or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Organize & Declutter › When simplifying and being frugal means more stuff
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

When simplifying and being frugal means more stuff

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I'm feeling very conflicted at the moment.  DH and I have been endeavoring for the past few years to simplify our lifestyle, meaning that we cook more homemade meals; grow, can, dry, and freeze our own produce; and try to make as many things, like lotion or medicines, from natural things.  We are also trying to be very frugal and not waste anything that can still be used.

 

I just finished reading a blog article about melting down the last bits of candles that have burned their entire wick but still have wax left.  You melt the wax, combine several candles in a new jar with a new wick, and voila! a new candle!  Which all sounds very nice, and frugal, but I don't want a bunch of mostly burned candles laying around.

 

Our new lifestyle has already meant more of some things.  We have canning jars galore, a big pantry in the basement to hold all the preserved food, a dedicated deep freezer for all the frozen veggies I make and meat we buy, a dehydrator, canning utensils, a big canning kettle, a pressure canner, etc.  And then there are herbs, wax, and other supplies for making lotions and such.  

 

The idea of saving things to repurpose or reuse appeals to my frugal side, but the side that's trying to simplify and reduce is going ballistic at all the "stuff" required to do so.  Help? dizzy.gif

post #2 of 21

It's a balance, and only you can find it.

 

Take candle ends. Some people would put them in a jar and feel a little swell of happiness that they will use it. They'll note how many ends there are and think "hey, only a few more and I can make a new one!"

 

Others will say "what the hell am I gonna do with this? As if I don't have enough crap around the house anyway."

 

Both are perfectly valid. If you are not feeling the pleasure of keeping it, chuck it!

 

You will have more motivation to keep some things than others. If keeping something isn't a pleasure, don't.

 

Right now I have a pressure canner stored awkwardly under an extra dining room chair. In my case, when I look at it, I don't think "great, more junk" but "cool, I can't wait to do my first real batch of canning this summer." But you know what? I've been saving oatmeal containers for a while because they look so darn reusable. But they are junk to me. I have no idea what to do with them. No plans. I should get rid of them one way or another.

post #3 of 21

I have the same dilemma.  I find things I *can* do and get all excited, but then end up with the bits lying around.

 

Sure you *can* do all sorts of repurpose-y stuff and save bits of candle, or crayons or soap, but will you, or will it just feel like one more unfinished thing?  I have found there are certain things that I just *won't* get around to, even if I know I can do them, and have begun to cut those things out of consideration.

 

Canning, I love.  And deal with all the bits that go with it. Other things, not so much and just would rather purchase the thing I need, or go without. 

 

 

post #4 of 21

I agree: balance is key. Also figuring out if something you need to purchase does make your life move smoother, then acquire the thing. In my case it is two sets of containers for my dd1's lunchbox.

 

Oatmeal containers: try a preschool. Our was just collecting them about a month ago.

post #5 of 21

Just what we're going through now! I'm trying to figure out how to build raised planting beds without it being too expensive. Spending a couple of bucks on a single retaining brick has got me down but that's probably the best way to go. I have 7 cubic yards of free, pristine, decomposed granite in my driveway (that was a successful craigslist find and delivered free too), and compost coming from a friend (wow, giving away compost - can't imagine). Now I just need to contain it all.

 

I've resorted to garbage picking my neighbor's old, deep bureau which is perfect on its side as an herb garden. Later, my husband told me our neighbor took the drawers I left to make planters. To grow our own loofah sponges we constructed a trellis that borders on eyesore. I haven't even begun to plan for canning but it's inevitable.

 

We invented a small composter for the classroom that we are prototyping at my daughter's school and trying to fabricate it without spending much money is also a challenge.

 

BUT - I've never had so much satisfaction. Everybody's happier! The true test was staying up late to draw a cartoon about composting and thinking "Wow, I used to pull all-nighters for big companies and now all this overtime is for the good of the family, cool!"  

post #6 of 21
I put bits of candle in my fire starting supplies. No biggie.

