Tips

Make a call to 1-800-Got Junk? Their minimum fee is 9 to remove and dispose of about as much stuff as fits in a pickup truck. There are also local, independent junk removal companies that offer competitive pricing. Or haul it away yourself, donating the usable items to your favorite charity for resale.
“The VIGDA corner room divider can be easily assembled following the provided instructions,” an Ikea spokeswoman said. The VIGDA consists of a track that is attached to the ceiling, with curtains that hang to the floor. It costs while Ikea drapes start at .99 a set.
“He literally took a flat king sheet and drilled screws through it into one corner of the living room,” his mother, Alyssa Brown said. “He made this little triangular room of his own.”

A completes his work from an office set up in his closet at home as his kids spend time in his room beside him. This photo illustrates one way to maximize small spaces: put your office in your closet.
Getty Images

5 Tips for How to Maximize Your Space 

I considered adding air conditioning to the garage, which had two big windows, but that was way too expensive. I thought about converting the dining room to their room, but there would be no way to get to the kitchen without going through it.

1. A cleaned-out closet becomes an office nook 

When I got divorced several years ago, we sold our four-bedroom home and I rented a two-bedroom house in a great neighborhood with a lot of character and big yard. With two daughters away at college and a high-school-aged son rotating between his dad and me, I really didn’t need more than two bedrooms.

  • Remove all the shelving, except for perhaps the top shelf for storage.
  • Have your child pick out a color and paint the inside together.
  • Measure the width and depth of the closet then get a piece of scrap countertop or plywood cut at Lowe’s, Home Depot or an independent cabinet and kitchen shop. This could cost $50 to $100 depending on the size and material.
  • Nail wooden slats or 2-by-4s around the perimeter of your closet about 30 inches above the floor.
  • Place the desktop on the supports.
  • Add a bulletin board, plastic file holders, stapler and a cup for markers and pencils. Let your child decorate his or her “classroom” with a few photos or printouts of their favorite heroes and heroines.

2. Got Junk? Then you probably have space.

I put my dresser in the dining room, and my clothes in the hall closet. For a summer when the girls were home, I slept on the sofa in the living room or on a pull-out in the screened porch.

Pro Tip
If you are feeling crowded in your home and considering buying something bigger, it’s scary these days to see how much just a little more space will cost. The median sales price of a home was up 17% for the four weeks ending April 11 compared to the same period in 2020, according to Redfin, the nationwide real estate brokerage.

Katherine Snow Smith is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

3. A sheet and a drill can create a room

But disappointed would-be homebuyers feeling priced out of the market can make simple changes where they currently live to maximize space and feel less cramped.
“The BEKANT screen provides privacy and absorbs sound to create division within the room,” she added. It costs 9 and is 59 inches high and 32 inches wide.
Here are some ways to create new spaces in your existing house or condo and enjoy it more while waiting for prices to drop. Who knows, you may decide there’s no place like home.
Is it time to pare down your belongings? Use these tips on how to minimize your stuff.

IKEA has organizational devices for small spaces such as the VIDGA, which is a curtain-like room divider and a BEKANT, which is a narrow standing desk.
IKEA has organizational products for small spaces, such as the VIDGA, left, which is a curtain room divider and a BEKANT, right, which is a screen that divides a room, gives privacy and reduces sound. Photo courtesy of IKEA

4. Ikea to the rescue

If a closet or a spare bedroom is packed to the brim with a broken vacuum cleaner or rusty exercise bike covered in old clothes, getting rid of all that offers more space for humans.
The rest of the house was decorated with my stuff, but they still had a room of their own and a place they felt was theirs.
“The MICKE Corner Workstation can be placed anywhere in the room. With shelving and a magnetic board, you can organize this workstation in your own unique way,” the Ikea representative said. It costs 9, and can be placed so that it creates two walls against a corner with a small opening to “get in” to the desk-and-shelf unit.
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Ikea has several products from to 9 that can create partitions or turn a corner into an office or bedroom.

