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Decluttering in an Uncertain Economy - Page 2

post #21 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennlyn View Post
I agree that you can't be keeping things out of fear
I don't know, I think fear and prudence can be healthily intertwined. My DH has been out of work since December 2008. I honestly am afraid that we won't have what we need (or want) when we need it, and that our lives will be uncomfortable or challenging as a result. It doesn't seem too far off from where we are now.

Keeping the stuff I do actually helps me fear less, and that is one of the reasons I do it. I am really relieved to know that (for example) if we are without power for three days in the winter, we can still exist relatively comfortably (and did last winter). Or that if and when my eldest DS grows three shoe sizes overnight, I have shoes that will fit him so we won't have to run out and pay retail (our local thrift shops are perpetually scant when it comes to kid stuff in the sizes I need). My stress is less when I know that even when money is very tight, I can "shop at home" for things I anticipated and stored in advance, especially if those are things we got for free anyway (like at the swap shop, or as hand-me-downs, or had from a fatter time).

I think one of the key things is to really know yourself and be able to be honest about whether you think you'll actually use something you're saving. And, I suppose, to be honest with yourself about your reasons for keeping it.
post #22 of 41
There is a big difference between having shoes several sizes up from your oldest child, and keeping shoes several sizes smaller than your youngest child, KWIM? Maybe you have arrived at a perfect decluttered state which requires only maintenance!
post #23 of 41
I have to say that the things i've decluttered lately (uh... yeah, I just started a few months ago, so by "lately" I mean pretty much "ever") have been things like my college notebooks, things we'll never use, things we don't love or even like, things that don't work...

I'm a sucker for holding on to books. I'm expecting to homeschool, but I also have this sort of end-of-the-world scenario in my head where I feel the need to hold on to classic books... for my kids. Which is probably ridiculous because I'm sure we'll have bigger problems in the case of the end of the world...

I've definitely gotten better about deciding if we really *need* something or if we're just holding onto it for no reason.

I've also started gearing my kitchen toward no electricity needed... so I've gotten rid of a number of appliances just for simplicity's sake. I actually enjoy kneading bread, so I'm trying to ditch my bread maker (which I've used, like, twice?)...
post #24 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Juvysen View Post
I'm a sucker for holding on to books. I'm expecting to homeschool, but I also have this sort of end-of-the-world scenario in my head where I feel the need to hold on to classic books... for my kids. Which is probably ridiculous because I'm sure we'll have bigger problems in the case of the end of the world...
I don't think this is ridiculous. DH and I saved all our books from when we were kids, including a lot of classics. We live rurally and the nearest good library...a small one, at that...is 25 minutes away and totally out of our way. We get there maybe once or twice a month. It is so helpful to have a shelf full of books to fall back on when we aren't getting to the library much. It saves gas and time, and if you have the space and keep things neat, I don't think it's a problem. But it's what I do, so I'm biased!

We basically have a home library. The challenge is just keeping our books tidy and accessible, which we do with a) shelves and b) well-organized storage boxes. And weeding out periodically to get rid of duplicates and the ones that have gotten junky - damaged beyond repair.
post #25 of 41
Your way is not my way , OP, as I am too disorganised to store stuff properly. I have lived with clutter so long that it cause me an anxiety of sort and it is better for my mental health to just ditch stuff. I do not ditchmy kids tuff, however, as that would be crossing a boundary and may set them up for later issues.

I think keeping stuff is fine if:

1. It does not cause you stress to keep - or the stress it causes you is less than the stress of replacement should the need arise.

2. You can keep the items well organised and in good shape. If you throw stuff in bags or piles it will get musty, rusty or squished.

3. You are reasonable. 2 or 3 extra phone cord? Reasonable. 30? Hoarding. This is particualrly a problem if you apply it to numerous categories. If it is just phone cords, it is fine...if it phone card, canned goods, toothpast, TP, lamps, etc it can really add up.

FWIW, I have rarely throw out something I needed to replace. I have lost way, way more stuff to being suffeciently messy that I cannot find things, or things were improperly stored and were ruined.
post #26 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
Your way is not my way , OP, as I am too disorganised to store stuff properly. I have lived with clutter so long that it cause me an anxiety of sort and it is better for my mental health to just ditch stuff. I do not ditchmy kids tuff, however, as that would be crossing a boundary and may set them up for later issues.

