Tips from a Reforming Pack Rat

This is an organizing tip from a reforming pack rat that will also save you lots of money. It is a fun challenging idea. We love it!

My husband and I made a decision not to buy anything for one entire year except bare necessities, for example gas, water, groceries, unless we could exchange it for something we already had, but never used. (People, you know who you are!)


Use a large plastic container to store all of your receipts for purchases made within the last 3 months or more, for example clothing store and grocery and home depot, Walmart and other store receipts. Keep it in a easily accessible location, so you can develop the habit of emptying your receipts when you come in.

Pick a closet or dresser to clean out. Recently I found $75.00 worth of clothing from the same store that I had never worn, purchased in August. Here it is January!

I put all of the clothing with receipts in a storage container with a lid, and just checked it if I was running errands (paying bills) and knew I'd be near one of those stores. I saw a skirt that I loved and asked when it would be marked down. Turns out, it was the following week. I traded it in and got a gorgeous denim skirt, which I wear and cost the full amount of my original purchase.


If by chance, you don't have your receipt, most stores will give you credit at the current cost of that item. Having your receipt makes it easier to prove what you spent and less stressful.

What a wonderful reward for my efforts, cleaning and decluttering!

This even works with buying books. I have a ton of them at home, half I have read the others I got from yard sales. There is a wonderful trade in program at a second hand Bookstore in a nearby town. I took in enough books to have credit built up of $50.00.

I kept a list of books I wanted to get and kept it in my purse. The next time I wanted to get some books, it cost me nothing but the time it took to clean off the shelves at home.

Not only did this improve the Feng (how do you say) Shui, giving us less clutter. It also helped us stick to our commitment not to purchase impulsively.


I could go on forever with ways that we have saved by adopting this clean and trade policy in our household.

Lastly, I wanted to paint the kitchen and we all know that can be costly. I took three different colored paints and mixed them to get the desired color I wanted (Salmon). Warning do not do this without first calling the paint dept of your local paint store or Home Depot. Or you might be forced to spend money to fix the error.

After calling HD, I opened three cans of paint and began to slowly mix them with the off white that I had. These paints had been in the closet for months! My kitchen looks so cute! And it cost me all of $15.00 (spent last year) to paint. I used to shop in the Oops section of the paint department. Now those cans of Oops have turned my kitchen to FAB! Not only did organizing the paint closet help me realize I had enough supplies to paint the entire house, it helped to create one great color out of three not so great.


Think collecting receipts does not pay? We recently realized we have $1,000.00 in merchandise from Costco that we never used, from our wedding. Look out Costco, here we come!

By Felicia from Apache Junction

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By Jeanne in Maine (Guest Post)
February 10, 20060 found this helpful

I also decided not to make any purchases this year,going to use all my crafting supplies that I have puchased though out the years for as many of my families gifts.........hope to save oodles of money and clean out my over flowing stash.good luck in your quest.keep us posted on yor progress

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By Arthur (Guest Post)
March 4, 20060 found this helpful

Simplifying, organizing, decluttering, planning. . . Can bring peace of mind. They save you time and money too.


What is it that you need exactly? You can find out more about how to simplify your life at

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By Karen (Guest Post)
March 6, 20060 found this helpful

Great tips! But--is it actually possible to return/exchange things more than 30 days after the date of purchase?? I'm absolutely going to try that!!

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February 24, 20120 found this helpful

Wow! I love this!

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February 29, 20120 found this helpful

If you don't have a bunch of brand new items to exchange at stores, I have this idea: when going through closets, put used items aside and take to a thrift store for store credit. You get more in credit than in cash. When you need clothing for family (ie. kids that grow so quickly), go to the thrift store and use your store credit.


This can work for household items as well as clothing.

Another thing to consider: sell on ebay and use your PayPal balance as a savings account to purchase items as you need on ebay. The cash flows in and out and everyone gets something they "need" or "want" without actually spending cash in our pocket.

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January 17, 20140 found this helpful

A lot of people would love to do what you're doing. They just can't get started. Your well written and spirited post may be just the incentive they need to get the ball rolling.

Thumbs up.

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