Fabulous Fridays!

When was the last time you went on a treasure hunt?  You don’t need to sail to the Caribbean – just go through your closets. More specifically your bathroom closets, linen closets, under your bed, in shopping bags,  in plastic bins or wherever you put impulse buys and samples. 

How many hair products do you currently own? The ones you use everyday, the ones you needed to create the hairstyle you saw in a magazine, the ones you bought because your stylist used them and they would magically give you the same results, the ones you had a coupon for, the inexpensive ones you bought to be frugal and the crazy expensive ones you bought on a retail therapy bender. Now just for fun add in the samples, travel sized products and the souvenirs of every hotel you’ve ever stayed at. 

Next, take stock of your skin care cache. Again the stock pile ranges from your daily routine, the splurges that promised the miraculous results, the inexpensive products promising high end results, and samples. Move on to lotions and creams – from the layering properties of our favorite scent to the vat of store brand because we couldn’t resist the value many of us could moisturize a small nation. Speaking of scents – how many bottles, vials, towelettes, atomizers and samples do you have?  Whether you are loyal to a signature scent or spritz depending on your mood I challenge you to find at least five different options at your fingertips (at least!). 

How often did the promise of a tan to envy the spray ons sported on Dancing With The Stars motivate you to buy a self tanning product? Lotions, sprays, mousse, towelettes – in every shade from day glo orange to caramel coffee and everything in between. Don’t forget the exfoliators, moisturizers, extenders and correctors that promise to make you look evenly sun kissed. For many of us the promise just didn’t deliver, or the time involved in preparation, application and maintenance just didn’t make the bronzing worth it. Add these products to the good intentions gone bad pile.

Finally take a moment to consider your make up collection.  The go to products used daily, the professional work look, the evening look, the “going to a gala/black tie/wedding” look, the drugstore collection promising to give you the same results as the air brushed movie star in their ads, the high end collection promising to make you as hip as the tattooed, pierced sales person that convinced you the edge was only one brush stroke away. Now factor in the samples, items you bought for the beach bag/store promo and the various shades that just didn’t work in real life.  Quite a haul!!

If I were mean I would tell you to calculate the value of your personal stash, but the point here is to positively move forward and not calculate how many shoes/bags/groceries you could have bought instead.  The task here is to take stock, evaluate and take action.  The whole point is to move toward fabulousness, not wallow in the past when we didn’t know any better (or chose to ignore our wiser inner voice). Now that we have owned up to the staggering arsenal of beauty we have amassed it’s time to sort it out – honestly and brutally. 

First group, what you use everyday. These are the products that work and give you the results that make you feel best about yourself, or at least good enough to leave the house. Second group – what you use when you step it up and  really feel good about yourself. You can keep all of these things! Put them away and take stock of your supply – keep no more than one back up on hand and know that you have a system that works for you.

Now look at what remains and separate into the never used/opened pile, the gently used, sample sized and the way past expiration date group.  Ditch the last group, throw it all out and do a dance of joyful accomplishment (always celebrate small accomplishments, waiting for big ones is self defeating!). Take a look at the never opened/never used pile.  Do you know someone who swears by any of these items? Pass them on as a random act of kindness. Do you know of a woman’s shelter or of a group helping those reentering the workplace – your extras would be greatly appreciated there. You might also consider community centers or donations for the military for practical items that might be sent in care packages or be a small treat for someone relying on support right now.

Any make up you have sampled throw away – as a germaphobe I shudder at passing those items on – even to your best friend (especially to your best friend!). If what is left isn’t something that is snatched up in your communal sharing effort ask if local school or community theatre groups would be interested. Often these groups are running on a tight or non-existent budget and would greatly appreciate some free stash. You might also ask women’s shelters or groups helping women re-entering the workplace if they accept unused make up as donations – they might truly appreciate it.

Gently used items are purely to pass on among friends and family, run it by them and see if anyone else wants to give what didn’t work for you a try.  Perhaps this swapping of product could be a great way for all of you to get rid of what you don’t use and perhaps try something else at no cost.