The trick is to find those things that are worth doing for YOU.joy.gif
post #7 of 21

Your conflict reminds me of the conflicting feelings that I often get between being frugal by selling my kids clothes/toys etc on ebay, and my desire to declutter quickly. If I take the frugal route, I have bags and boxes of stuff sitting around for years....and I still do!  The side of me that wants to make space and order, just wants to chuck it all to the nearest Goodwill store.

 

Getting back to your situation, I think that if your main priority is to be frugal, and you are finding yourself spending money on equipment to be more frugal, then that is not really being that frugal, and is also adding to your clutter levels! 

 

If you gain real pleasure from the process of making candles or lotions, then that is another ballgame....because it is also a hobby for relaxation then. But if your stressing about the amount of stuff needed for each of your interests, then that defeats the purpose of doing it for leisure and pleasure.

 

Maybe you need to cut down how many things you do.

 

For example, if you currently do candles, lotions, herbs, meat dehydrating, and canning.....then choose 2 or 3 that you want to do and stop doing the others, which will simplify your life.

post #8 of 21

I find it helps to set deadlines for projects. If I have not done it in X time, it is not for me right now and the associated stuff has to go. For seasonal stuff, it needs to live in dead storage and not be in the way.

Work on a few projects at once and see what sticks.

post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

I guess I just need to set priorities and try to decide what I will and will not do (realistically).  I've been really good about it so far, I think, and I only get stressed out a bit when I have a kitchen full of ripe tomatoes and very little time in which to try to make sauce and can it.  But that's not really a bad kind of stress, and I certainly don't regret it when I'm eating my home-canned pasta sauce in January.  I'd let everything else go before I gave up my homemade food.

 

It just stinks to throw something away when I know I could be doing something with it.  It's much easier to donate something, but I don't think Goodwill would want my half-burned candles!  My grandma, who was a child during the Depression, took care of me when I was growing up, and I have a lot of her "waste not, want not" mentality.  I could easily end up with a housefull of "useful" stuff.  I find it almost physically painful to throw away something that could be used.  I suppose in a perfect world I'd have time to recycle and repurpose every little thing that I could, but reality dictates otherwise.  Maybe I could just set a limit for myself, like one small bin with all the ointment.lotion/candle/etc supplies.  When it's full, it's time to make something or toss it!

 

post #10 of 21

First, can I have a link to how to do the candle thing?  I have so many candle stubs...

 

I think that prioritizing is key but also organization.  One box for candle stubs.  When it is full, make them. 

 

I start seeds each year.  It takes a lot of stuff.  I had to figure out how to store it the 10 months I'm not using it.  The initial investment was larger than expected but it is totally paying off.  And now that I found a storage solution it no longer drives me crazy to have the stuff out.

 

ETA: I also have a problem throwing out useful containers and "good" boxes.  So I have a small stack of good boxes.  I have designated one vanity to hold good containers.  If it is full, clearly I have too many can can toss.  Haven't yet gotten to that point yet.

post #11 of 21

You do what ya gotta do, including throwing things away - but you might consider posting on Freecycle the kinds of things you have like candle stubs, and ask if anyone wants to do a monthly pickup of whatever you have. If you did that, you'd still have to keep them, but only for a little while and then they'd be gone. You could just have a box for it, and it wouldn't get overfilled. From my own experience with Freecycle, I bet there are people who actually want your candle ends.

post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 

Here's the candle link:  http://chickensintheroad.com/house/crafts/easy-striped-candles/

 

I should be starting seeds right now.  Or rather, a month ago.  I just don't have the time/inclination this year.  It will cost more, but I'm going to buy seedlings this time around.  We're too busy trying to get our house in shape to sell.  See?  I can prioritize!