5. Rethink and Reconfigure 

Here are some ways to maximize space and carve out individual rooms for a lot less than adding on or leasing a bigger apartment.
Ultimately, I made the master bedroom their room. I slept in it 90% of the time since they weren’t home often, but it was filled with all their “stuff” and their clothes.
But I struggled with my daughters having to move out of the house where they grew up and all their “stuff” being packed away in boxes in the attic. (“Stuff” defined: photos, embroidered pillows, framed record albums, twinkling lights, artwork, music boxes, stuffed animals, an old bubble gum machine, etc. It’s the “stuff” that makes a room, your room.)
This “corner room” could also house a play space, Lego table or easel in a living room or kitchen, offering privacy to a child and keeping toys out of sight in the main room.
The sheet supplied one wall, and the existing walls completed the rest of his triangular space that had enough room for a comfy chair, end table and a fan. The fan helped drown out the noise of the rest of the three-bedroom apartment. He used earphones when playing his XBox to contain his noise.
A screened porch, sunroom or dining room may be put to better use as a bedroom or classroom when everyone is home. Eat in the kitchen or at a coffee table, and make that dining room into one or even two rooms for sleeping, schooling or working.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
When Beau Brown was a high school senior during the first year of the pandemic, he did school at home alongside his two siblings and his parents, who were working at home. Feeling cramped, he found a way to carve out a little space for himself.  But his easy fix could create a beloved hideaway for a kid for any age. <!–

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Shelving units can be secured on one end to a wall and stick out into a room to divide it into two spaces. One KALLAX shelving system is almost five feet high and three feet wide for . Two of these would make a good-sized wall down the middle of your kids’ shared bedroom, or section off a corner of the living room for an office.

13 Ways a Food Vacuum Sealer Can Save You Money on Groceries

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. Virtually no market has been left untouched, and that’s especially true of Americans’ grocery shopping and food-related habits.

People are eating at home more often and even baking their own bread. And food preservation systems like vacuum sealers are surging in popularity, according to The Business of Business magazine. It makes sense. With all the stocking up we have to do to limit the number of grocery trips we take, we now need a way to keep all our spoils from spoiling.

With an initial investment of between $20 and $100 or more, depending on type and quality, plus the cost of vacuum-seal bags or storage containers, it costs a little to get started. But ultimately, they can save you much more money in the long run.

Ways a Vacuum Sealer Can Save You Money

One of the selling points of vacuum sealing is that it can help you save money. But can it really save you enough to justify its expense? That depends on what you’re currently doing to save on food and other goods. But if any of these cost-cutting measures would help, the vacuum sealer is probably worth much more than its weight in gold.

1. Eliminate Food Waste

Food waste is a significant problem in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans discard between 30% and 40% of their food.

A separate 2020 study published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (and covered by Forbes) backed that up, finding that the average household wasted 31.9%. Those researchers estimated this waste to cost the average household $1,866 per year. A family that can cut food waste in half can save nearly $1,000 per year.

And a vacuum sealer can help you do that. For example, you can buy a large package of meat, cook half of it, and vacuum-seal the rest for later in the week.

You can do something similar with other foods, like fresh fruit and vegetables or cheese. Use only the amount you need, then seal the rest for later, and you’ll finally manage to get through every last bite before it goes bad. But wrap cheese in parchment or wax paper before sealing it to absorb the cheese’s natural moisture (which can cause it to deteriorate) and prevent sticking.

For foods you plan to reach for frequently, such as cheese and fruit, use a plastic vacuum-seal container or reusable plastic bag with a handheld model. For foods you plan to use all at once, such as meat, you can use a traditional countertop model with bag rolls, which allow you to create custom-size bags.

2. Buy in Bulk

If you’ve ever been to a warehouse store like Costco, you’re familiar with the absolutely massive packages of food they sell. Buying meat in 20-pound bulk packages can be cheaper than buying it in a grocery store, but what family can eat 20 pounds of beef before it goes bad?

There are just some things you shouldn’t buy in bulk if you can’t eat them quickly enough. But a vacuum sealer changes the game by extending the shelf life of what you buy.

Using a countertop sealer and custom bags from rolls, you can seal and store many kinds of food long term if you follow the best method for each.