I think keeping stuff is fine if:

1. It does not cause you stress to keep - or the stress it causes you is less than the stress of replacement should the need arise.

2. You can keep the items well organised and in good shape. If you throw stuff in bags or piles it will get musty, rusty or squished.

3. You are reasonable. 2 or 3 extra phone cord? Reasonable. 30? Hoarding. This is particualrly a problem if you apply it to numerous categories. If it is just phone cords, it is fine...if it phone card, canned goods, toothpast, TP, lamps, etc it can really add up.

FWIW, I have rarely throw out something I needed to replace. I have lost way, way more stuff to being suffeciently messy that I cannot find things, or things were improperly stored and were ruined.
Kathy, I love your list. And you're right - it takes a committment of organization or it won't work. LOL, I just realized this forum IS called "Decluttering, ORGANIZING, and Simplifying." Truly, if I was not inclined to be organized, it would not make sense for me to keep things like I do.

And I totally love your #1 about stress. I guess the stress of me replacing things is pretty high for the foreseeable future.
post #27 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennlyn View Post
Also, I look at it this way- if I have a house full of things I "might" need and due to circumstances ( say the whole economy collapses and my neighborhood becomes violent- you can go wherever you want with "circumstances") am not able to stay in said house, how useful will all those things be?
This is what I always come back to when I go too far about wanting to keep things "just in case": If X or Y scenario happened, many of the things that I am tempted to hang on to would be the least of my concerns in that scenario.
post #28 of 41
I find that spending too much time on the "gloom and doom" forums is enough to make you run to the store and stock up on everything. As I do not plan to stock up on weapons and ammo to defend a stash of worldly goods, I question the necessity of having more than enough to outlast a possible natural disaster or to supplement in case of unemployment . Also, my children are all older. When they were smaller, I did have a stockpile of clothing and shoes in various sizes for them to grow into. I stopped doing that when I realized that teens will not necessarily wear what you have chosen for them, they'd rather wear three things over and over that they chose themselves.
post #29 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by amyamanda View Post
Kathy, I love your list. And you're right - it takes a committment of organization or it won't work. LOL, I just realized this forum IS called "Decluttering, ORGANIZING, and Simplifying." Truly, if I was not inclined to be organized, it would not make sense for me to keep things like I do.

.
Yeah, I think we tend to focus on the declutterring on MDC. If you are messy and need help it is a reasonable place to start.

That being said, organisation is needed. Eventually (even if you do not keep stuff "just in case") you are going to get done to a quantity of stuff and you are going to need to organise it.

I am finding that I do need to organise for what I have left. For example, I am going to buy (or forage, somehow) a laudry basket for my room, because I am just throwing clothes on the floor rather than walking them to the laundry basket in the bathroom. A little organisation is necessary to a smoothly functioning house (and saving money by keeping stuff you may need!) I think that comes after declutterring, though. It sounds like you are there, though
post #30 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennlyn View Post
I find that spending too much time on the "gloom and doom" forums is enough to make you run to the store and stock up on everything. As I do not plan to stock up on weapons and ammo to defend a stash of worldly goods, I question the necessity of having more than enough to outlast a possible natural disaster or to supplement in case of unemployment . Also, my children are all older. When they were smaller, I did have a stockpile of clothing and shoes in various sizes for them to grow into. I stopped doing that when I realized that teens will not necessarily wear what you have chosen for them, they'd rather wear three things over and over that they chose themselves.
Good point about teens - I don't have any yet. But as long as they have not yet established a preference, and as long as I am given hand-me-downs, I will keep tubs a couple of sizes ahead of my oldest.

Also, I do not think it is selfish to keep things you already own if you can anticipate a need for those things. If you know someone in dire need and can help them out directly without compromising your own family's needs, that is great. But (for example) our local homeless support organization is overflowing with clothes - they periodically offer them on Freecycle to whomever wants to come get some.

