I love a challenge that gives me great results in a short time, is very easy to do, makes my home organized, and saves me money. I can always push myself for 30 days if I know I will get so much out of it. And so can you.

Every 6 months or so I set myself a ‘Use What You Have Challenge’. Want to do one with me? Challenge accepted!

For the next 30 days only use what you already have in the house. Mark off the days in a calendar and stick to it. Here are some tips and guidelines on how you can get the most out of this challenge:

Ban spending

Yes, ban spending. Only buy things that are absolutely necessary to sustain life, nothing else. You really can do this for 30 days. The point is to not bring anything through your front door that you have sitting on a shelf somewhere.

Do you really need that new fragrance with a fancy French name or do you have bottles of fragrance sitting on your dresser at home?

I actually had to make this decision a few days ago. My first instinct was ‘ooohhh, this smells delicious and I can’t even pronounce the name. It’s fancy all dressed up in a miniature bottle. And I need it!’

Then I realized that I have no less than 5, yes 5, bottles of delicious-smelling sprays at home. I backed out of that store as quickly as I could. I know that when I’ve used what I have I can buy more. Fancy French fragrances aren’t going anywhere. I’m kicking this one out of the ballpark!

If you can’t completely ban then try to delay spending as much as possible for these 30 days. Make what you have last. You probably have more than you think you have.

Want to take saving money even further?

Every time you crush it and don’t buy something you would have bought, transfer that money into a savings account or investment. Trust me it works. I paid off the balance of my car loan in 4 months this way. I literally paid it off in spurts of small amounts – anything I had went into it: $20. $100, $5. I chucked everything at it. And now I have no car payments.

So if French fragrance costs $30, and you put down that little bottle and back out the store, transfer $30 to your savings account or investment. Then watch that money grow for a bigger life goal.

Use what’s already in your house, garage, car, purse

Make a point of using all the things in your house, garage, car, and purse.

I often open a new bottle before finishing something, then I have two or three bottles lined up staring at me every time I take a shower, cook a meal, or put my make-up on. Especially shampoo. Which is strange. I don’t know why shampoo, but this is what I do.

If you have a lot of the same item then start with the emptiest container and finish it first. Move on to the next. Rinse and repeat (see how I got a shampoo joke in there?).

organize makeup

I focus on using up the following:

  • Toiletries
  • Nail varnish
  • Pantry cupboard staples
  • Groceries in the fridge
  • Groceries in the freezer
  • Tea, coffee, sweetener, and any other goodies at the coffee station 
  • Anything lying in my paid-off car
  • Laundry room supplies
  • All household cleaning supplies
  • Books I want to read (no buying any books until I’ve read what I have)
  • Vitamins
  • Candles
  • Medicines (throw away expired items and don’t buy anything new unless you’ve finished what you have)

Use all samples and freebies

Attack those cute magazine freebies and store samples that are collecting dust or lying in the bottom of your purse. Finish them. If you haven’t used them in these 30 days then throw them out – you probably never will!

Can you double-task anything or make it yourself?

Use what you have for more than one purpose.

Let’s say you feel like you need a hot bath to relax in at the end of a long challenge day. But you can’t buy bath salts because they aren’t necessary to sustain life (remember rule #1?). Well there’s an easy answer – Google! Go online and find a way to make your own salts. This applies to many things – teeth whitening, detox baths, body scrubs, conditioners, and I’m purposefully avoiding bringing up shampoo again here…

Do you have green fingers? Sprout veggies and herbs from what you have in the kitchen and grow them. Make compost from the leftovers. Don’t know how to do it? Same answer as above – just Google it.

After the challenge

Life is really meant to be enjoyed and I don’t think you have to challenge yourself forever.

We all start this challenge from a different point in our lives and we all operate on different levels to stay happy. Pat yourself on the back for anything you achieve. Apply the things you enjoyed about this challenge to your everyday life, and leave the things you don’t like for the next time you feel like taking on the full challenge.

Here’s the simple rule I keep when I’m not on the challenge: I only keep one spare item of everything I really need, and nothing more. So I have one spare toothpaste, for example. This saves me from rushing out to buy another one when I finish the one I have. It’s convenient – I open the new toothpaste, write it on my shopping list, and casually buy another one next time I’m out getting groceries. No stress.

I limit the extras to one cute box. What doesn’t fit in there cannot be kept.

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So how are you finding the challenge? Do you have any tips or experiences to add for us Tribers?

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