  • Meat. Seal meat in meal-size portions. According to United Kingdom vacuum-sealer company Grutto, vacuum-sealed meat lasts up to two weeks in the refrigerator and between two and three years in the freezer. According to FoodSafety.gov, that’s double to triple the time compared to storing without the seal. How long a specific meat lasts depends on the variety. But in general, discard any meat that smells off, has undergone a color change, or feels slimy or sticky.
  • Beans. According to USA Emergency Supply, dry beans can stay good for up to 10 years at room temperature. If you vacuum-seal the beans, which reduces the amount of moisture that can reach them, that can extend their shelf by another 10 years.
  • Rice. White rice has a long shelf life, but brown rice can go bad within six months at room temperature. According to USA Emergency Supply, vacuum-sealing brown rice can extend its life to as long as two years and extend white rice’s shelf life to a full decade.
  • Flours and Meals. Flour usually has a shelf life of about a year, but USA Emergency Supply notes that vacuum-sealing it can make it last for up to five years at room temperature. To seal flour, place it in your freezer for four days to a week to kill any insects or bugs in it. Then, place the flour in a brown paper bag. Label the bag if desired and fold the top over, but don’t roll it down (air must be able to escape). Place the paper bag in a vacuum-seal bag and seal it. Wrapping it in a paper bag first prevents flour from getting sucked into the sealer. Note that the vacuum-sealing process compresses your flour, so this method is best used by those who measure their flour by weight (ounces or grams) rather than volume (cups). You can use the same approach to seal other dry powdered or ground goods, such as cornmeal, corn flour, or breadcrumbs.
  • Cheese. Wrap your cheese in some parchment or wax paper to absorb its natural moisture before sealing. According to online cheese seller Cheesy Place, this storage method can extend cheese’s freshness by months or longer. However, soft cheeses don’t tend to freeze well.

Before you run out and stock up on everything on this list, note that you’re only saving money if you’re getting a good deal on things you’d buy and use anyway.

3. DIY Dump Recipes

Cooking after a long workday is a daunting task. Sometimes, all you want is something simple with as little prep work as possible.

On days when chopping, slicing, and cutting sounds like a colossal chore, dump recipes can help you put a home-cooked meal on the table with minimal effort. All you have to do is dump the ingredients into a casserole dish or slow cooker or scatter them on a sheet pan, no other prep required.

With a vacuum sealer, you can make DIY dump-meal packets and toss them in the fridge or freezer until you need them.

4. Batch Cooking

Mornings can be chaotic, especially if multiple people are trying to get out of the house. But taking some time to batch-cook ensures you have a filling breakfast that doesn’t involve golden arches, even when you’re short on time.

Batch cooking involves spending a day or two, usually over the weekend, whipping up large batches of food for the week or month ahead. And a vacuum sealer makes your batch-cooked food last even longer.

For example, spend a Saturday putting together some vacuum-sealed breakfast pouches with nuke-and-go meals like breakfast burritos, pancakes, or mini-quiches for days when time just isn’t on your side. Just pre-freeze anything that might squash when sealed, such as rolls. You can then store them in either the freezer or fridge.

And batch cooking isn’t just suitable for breakfast foods.

At lunch, being limited to an hour-long break makes it tough to avoid popping out for fast food every day. But things like hand pies, soup, chili, and stir-fries all keep well in a vacuum-sealed packet. Freeze hand pies before sealing to keep them from squashing. For liquids like soups and chilies, pour the contents into a regular zip-close bag and freeze them flat. Then remove them from the zip-close bag, and vacuum-seal them, placing them back in the freezer for long-term storage or in the fridge for use that week.

If you store them in the freezer, transfer them to the refrigerator the night before. By the time lunch rolls around the next day, they should be mostly defrosted, and a microwave can finish the job.

You can even use a vacuum sealer to batch-cook weeknight freezer meals for evenings when cooking just isn’t an option. Batch-cook large quantities of dishes like lasagna, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, or meatballs for spaghetti or subs, and vacuum-seal them in meal-size portions.

For lasagna, meatloaf, and mashed potatoes, pre-freeze them in smaller containers before removing them to a vacuum-sealer bag.

5. Long-Term Leftovers

Cooking large meals means having leftovers. But it can get boring to eat the same thing repeatedly, especially if you make a considerable amount.

Having a vacuum sealer means you can seal and store these leftovers for weeks or months instead of days like you can in the refrigerator.

You can also freeze leftovers into homemade TV dinners. For example, instead of freezing a leftover half of meatloaf, quart of mashed potatoes, and leftover veggies separately, put enough of each for one person into several vacuum-seal storage containers. All you have to do when you want something easy to eat is take it out of the freezer and reheat. They’re perfect for lunches or hectic school nights when you’re eating dinner solo.