I think you may have misunderstood what I said about the economy. I'm not predicting that the economy will collapse and people will get violent toward their neighbors, or assuming any kind of doomsday outcome. But times are hard and getting harder. I know of lots of people who are unemployed and struggling and have been for awhile. Oil was very expensive two winters ago, and we seriously reconsidered our heating options (and ended up just turning the thermostat waaay down - but our extra blankets came in handy). I know people who choose to live without electricity because a cabin is their best, most affordable living option (it's not all that uncommon here). Having a backup plan with some basic tools to make it easier isn't the same as hoarding stuff we'll most likely never use.

I'm not talking about filling a closet with ammo and guns or anything like that. Nor defending a stash of anything at all. We had an ice storm last winter that left us without heat, phone, electricity, or safe roads for three days. Some areas near us were out for up to two weeks. That isn't unusual to expect here. We were able to carry on because we had what we needed - food, warmth, lighting, water, sawdust toilet, entertainment.

I'm coming back to this to correct a typo and add that I think most or all of the people here deserve credit for being thoughtful, intelligent readers. I may sometimes find myself reading about economic or cultural "doom and gloom," but it doesn't make me go out and do anything out of fear. And neither does anything I read here at MDC. I think MDC's readership is based in great part on people who are extremely thoughtful and resourceful parents who do not make choices blindly, and I expect that carries over into other areas of their lives as well, including how much or how little they choose to prepare for any number of possible scenarios (or not at all).
post #31 of 41
Amyamanda, it may surprise you to find that I also have many things in my home that would allow us to be more self-sufficient should the need arise. I live in an area that is prone to hurricanes. What I was trying to point out is that while you can prepare for various situations, there may be things for which you can't prepare. Perhaps I've grown a garden because times are tough and I want extra food for my family. I can't always ensure that the weather will allow my crops to thrive, or that someone won't come into my yard at night and harvest my crops. Yes, having a back up plan is important. I heartily advocate it. However, I think as mothers it is very easy for preparedness to cross over into fear and worry as our natural instinct is to protect our children . No one wants to see their child cold or hungry. We've been without power and water at different times. We did fine as we were prepared. Teaching your children how to deal with such things is important. If they are able to entertain themselves without electronic devices, consider yourself ahead of the game.
post #32 of 41
I'm so glad you started this thread, because I'm finding a bit of a conflict between the philosophies of frugality and simplicity. I was in the process of getting rid of pairs of jeans in the act of simplifying, when I realized that I haven't changed sizes in ten years, the jeans I have will eventually wear out, so why not keep the extra pairs? They fit in my dresser and the dresser takes up the same amount or room when it is full vs. half-empty. On the one hand, I want to make sure my belongings are well-used, well-organized, and well-loved, but the blogs I read devoted to simplicity are often focused on what I call "simple and sustainable consumerism." It's all about buying lots of stuff (from hip organic clothing and toy stores, etc.) to create a simple and organic "lifestyle."

There has to be a balance! This is my new quest.
post #33 of 41
Something I didn't see mentioned yet is that perhaps some of the stuff you are saving now "in case" could be put to use right away?

I can't think of any great example but what if you've got a hand crank coffee grinder in storage, how about decluttering the electric one and using the other one as your regular one? Or making concrete plans to switch to wood heat so that the wood stove can be put to use next winter? Or getting rid of an electric popcorn popper because you have one in storage that doesn't require electricity (we did that).
post #34 of 41
This is why I have an enormous linen closet full of old sheets and towels, while we pretty much use two sets of sheets and towels consistently. They're all from my mom when she moved, they don't "match" our bedrooms/bathrooms--but they're perfectly good! It seems wasteful to get rid of them, and what if some day......

Also, my DH lost his job two Octobers ago-we were lucky that he got rehired by that December but it really scared the pants off me. And if hadn't gotten rehired, those sheets might have come in handy at some point. Or not.

I actually think better storage is probably the answer, so you can hang onto useful things but have them out of the way for every day.
post #35 of 41
To be sure, you can replace it later is certainly a romantic notion. By that logic, everything in my house can be disposed of save for my pets and kids. Well, I guess I could replace them if I wanted to as well. I went through that, and still go through that. The issue of disposing of replaceable items, not pets or people, that is.

But...could I afford to replace a box of anything? Absolutely not. I have a big box of uhm...re-appropriated office supplies from my last job. If I had to replace everything in there, and it is all spares, I couldn't afford it. A stapler, box of scotch tapes, you name it. I could afford one thing here and there, but not the whole box.

For me, it comes down to what is consumable, really. If I am going to use it eventually, because what I have now will wear out or wear down or otherwise get consumed, I pack it away. If I won't get around to using it until the kids have kids of their own, I will probably dispose of it in some manner.

I can always steal pens from banks and plastic utensils from KFC. So those don't count. And what I do dispose of, I make sure I do it in a responsible way as to harvest the most karma in the future. Good luck. And if you ever need a spare 1000 paperclips, pm me.
post #36 of 41
I am kind of in the school of, if you give you receive. We have had many experiences where we shared whatever we had with others.

Whether its giving a panhandler tickets at a taste (where you buy tickets for food) when he asked for spare change which I had none of. DH asked if he needed to buy tickets and he said yes. DH gave him 5 tickets, enough to buy something to eat there. As we were leaving a few hours later, we found we still had a few tickets left and gave them to another family. We were also stuffed and didnt spend any more than normal on tickets.

We always have enought to share whether its a few pairs of shoes that my older daughter outgrew and dd2 could use down the road. We gave another family 5 pairs of size 10 shoes for their dd. We could have saved them for dd2, but they had recently lost his job and needed help.

The same with clothing, food etc.


We are far from minimal, but we do keep a pretty clutter free home. It makes thing more simple, organized etc and I find that if I store things, its out of sight, out of mind and we may forget we have it. Besides, I would be doing something better by passing it on then letting it sit in my garage for years where it could become damaged. We also like to park our cars in the garage.
post #37 of 41
I think my best trick is to not ask "Can I use this someday?" and instead ask "Will I definitely use it someday?" I am working towards minimalism but I find this line of questioning really helpful in deciding what to keep. For kids clothes I do keep several sizes in advance bought at thrift stores and organized into tubs in my son's closet by size. I figure 50 cents for a T-shirt that I know will cost 10-15 times that amount retail is a great return on investment and I *know* he will wear it. I keep toys and other stuff decluttered so that I have room to store these.

We also recently decided to keep a few "maybe" items like a $80 queen-sized air mattress. Even though we have a guest bed and several couches we could imagine situations where friends with kids are visiting and an extra bed would be helpful. So its going to be stored under the guest bed with its pump. I also keep extra towels and linens and blankets in the guest room - that way I always have something clean and ready-to-go for people who stay.

If you really think you will use these items then definitely keep them and I love the idea of incorporating them into your life now if you get a chance.
post #38 of 41
When you are decluttering, you inevitably go too far once in while and have to re-buy something that was disposed of. In my case, this has happened a couple times out of a few hundred disposals. The items I did have to re-buy had a purpose, gewgaws have never had to be re-bought.

If I'm wrong 1% to 2% of the time I don't mind. If you want to keep all the old clutter for insurance, then you would still be cluttered up, nothing would change. If you really need something and have disposed of it, go buy, borrow or rent one and don't fret over it, just be thankful for the other hundreds of items you got rid of.

Voluntary Simplicity is not about living low, it is about choices and balance. You get out what you put in with VS. If you do not cut back enough on the complexities that rob you of living life, then all you have is your same complex life back that you started with.

If you cut out too many complexities and are unhappy or bored, don't worry, you can always add them back. We suffer from no shortage of stress and complexities of living, especially if you have a family. Life gives us plenty of problems for free.
post #39 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by amyamanda View Post
Kathy, I love your list. And you're right - it takes a committment of organization or it won't work. LOL, I just realized this forum IS called "Decluttering, ORGANIZING, and Simplifying." Truly, if I was not inclined to be organized, it would not make sense for me to keep things like I do.

And I totally love your #1 about stress. I guess the stress of me replacing things is pretty high for the foreseeable future.
This is how I feel too! I do not want to get rid of my children's clothes even though they have outgrown them. I have done that before only to change my mind and decide to have another child. So for me I am mostly storing kids stuff. I really hate buying the same exact thing (seeing as baby clothes, maternity which don't really change) twice- or in my case three/four times if I were to get rid of something.

I just need to invest in rubbermaid stock. I would be a billionaire.
post #40 of 41
Haven't read the whole thread, but I think it's perfectly possible to have an uncluttered home while storing plenty of extras "just in case".
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