During the last weeks we have been working on ways to save money over Christmas and also build up our pantries. Both of these are ways to get ahead in one way or another. They get you ahead financially and also with time management. So I am talking about getting ahead as in ways to have more time and money up your sleeve, not a large boat in the driveway type getting ahead. (Although Andy would love a large boat in the driveway lol)
Often I say that this or that will also help us to get ahead. I am always trying for ways to inch ahead somehow. Sometimes I can see that doing a little extra helps things be heading in an upwards spiral and other ways when things are just not going right and everything is heading in a downwards spiral!
I do notice that most ways to get ahead a bit are little things we can do and lots of little things add up.
It is bliss when I am ahead with things. It means I am not only caught up (as I'm often trying to catch up!) but something else is done too. Maybe dinner is already made and thawing out. Christmas gifts are all made. We have some money in the emergency fund. They are all little ways that getting ahead is a great feeling!
Believe me I don't always achieve this! But it is something I try for and try to find little ways to get there.
Some of my most tried and tested ways to get ahead are cooking multiples. So if I make a casserole I make a big batch so I have enought to make pies with the left overs or enough for a meal another night.
If I am making pies I try to make enough to have some spare ones in the freezer for emergency/easy meals. Then I am ahead with both cooking and grocery money.
I do the same with soup, stock, spaghetti sauce etc. It is really no harder to do a big batch but saves you in a lot of ways.
Meals in the freezer get you ahead in several ways. Apart from a time saver if you have a lot of big bills or there is severe weather you have meals without going shopping. You are ahead financially as well as time wise.
If making a cake make two. Or make up the extra amount as muffins or little cakes. Frozen these can be popped into lunch boxes. The same with pizza, make some little ones as well for the next days. It all gets you ahead! These things mean lunches are taken and not bought. Right there you have just got ahead by a long way!
I make large trays of lasagne so I have plenty of left overs. When cold they cut beautifully and I freeze them in individual portions like this...
These are so handy!
Many things have spin off benefits. Meals like this mean you don't need takeaway. They are so helpful and this is one of my best ways to get ahead.
Another one I love is getting ahead with bills. This is often a bit of a dream but my biggest bill that worries me is power. As we usually get very hot summers this hangs over our heads. Since putting away money each week so I have a stash saved up towards this bill it is much better. It gets me ahead a little. Even a little is a big help.
Making presents all year has really got me ahead. I am thrilled with this one. In January we are starting The Christmas Club so we can work along together to get ahead for next year. It helps as far as your work load goes but also financially. Big help!
With crafts I always make multiples. Like with cooking it is often not much more work to do a few spares and put them away for another gift. This works with cards too. While the supplies are out assemble some more. You will be ahead with cards when you need them.
When we were at school Mum always had us organize our bags and things the night before so we were ahead in the morning. I always did this with the girls. Clothes and lunches were all sorted in the evening before to get the day off to a good start. A good evening routine will really get you ahead for the next day. Anything you can do to get the next day off to a good start is a big help. The day will go better. Somehow fifteen minutes spent the night before getting organized seems to equal a whole lot more time in the mornings!
Some ladies do a lot of cooking on the weekend to get ahead for the working week.
Mum often will set the dinner table and do something towards dinner during the day so she is ahead in the busy evenings.
This week I have started doing some Christmas parcel wrapping as I have a lot to do. It gets pretty busy closer to Christmas. Getting some done now gets me ahead with that. It keeps me from doing things in a rushed way too so things turn out better! And as a bonus as I sorted through my presents I have enough things for several January birthdays. I am wrapping these now as I wrap Christmas presents. I feel what a good start to January that these are done!
We try and go away a few days every year. We have a fund for that and when we can we add a little. And in the month before we go I start a holiday basket. I stash tea, coffee, treats, snacks so that I am ahead with things to take away with us.
Some ways I love to get ahead that work for me are:
Keeping a stash of wrapping paper and cards. Make as many as you can suitable for multiple occassions so you are not running to the store for these kinds of items.
A present cupboard of as much variety as possible.
A good pantry of basics.
Spare items that are used regularly from laundry powder to shampoo, toilet paper etc.
Spare ready made meals in the freezer and items that will make a quick meal in the pantry.
Long life milk or powdered milk for if milk runs out. And spares of whatever it is that your family tends to run out of causing dashes to the store.
A good evening routine. Keeping things you are going to need to take with you the next day near the door or next to your handbag.
Lists. A planner. Knowing your week, your appointments, up coming birthdays... all these things help you stay ahead and not get caught out!
Finding little ways to save. Building up your emegency fund.
Putting on the crock pot in the morning when its a busy day or you are going to be out. Or taking a meal out of the freezer. You are well ahead then for the evening meal.
Pre preparing what you can ahead of visitors coming for a meal.
Part preparing food so meals can be put together quickly. ie wash your lettuce and fruit so it is ready.
Drying my tops on hangers. There are no peg marks then and they go straight into the wardrobe.
Putting away clothes for the season clean and fresh and ready for next season.
The same with shoes/boots.
Combining errands to get as much done in the shortest time.
Folding sheets etc straight from the line so no creases are formed.
Delegate and have everyone doing their share. Work as a team.
Using what you have already for crafts and sewing gets you miles ahead. You might have to be inventive but using things up is a huge money saver.
Set aside food intended for other meals. Don't have a free range policy. In a past life I had a lot of trouble with this. Whatever I cooked ahead was eaten. I learned when serving to set aside future meals asap and freeze asap.
Use whatever you have in abundance in every way you can. If you have an abundance of apricots then look at them as food for now, food to store, gifts and treats. They can be your current fruit so you don't need to spend any money on fruit. (money saved) They can be made into stewed apricots for the freezer, for breakfasts etc... (more money saved and some food put away for the future), they can be made into jam (more food put away for the future and lovely gifts to give away), they can be made into cakes and muffins etc (loads more food and gifts!) Dry some for future snacks or making fruit cakes. One windfall of fruit can get you ahead in many ways! The same with anything... make the most of it.
Sometimes getting ahead is helped with a little planning and re arranging. Sometimes multi tasking is a big help. A space of time like sitting in the doctors surgery is a great time to write a letter, (or book if your Doctor is like mine!) work on your crochet or whatever is transportable.
What are you tips for getting ahead? From time saving tips to money saving tips they all help as gain a little ground in different areas.
There are times I especially try to make extra progress... before a really busy time, before a holiday or a big expense coming up. Other times being ahead is a life saver like when you are sick.
This is another area that little opportunities over time add up. In fact when you think about it gradual improvements can be life changing. Most people do not greatly improve their families positions overnight. Most things take years and years. Inching ahead in different ways can be life changing.
On Wednesday I am posting about getting ahead so that it is easy to deal with lots of fruit if it comes your way. It seems to me that I will have nothing to preserve then in one day I will have 40 kilos of something and if I don't act fast I will miss the opportunity as half of it will spoil. So before fruit season I try to get ahead with things that will make this time much easier. And that time is approaching! Around Christmas and January I often end up with lots of fruit. It is a window of opportunity to make the most of this abundance! Preparing ahead makes it much easier.
Have a wonderful week! xxx