6. Buy Food in Season

If you visit the grocery store, you can buy many fruits and vegetables year-round, but you may notice the price and quality of some foods varies throughout the year. Even though modern supply chains mean you can buy most food items any time of year, fruits and veggies are seasonal products.

With a vacuum sealer, you can buy food while it’s in season — or pick it from your own garden — when it’s at its cheapest and freshest. When you seal it, you preserve its freshness and quality.

Before vacuum-sealing vegetables, blanch them by boiling them for a few minutes, then dropping them into an ice bath. Dry them thoroughly, and place them in a vacuum-seal bag. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, blanching helps preserve the veggies’ flavor, color, and texture.

According to Food Vac Bags, sealed and frozen vegetables stay fresh for two or three years in the freezer compared to the normal eight to 12 months the National Center for Food Preservation says vegetables can stay frozen without vacuum sealing.

To vacuum-seal fresh fruit, start by cutting (if necessary) and freezing the fruit on a flat baking sheet. That prevents it from getting squashed during the sealing process. Place the frozen fruit into bags (preferably in single-use serving sizes) and seal. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, sealed frozen fruit can stay good for up to 12 months. And according to VacMaster, sealed fruit stays fresh for up to two weeks in the fridge.

7. Store Herbs & Spices

Dried herbs and spices have a long shelf life, but they tend to lose their flavor relatively quickly. If you compare the smell and taste of a new spice jar with one that’s a year or two old, you’ll notice the difference.

People use some spices frequently throughout the year, but others are more seasonal. For example, cloves are a popular component in wintery dishes but may not appear as often during other seasons.

Vacuum-sealing spices can help preserve their freshness longer. If you notice you haven’t used certain spices for a while, place them in a small paper bag with the top folded or a plastic zip-close bag with a couple of small holes in it, then place that bag in a larger vacuum-seal bag. Pre-bagging prevents the spice from getting sucked into the vacuum, which could damage the machine. You can unseal them when you need them and don’t have to worry about them losing flavor over time.

You can also use a vacuum sealer to preserve fresh herbs as an alternative to store-bought dried ones. First, blanch the herbs by dropping them into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds, then immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water. That helps them stay fresh for even longer in a vacuum-sealed packet. Just make sure you let the herbs dry completely before sealing them.

Note that herbs might not look nice after vacuum sealing, so they won’t be good garnishes. Vacuum-sealing just preserves their flavor. According to FoodSaver, frozen, vacuum-sealed herbs can stay fresh for months.

8. Save Space in Your Kitchen

Vacuum-sealing eliminates a lot of bulk. That can save you space in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, meaning you can worry less about space.

For example, vacuum-sealed meats, like ground beef, can have a much slimmer profile than meat packaged in the Styrofoam trays from the grocery store. Repackaging them in your own vacuum-seal bags also lets you control the quantity and shape of each chub.

If you like soup and chili, you can vacuum-seal loads of it without taking up too much room. To save space, spoon it into a zip-close bag, seal it carefully, and place it on a flat surface, like a baking sheet, to freeze. You can then remove the frozen meal from the zip-close bag and seal it in a custom bag. That gives you a flat package that’s easy to store in the freezer, either by stacking multiple bags or storing them straight up and down, like a file folder. The flat freezing method also makes it defrost quickly.

Sealing things like beans or grains lets you customize the way you store your dry goods. Some of these products come in awkward packages that are floppy and cumbersome in tight storage spaces. Vacuum-sealing pulls out all the air, creating a sturdy package that doesn’t shift as you search for other goods. Use reusable bags with a handheld sealer so you can grab what you need and reseal. Or you can use a vacuum-seal canister for even greater stability.

You can also seal bags of frozen vegetables or fruits in a single layer to reduce the amount of space they take up in your freezer. That makes it easier to keep them out of the way until you need them. You can also try sealing vegetables in smaller servings so you can use them in a meal without having to reseal what you don’t need.

9. Marinate Faster

Marinating meat or vegetables before cooking adds flavor. But marinating takes precious time. Many recipes call for placing food in the marinade hours before you cook — or even the night before — hardly ideal for on-the-go parents or professionals.