Sample sized/travel sized items take on a life of their own in that we are saving for a future use we are sure will come – most likely it won’t!  If you don’t use that deodorant or toothpaste everyday why do you think you might want to use it on vacation or business travel? If you wouldn’t buy that shampoo at full size why is it attractive in the tiny bottle – does it just look cuter to you? Twenty q-tips in a cardboard box really aren’t necessary when you have the warehouse sized crate in your closet and zip lock bags. Finally, the lure of product in hotels is something we just can’t avoid. Often we look at them as a boon for our next trip, or a benefit owed to us for the cost of the room.  Therefore, we have collections collecting dust waiting for a trip that sadly for them will never come. These are perfect for military donations, pack them up and ship them out. Many local scouting groups or school groups organize shipments – look into it and do some good. These are also good items to donate to shelters and community centers – our family program also made up bags of sample sized basics and donated them to the pediatric hospital for parents staying overnight with their children.

This exercise takes time and will power, but holds great promise.You should now be able to look at what you did decide to keep and know what works for you and what makes you feel good. Fabulousness should be part of who you are and fit into your lifestyle seamlessly. If  your past efforts to be fabulous have resulted in  clutter, depleted cash flow and disappointment it is time to move on!



Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Extreme Couponing For A Cause

I was cruising through channels today and came across Extreme Couponing on TLC. I had previously considered myself a champion couponer – when we were first married and the kids were small I had a system that allowed me to save about $50.00 per visit.  More recently I don’t make the time to coupon, go to online sites and plan a strategy, but I do organize some coupons in my wallet for Target and use coupons at clothing retailers that can certainly add up.

After what I just saw I realize that I don’t even come close to being a coupon champion – I had no idea that couponing to this extreme existed.  My initial response was that this was an extremely clean way to hoard (these folks have storage systems in their house that rival the organization and presentation of Whole Foods!). My next thought was that you couldn’t possibly use that much of one product – such as toothpaste or deodorant – in a life time. The narrator then went on to say it was the equivalent of deodorant lasting one hundred and fifty years!!

Some of these folks spend forty to sixty hours a week working on their couponing – cutting, searching the net and printing, filing systematically and creating spreadsheets to determine weekly sales at various stores.  Some of the more extreme efforts: dumpster diving for coupon inserts, driving to vacant homes to take the coupon fliers from the drive and front porch and using multiple computers at home to avoid the limit of printing a certain number of coupons per offer. They also keep an updated file of the stores couponing policies and carry them in case their strategic shop is questioned.

I can totally see this as a way to ease a family’s financial burden, or a great way to boost family savings, but I don’t understand filling your home with items that you will realistically never be able to use.

Then the light bulb went off above my head (the old fashioned soft glow kind, not the funky Al Gore kind)! People can use the skills of extreme couponing to do good!!  Individuals, groups, schools and service organizations can use this phenomenon to donate items to food pantries, community centers, midnight run groups, and our service men and women.

There are many resources both online through amazon.com that can provide tips on how to begin and optimize your strategy – over 58 search results.  This is certainly something people of all ages can do and could be a great project for a classroom, scouts or student service groups. Once the collection and filing systems are set up volunteers would be needed to do the actual shopping and provide storage and transportation to the donation points.

My Family Program has been doing collections for local organizations for the past six years and each time the item or items collected were things within reason – canned goods at Thanksgiving, character band aids for pediatric hospitals, sweatshirts and pajamas have always been generously provided by our families. This month we are collecting tuna, peanut butter and pasta as these are items that either provide protein or can stretch a meal as more and more families are in need of assistance. As we all are experiencing the need to tighten our belts these days couponing would allow my families to continue to be generous without tapping into their own food budgets.

Maybe groups could be formed in communities based on this way of obtaining necessary items for little cost purely for the purpose of donating them?

I still don’t know why anyone would need one hundred and fifty years worth of deodorant, but I love the idea of using this tactic to make life easier for those in need and those who serve.

Edit Post 10/3/11:  Did you see that Extreme Couponing is featured on the cover of Time Magazine’s October 10, 2011  Special Money Issue (page 36)??!!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter