About Lainie Petersen

Lainie Petersen is a guest writer for Storage.com. She works full time as a freelance writer and researcher, blogging for MoneyCrashers.com, LainieSips.com (a tea blog), VirtualVocations.com and several other online publications. She lives in Chicago with Ned, her very large orange tabby cat.

Winter Purchases: Supplies and Clothing

iStock_000001396351XSmallWith the change of season comes the need for warmer clothes, winter weather supplies and even a pantry stocked with enough food, medication and other items to tide you over during a blizzard.  If you find the notion of winter shopping intimidating, here are some tips:



Shopping for winter clothing can be trickier than you think, particularly when moving between home, car, office and public spaces that are all heated to a different temperature. In addition to basic winter gear (coat, gloves, hat, boots) pick up layering pieces, such as jackets and cardigan sweaters that you can put on and take off as the need arises.

If you plan to vacation in a warm destination during the winter months, check out the clearance racks at your favorite stores. You’ll find some great deals on warm-weather fashions.

Emergency Tip: Stow older coats, gloves and boots in the trunk of your car. They may come in handy if you find yourself stranded in bad weather.


Winter Supplies

Be prepared for the first cold snap or snowstorm by making sure that you have winter tools and supplies on hand. Check your snow shovel (or snow blower) to see if it needs replacing or repair. Do you have salt for your sidewalk? Do the windows in your older house need insulation? Put these items on your shopping list.

Holiday Gifts

The holiday season is expensive. Reduce the hit to your wallet by starting your holiday shopping early. Take advantage of sales and wrap and label your gifts right after you buy them so that you aren’t left frantic the night before your holiday celebration.

Grocery and Household Staples

If you live in an area known for bad winter weather, now’s the time to stock up on food and household items, including emergency supplies. Cold weather will make quick trips to the store less-than-pleasant.

Moreover, there is always the chance that you could find yourself snowed in for a few days, possibly with limited or no utilities. Don’t get caught unprepared.

Emergency and Non-Emergency Items

  • In addition to your staple meals and ingredients, stock up on emergency rations such as canned soups and stews, protein bars, beef jerky, nuts and as shelf-stable foods and beverages.
  • Batteries
  • Toilet paper
  • Over the counter medicines (i.e. pain reliever, cold remedies)
  • Prescription medication
  • Sterno
  • Sterno cooking stove
  • Matches and/or lighters
  • Flashlights
  • First aid supplies
  • Solar and/or battery powered cell phone charger
  • Emergency radio
  • Light bulbs
  • Basic household cleaners
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Pet food and supplies, such as cat litter


Home Repairs

Depending on where you live, fall may be your last opportunity to make needed household repairs. Have a look around your place (you might even want to hire a home inspector) to identify areas that need attention.

Once you decide which projects you need to tackle, head over to the hardware store to pick up the supplies that you need. If a project is beyond your capabilities, call local contractors and start getting estimates.

What are some standard winter purchases in your household?

Reasons Why Snowbirds Should Consider Off-Site Storage

Northern and Midwestern winters can be tough, so many folks in these areas fly south during the colder months. These “snowbirds” typically spend anywhere from 2-5 months each year away from home, basking in the sunny confines of Florida, Arizona or another warm state until spring’s arrival. These folks often rent their homes to short-term tenants, hire a caretaker or ask a friend or family member to house sit until the snowbirds fly back home again. Continue reading

Shopping for Singles: Save time, Money, and Space

Shopping for singles isn’t as easy as it might seem. One significant problem is that suppliers often package grocery items in amounts suitable for families of three or more people, which can lead to food waste.

Planning your shopping trips ahead of time, as well as learning safe food storage techniques, can make grocery shopping for one less stressful and expensive.

Here are some tips for solo grocery shopping:

  • Use specialized cookbooks: There are several “meals for one” cookbooks on the market, including some ethnic cookbooks. Yes, you may need to buy a few new pieces of cookware, such as a small skillet or a tiny crockpot, but once you learn to cook for one, you’ll be less likely to rely on prepackaged meals or delivery food.


  • Create plans and lists: As you browse through your cookbooks, select a week’s worth of recipes and create a shopping list. Shopping lists not only keep you from forgetting things that you need at the store, but can also help prevent impulse buys of junk and convenience food.
  • Select your stores carefully: Some chains, such as Trader Joe’s, offer packaged foods in smaller quantities (1 or 2 servings). Independent grocery stores in trendy neighborhoods, where lots of singles live, might likewise offer foods packed in smaller quantities.
  • Shop the parameter: Dietitians have been telling us for years that it is best to shop the parameter of a store, where fresh, whole foods are. While this is good advice for everybody, shopping the parameter has another advantage: This is the area where you can buy unpackaged foods from the produce section, butcher shop, deli and/or fish market. Take or order as much as you need.