Vacuum-sealing the food in plastic bags can help you marinate it much faster. Make your marinade and pour it over the food into a custom bag made from a bag roll, then vacuum-seal it. With this method, marination takes only half an hour, though you can leave it longer if you want more flavor or tenderness.

When marinating, avoid letting liquid get into your vacuum sealer. A popular strategy is the paper towel method. Just put a paper towel between the food and the top of the bag. The towel catches liquid before it gets sucked into the vacuum sealer. As an alternative to paper products, you can use cheesecloth or something similar.

10. Sous Vide Cooking

Sous vide cooking relies on cooking food sealed in glass jars or plastic bags in a water bath at a precisely regulated temperature. You can use a sous vide cooker without a vacuum sealer, but vacuum-sealing yields the best results.

Using a sous vide cooker makes it easy to cook meat to the exact doneness you desire. Since you can set the temperature of the water bath precisely, the food never heats above a set temperature. That means getting the perfect level of doneness every time you cook with no risk of going over. If you like, you can even give it a quick sear on high heat after it’s done.

That’s fantastic news for those pricey steaks you splurged on. But it can also save you money by letting you buy cheaper cuts of meat. According to Serious Eats, sous vide’s low and slow cooking with consistent temperatures tenderizes the meat.

Sous vide machines are perfect for summer cooking since they don’t heat your home the way ovens do. Plus, you can keep the sous vide running while you’re not home.

You can use it to cook almost anything that benefits from cooking at precise temperatures, such as eggs or meat.

And with sous vide, you can cook your sides along with your mains. For example, toss some sliced potatoes, smashed garlic, milk, and butter for mashed potatoes into one vacuum-seal pack and some broccoli, olive oil, salt, and pepper into another and cook those along with a salmon steak or pork roast.

You can even sous vide foods straight from the freezer.

11. Waterproof Your Valuables & Emergency Supplies

If you’re planning a trip to the beach, expecting a large storm, or simply want to keep your valuables safe, you can use your vacuum sealer to waterproof them.

For example, you can seal things like important documents, your kids’ priceless artwork, and comic books or magazines. But be careful, as the vacuum could transfer the ink to other surfaces, make pages stick together, and crimp the edges. Instead, place them between cardboard sheets to prevent damage, then slide them into a custom-size bag from a roll and use the seal-only function. To ensure they’re also protected from fire, place them inside a fire-resistant envelope before sealing.

Vacuum-sealing is also a safe and efficient way to store emergency supplies like matches, candles, batteries, and flashlights. If a storm knocks out your power or damages your home, you’ll have dry equipment you can use while you wait for help. You can also seal away some cash so you have emergency funds to use during a disaster, when credit card networks may be down.

12. Camping & Hiking

Packing for a hike or family camping trip can be challenging, especially if you plan to stay overnight. You can only fit so much in your backpack without it becoming overly bulky, and you want to minimize weight as much as possible.

The vacuum-pack method works best for consumables or things you can otherwise leave on the trail or at the campsite unless you want to use reusable bags and pack a handheld sealer in your backpack.

A vacuum sealer draws the air from your provisions’ packaging, making it easier to carry more supplies. As a bonus, it weatherproofs the things in your bag so you can keep essentials like food and clothing dry, even if you’re hiking or camping in the rain. And it’s cheaper than buying larger bags or more expensive waterproofing equipment.

13. Save Storage Space in Every Room

The kitchen isn’t the only place storage space is at a premium. Vacuum sealers can help you pack away things you don’t use frequently and reduce the amount of space they take up.

If you want to vacuum-seal bulky items, like comforters and winter coats, you must buy special bags that work with your vacuum cleaner. But you can use your regular countertop kitchen vacuum sealer for smaller items.

For example, you can use a vacuum sealer to store seasonal items, like heavy winter socks, mittens and gloves, and scarves, until it gets cold again. You can just put the bags at the bottom of your sock drawer, where they take up a fraction of the space.

You can also use a sealer to seal things for backup or long-term storage, such as old baby clothing you plan to reuse for your next child or extra tea towels, handkerchiefs, or bulk-purchased cotton balls to protect them from water damage and pests, even if you store them in the garage.


Types of Vacuum Sealers

Before you buy a vacuum sealer, it’s crucial you understand the pros and cons of the different types of sealers and the kinds of containers they work with.