 

It is much easier to get rid of things when I know someone can use them.  Made my own down sleeping bag for backpacking before I had DS, but I still had lots of fabric scraps and pieces from other sewing projects that never happened.  And I hate to sew, honestly.  The fabric sat in a bin in the basement for 3 years before I decided I was never going to make it a priority to get it back out and work on it.  I was able to sell it on a backpacking forum, and I had no problem letting it go to someone who would use it.  I need to find someone to do that for my scrapbooking stuff.  It was a nice idea, but I'm not that creative.  I could probably take it to one of the local scrapbooking supply stores where they have classes and such and donate it to them.  I'm sure they'd take it.  Hmmm....

post #13 of 21
I know what you mean, I can't stand throwing anything away because I can always see the potential -- but I don't always have the time/energy/drive to follow through with the ideas so it's not always worth hanging onto things. And many things are in constant supply (say, toilet paper tubes or something) -- so those are the easy things to toss into the recycling bin because you know you'll always have a chance to gather more when you actually want to use them. Other things like candles (or crayon pieces!) you will want to save if you really do plan to do something with them eventually... it's a hard balance to strike!! And especially when one of the main purposes is being frugal, it's tempting to hold on to things that will save you money down the line (spare computer parts, perhaps!) Sometimes you can get things through freecycle or ask friends & family to collect them for you... so if it's something you could likely get a hold of pretty quickly/easily/free then I'd toss it, otherwise I'd save it but make sure you follow through & if you haven't done anything with it after several months then you probably can get rid of it...
post #14 of 21

Thank you!!!!!!!

 

Now I just need to find/buy wicks.  I have a ton of candles that are almost burnt down from lots of entertaining this year.  This is awesome.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by diana_of_the_dunes View Post

Here's the candle link:  http://chickensintheroad.com/house/crafts/easy-striped-candles/

post #15 of 21

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post

It's a balance, and only you can find it.

 

Take candle ends. Some people would put them in a jar and feel a little swell of happiness that they will use it. They'll note how many ends there are and think "hey, only a few more and I can make a new one!"

 

Others will say "what the hell am I gonna do with this? As if I don't have enough crap around the house anyway."

 

Both are perfectly valid. If you are not feeling the pleasure of keeping it, chuck it!

 

You will have more motivation to keep some things than others. If keeping something isn't a pleasure, don't.

 

Right now I have a pressure canner stored awkwardly under an extra dining room chair. In my case, when I look at it, I don't think "great, more junk" but "cool, I can't wait to do my first real batch of canning this summer." But you know what? I've been saving oatmeal containers for a while because they look so darn reusable. But they are junk to me. I have no idea what to do with them. No plans. I should get rid of them one way or another.



What a fabulous way of looking at this issue. I always feel guilty for, say, throwing out the little wax bits left when one of my kids breaks a crayon because I feel like I should be melting them down to make new crayons or making some kind of craft project with them. Inevitably, though, having all sorts of little things lying around waiting for me to "do something" with them causes stress and adds to the clutter I'm trying so hard to avoid. The portion of the post I bolded is wise, practical, and liberating. Thanks for sharing.

post #16 of 21

 

I'd say, do what gives you the most benefit, and what you enjoy the most. The candles? Pfft. Toss 'em, or if you _already_ have a friend who would like them, give them to the friend. (For that matter, do you even need to burn candles at all, or could you simplify the candles themselves out of your lifestyle?)
 
For the food preservation, is canning worth it? It wouldn't be for me - I might freeze and/or dehydrate, but the canning would be too much equipment and fuss. I can use up excess tomatoes just as well in frozen tomato sauce as in canning jars.
 
I read an interesting piece of advice from an advocate of local/sustainable food: They pointed out that buying local organic produce and saving the excess (as, for example, that same frozen tomato sauce :)) fulfills many of the same goals that growing your own garden produce would. So if you don't have time for gardening but you feel guilty buying produce that was transported a thousand miles, buy it when it's in season locally and preserve it as if you'd grown it.
 