  • Think through bulk purchases: Buying large quantities of something can save you money, but only if you end up using all of it. If you do spot a good bulk quantity sale, consider first whether you have enough space to store your purchase. If you are buying perishable food, do you have the time and resources to re-package the food into reasonable amounts?
  • Learn safe food storage: To actually save money with bulk food purchases, you’ll need to repackage it for long-term storage, preferably soon after you bring it home. The federal government site, Nutrition.gov [http://www.nutrition.gov/shopping-cooking-meal-planning/food-storage-and-preservation] offers comprehensive information on safely storing food. Be sure to add food storage supplies, such as foil, plastic containers and freezer bags to your shopping list.


Do you shop for one person? What are your tips for thrifty shopping?

4 Tips for Selecting a Thoughtful Housewarming Gift

StorageFacilityStorageUnitMoving is a major transition and many people appreciate the support of their friends as they adjust to their new home. If a friend or family member recently relocated, a housewarming gift is a wonderful way to show your support.

If you’re having trouble selecting a gift, and the recipient hasn’t joined a gift registry, here are a few tips to help you choose:

 Consider Space & Needs

The gift-giving impulse is a good one, but must be tempered with the realization that not everyone has a lot of space for gifts. While recent college grads often need a lot of help setting up housekeeping, many adults have more “stuff” than they actually need. This is particularly true for people moving into smaller homes after retirement. Continue reading

Six Tips for Renting with Pets

Young woman with her dog against the clear sky.Looking for a place to rent is always an adventure, even more so if you’re a pet owner. Many landlords and property management companies are wary about renting with pets, and for good reason: Irresponsible pet owners can alienate neighbors and cost property owners thousands of dollars in damage repairs. Prepare for some extra challenges when finding a new place to live when renting with pets.

Here are some tips for getting a great apartment for yourself and your furry or feathered companion:

Understand Landlord Concerns About Renting with Pets

Landlords don’t forbid pets in their buildings just to be mean. Pets can do some serious damage to both rental units and community spaces and it is ultimately the landlord’s responsibility to deal with repairs.

Here are some typical landlord concerns:

  • Damage to carpet and furnishings.
  • Inability to get pet odors out of the unit after your departure.
  • Dog messes on the building’s grounds.
  • Animals left alone can make a lot of noise and are at greater risk of damaging the property.
  • Risk of injury to another tenant.
  • Large dogs or dogs that are considered to be of a “dangerous” breed might be considered a liability risk.

If you approach your landlord with an understanding of his concerns, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate an arrangement that works for both of you.

Talk to Your Vet

Before you begin your search for a rental home, take your animal in for a vet visit. Having vet records showing that your animal is in good health and is up to date on shots can be helpful in persuading a landlord to accept your pet into her building.

Put Together a Pet Resume

Much like a job resume, a pet resume is a document that contains details about your pet. Put together a detailed record of your pet’s behavior, medical history and a list of people who can testify that you are a responsible pet owner. Attaching documentation such as vet health certificates and obedience school diplomas to your pet resume gives in credibility.

Narrow Your Search

Before you begin your property hunt, be realistic about the kind of property that you need. Look for an unfurnished unit, preferably without carpeting that your pet could soil or damage. If you have a large or energetic dog, you might have difficulty getting a landlord to rent you a small apartment: Consider a house or a large, garden apartment with yard access. Older buildings are less likely to be sound proofed, something to think about if you have a particularly loud animal.

Prepare for Negotiation

Be proactive in approaching landlords and property managers and expect to do some negotiating. Here are a few things to address during your discussions:

  • If you make regular use of a pet sitter, dog walker or doggy day-care, let the landlord know about this. He may be concerned about a dog left alone in your apartment all day and knowing that the dog is looked after might persuade him to rent to you.
  • Let the landlord know if you are willing to bring in your own air purifiers or to pay for regular steam-cleaning of any carpets.
  • Offer to pay for a professional cleaning when you move out of the unit.
  • If a landlord doesn’t ask for a pet deposit, but appears to be on the fence about accepting your application, offer an additional security deposit anyway.
  • If you have a large or “bully breed” dog, offer to muzzle the dog when taking him in or out of the building.

Be a Good Tenant

Once accepted as a tenant, make good on your promise to be a responsible renter and pet owner: Not only is it the right thing to do, but you may need your current landlord to give you a reference in the future. Clean up immediately after your pet and address problems with barking, scratching or chewing immediately. Keep your pet’s shots up-to-date and be courteous to your neighbors when taking your dog out for walks.

Are you a pet owner who rents?  Have you faced any challenges? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section.