  • Countertop. Traditional countertop vacuum sealers are the most versatile. But they need space on your countertop, at least temporarily, which is a negative if countertop or storage space is already at a premium. Countertop sealers are designed to work with bag rolls, which allow you to create custom-size bags. But most also work with generic sealable containers and reusable bags via a hose you can attach to the unit. Countertop vacuum sealers tend to have the most efficient seal of the three when used with the bag rolls. But if you need to access something frequently, such as cheese or snacks, you have to create and seal a new bag each time. And they’re clunky to use with containers and bags if you don’t plan to keep it on your counter. Countertop sealers usually cost between $25 and $50 for a cheaper model, such as the NutriChef, up to $200 or more for a high-end model like the FoodSaver V4840.
  • Handheld. Smaller handheld vacuum sealers don’t take up much space. However, they only work with specially designed boxes or bags that are more expensive than generic vacuum-seal bag rolls. Handheld sealers often run between $20 for a budget unit and $30 for a more powerful sealer like the MXBold. That said, they’re not as powerful as countertop models, and some air will eventually get into the package after you seal it due to points of entry and escape in the sealing hole and zipper. That makes them best for short-term sealing or foods you reach for frequently.
  • Specialized Vacuum Sealers. There are a lot of specialized sealers that are designed to fit different needs. One example of this is the Vacuvita, which starts at $300. It sits on your countertop full time and is intended for frequent sealing and unsealing. It’s also more suitable for things like bread and chips, which a traditional sealer would crush. But it doesn’t lend itself to long-term storage. Then there are chamber vacuum sealers, like the VacMaster chamber sealer. They’re expensive but highly efficient and quieter than many other sealers. They’re great for people who want to customize how they seal food or who have lots of things to seal at once. It can also vacuum-seal liquid like marinades and soups for long-term storage. Chamber sealers are often commercial equipment, but there are comparatively less expensive prosumer (professional-consumer) models for home use.

The solution you seek may rely on having more than one kind of sealer. But you’ll most certainly need more than one type of storage solution. And there are several types to choose from.

  • Bag Rolls. Traditional countertop vacuum sealers work with special bag rolls, which are customizable. They’re essentially long tubes of plastic. You use the vacuum sealer’s seal function to melt the plastic together on one open end of the bag, cut the bag to the size you want, and fill it. Then you use the vacuum-and-seal function to pull out the air and seal the remaining open end. They’re also relatively inexpensive. However, you can’t reuse them, which means you need to restock regularly. These are optimum for long-term storage because they have the best seal and lose less vacuum over time than any other storage method.
  • Reusable Bags. Reusable bags are a fixed size and more expensive than bag rolls. But you can use them more than once, which can save you money in the long run. They’re suitable for foods you plan to use often because you can reseal them rather than discard them and start over like you have to do with bags from rolls. But they aren’t as impervious as the custom bags. The sealing hole and zipper are potential points of air introduction, and they can lose vacuum over time, meaning they’re not ideal for long-term storage. They can be a pain to clean and fully dry, and it’s best to avoid using them for things like raw meat or foods that can stain, such as tomato sauce.
  • Specialized Mason Jar Lids. You can buy special vacuum-seal Mason jar lids to seal jarred foods. For long-term storage, these are best for staples like cereal and dry goods. Vacuum-sealing with them isn’t meant to take the place of proper canning techniques. But they’re fine for short-term storage of things like soup and chili.
  • Plastic Storage Containers. For leftovers and meal prep, you can’t beat vacuum-seal storage containers. They’re expensive but reusable. But over time, these containers’ seals may weaken, especially if the initial seal isn’t good or there’s too much moisture in the container.

Just ensure whatever container you buy works with your sealer model.


Final Word

Vacuum sealers are useful kitchen gadgets that can help you save space and money. However, they’re not one-size-fits-all. You may even need a couple of different types of vacuum sealers to meet your needs.

For example, a countertop model that works with bag rolls can help you vacuum-seal foods for long-term storage. But you’ll probably prefer to keep a handheld model for everyday use, like storing leftovers in the fridge or sealing cheese or deli meat for lunches.

With vacuum sealers, the possibilities are endless. You can vacuum-seal almost anything, so you might find new and interesting ways to save space and safely store things throughout your home.

Source: moneycrashers.com