Lorie Marrero’s 7 rules of spares

The inspiring Lorie Marrero, fellow finalist for “Best organizing book” at the recent NAPO Awards with her The Clutter Diet book, kindly allowed me to reproduce her terrific blog post on spares. Thank you Lorie!

Spare stuff means having extra… having an alternate or auxiliary item…being prepared when something runs out or gets broken or lost. Having spare stuff is really smart, efficient, and useful, but you have to be careful to not take it too far and crowd out more important items. Examples of things that are useful to keep as spares:

* Spare tyres
* Cleaning & laundry supplies
* Anything that’s a “refill” or “concentrate”
* Tinned goods
* Spices & dry goods
* Frozen food
* Favorite wine
* Batteries & chargers
* Keys
* Spectacles
* Sheets
* Pens and pencils
* Toilet paper & tissues
* Toiletries/Cosmetics
* Sticky notes
* Printer cartridges
* Backup hard drives
* Reams of paper and other office supplies like envelopes

And here are my “Seven Rules of Spare:”

1. Keep spares for things that are consumable but not perishable (things you use up frequently but won’t go bad quickly).
2. Spare stuff has to actually be used eventually by you and your family– it’s not there just because it was a bargain.
3. Spare stuff has to fit in your space. If you live in a tiny apartment you probably will just need to shop more often.
4. Keeping spares cannot crowd out prime usable space better used for more important, more frequently needed items. Don’t fill your pantry with a case of wine for a “someday” party when you really need it for everyday cereal and soup.
5. When you access your spare, mark it down on your shopping list to buy a new spare– this way you’ll never run out.
6. Buying in larger containers can sometimes substitute for buying multiples as spares. Investigate buying in bulk warehouse stores for larger quantity containers of cleaning supplies, for example.
7. Maintain spares if they are mission-critical. If spares are extremely important for safety or crucial operations (like tires or backup hard drives), add maintenance tasks into your calendar to check on them and make sure they are at the ready.

So, what do you stock as spares in your spare time? Care to spare a word or two for our comments?


2 responses to “Lorie Marrero’s 7 rules of spares

  1. Toss out spares you no longer need. For example, if you tossed out that broken lamp that takes a specific size of light globe, you don’t need those extra globes any more. They are just taking up space.

    labels tend to lose their stickiness over time (sheets of labels for printing on, sticky gift tags, even self seal envelopes), so keeping a huge pile of those might not be cost effective. i guess sticky tape will seal an envelope though.

    first aid supplies – watch use-by dates for antiseptics, etc. Bandaids may lose their stickiness over time too.

    old petrol, i was told the other day, can shorten the life of your mower motor. put it in the car and buy fresh – dont store it over winter. guess there is a flammability hazard there too if not careful.

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