Lotions? I'd buy them from someone who makes and sells them in an environmentally sensitive way. Or if you have a friend who loves making them as a hobby, maybe you could trade that friend some of your frozen tomato sauce for the lotion. 
 
In general I'd say, pretend that you're in a village and choose some things to get from others, rather than pretending that you're a lone homesteader with no resources outside your own home.
 
Crayfish
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissMaegie'sMama View Post

 



What a fabulous way of looking at this issue. I always feel guilty for, say, throwing out the little wax bits left when one of my kids breaks a crayon because I feel like I should be melting them down to make new crayons or making some kind of craft project with them. Inevitably, though, having all sorts of little things lying around waiting for me to "do something" with them causes stress and adds to the clutter I'm trying so hard to avoid. The portion of the post I bolded is wise, practical, and liberating. Thanks for sharing.

Yes, this. Welcome to our extra room and basement. It truly needs a purge.
 

 

post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crayfish View Post

For the food preservation, is canning worth it? It wouldn't be for me - I might freeze and/or dehydrate, but the canning would be too much equipment and fuss. I can use up excess tomatoes just as well in frozen tomato sauce as in canning jars.
 
I read an interesting piece of advice from an advocate of local/sustainable food: They pointed out that buying local organic produce and saving the excess (as, for example, that same frozen tomato sauce :)) fulfills many of the same goals that growing your own garden produce would. So if you don't have time for gardening but you feel guilty buying produce that was transported a thousand miles, buy it when it's in season locally and preserve it as if you'd grown it.
 


Canning is totally worth it to me, both from the standpoint of eating locally, as well as emergency prep.  DH and I are working to be more self-sufficient in terms of food, and growing/preserving our own food is very important to us.  We do buy local produce from our farmer's market as well.  It can be stressful, but very worth it to us for peace of mind.  

 

The lotions and such...  Eh, I could take it or leave it.  I wanted to make a few of my own herbal ointments for sore muscles and such.  It was an easy process, but I don't think it's something I'm going to be doing often.  Still, it was fun to acquire a new skill, even if I don't do it all the time.  I think I may take my excess supplies and give them to a friend who is interested in that kind of thing.

 

post #19 of 21

I love this explanation of the origins of the word frugality (from Your money or your life):

Latin root "frug" means virtue, "frux" means fruit or value, "frui" means to enjoy or have use of. So

Frugality is enjoying the virtue of getting good value for everything you have the use of (also your time). So frugality means to enjoy what we have.

Waste happens when you have something you are not using or enjoying.

 

I'm with Crayfish - for me the peace of mind of having little stuff wins over self-sufficiency and thriftiness. But, I only keep a few tiny candles that burn fully (for the dark winter months) and straight oil is great as a lotion (and you can use it for cooking too). Buying more local produce and things from small nearby businesses is good. And with a lot of things, just doing without.

 

post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristyMarie View Post

 

I start seeds each year.  It takes a lot of stuff.  I had to figure out how to store it the 10 months I'm not using it.  The initial investment was larger than expected but it is totally paying off.  And now that I found a storage solution it no longer drives me crazy to have the stuff out.

 

ETA: I also have a problem throwing out useful containers and "good" boxes.  So I have a small stack of good boxes.  I have designated one vanity to hold good containers.  If it is full, clearly I have too many can can toss.  Haven't yet gotten to that point yet.


I used to think we needed a bunch of *stuff* to start seeds every spring to.  Until I came across a picture of seedlings growing in eggshells!  So now when planting time comes I am careful with cracking my eggs and then we fill with a bit of soil, bet them in an egg carton and plant.  So easy!  When it comes times to transplant just crack the shell some more and plant.  Any seeds that don't come up then that egg shell goes back in the compost.
 

 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Organize & Declutter
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Organize & Declutter › When simplifying and being frugal means more stuff