I spent some time this week, once again, rummaging through junk in the storage junk guest room in order to get it ready for guests. This spare room in our house is a necessity since all of our family members live out of town, but it does become the stashing spot during the weeks we aren’t expecting guests. Right now, the bed is covered with Easter basket stuff and spring decor. As Caroline and I loaded the CR-V with “stuff” to take to Goodwill, I felt a relief to be getting rid of the things cluttering up this room. Things I had no need for elsewhere in my house but felt, for some reason, that I needed to keep them, just in case I decided I needed or wanted them. Enough! I got rid of the stuff. But, as we dropped the stuff off in the Goodwill drive-thru, I mentioned to Caroline that we should go check out what they have in the store. “Yeah,” she said, “We can get more stuff.” Then it hit me. We just dropped off this junk, and we certainly don’t need more of it. (Of course, we did make a run through of the store, just in case they might have a trivet for my kitchen collection.) I explained to Caroline that, though we often think it does, stuff does not make us happy. In fact, stuff stressed us out–how to keep it clean, where to put it, how much it cost us, etc. I don’t know that she was listening, but I was mostly talking for my own benefit.

Then, that night, I read this blog post on Frugal Hacks, a site that I just this week added to my google reader. In quick summary, think of the space that junk in your house occupies in terms of the square footage value of your home. That 10×10 guest room that a guest can never use because the hundred square feet is chock full of junk is costing $$. Those big storage facilities on every other corner charge $1-$7 per square foot. In Austin, your junk storage home value is more in the $100 square foot range!

I can’t stop thinking about it. And looking at the stuff in my house in a totally different light. This stuff is occupying precious real estate. I don’t need to save things in the hopes of being frugal. I need to NOT BUY things in respect for the value of the space that is my home.

The books I own are weighing heavily on my mind. My husband, though frugal in most ways, loves his books and wants to keep them always and forever. But, man, books take up a lot of room. The library (and thanks to TexShare, I have access to Austin, Cedar Park, and Leander libraries plus Interlibrary Loan) has almost everything I could want, and the Internet offers what I need in terms of reference materials. I’m really struggling with acquiring books. Of course, I adore books, and it is always a great default gift idea that I offer up anytime a loved one asks. But, do I need them? Do I need to own them and then have to store them? Do I need to continue buying more and more bookshelves on which to store them?

Someone remind me of this the next time I am in Half Price Books. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Stuff

  1. I stopped buying books a long time ago. I only get ones that are parts of collections (Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl) and those I get first editions (they’re collectors items!), but other than that, if I am gifted a book, I read it and pass it on. I use the library all the time. I have an excellent search-and-reserve aspect of my library and can order things out of the district library system (from libraries in other districts in MN and WI). So, there’s no need for me to buy any books.

    Mike kept all his text books. I kept some of the literature and psychology texts, but the rest I sold back (I was poor then). I would eventually love to have a real study or library in my house (one different than the one I have now), and then I can see having book-cases built into the walls and filled with collector books and reference books. But, for now that’s just my dream house (it’s also totally green, solar heated, windmill powered and very likely on Johnny Depp’s island).

    In general, I have, in the past 5 years, become more “anti-consumer” in my mindset. We are such a consuming society that it takes almost a negative mindset about it to maybe get to neutral. Our economy is entirely consumer based and so much of what we do is so consumer driven, it’s hard to pull yourself out of it and really STOP buying. Especially when you have kids. And goods that are too cheap to pass up. Why not buy another pair of shoes for her, they’re so CUTE and they’re so CHEAP! Why not the Scooby Doo gardening gloves? Why not matching cover-ups for all of her five swimsuits? See? It is so easy to get carried away.

    But, it’s not good for us (financially), our kids (developing their priorities) and the planet (with so much waste, and taking advantage of people who live in areas with bad or absent labor laws).

    So, I’m with ya, and it needs to be almost a religion to resist the stuff!

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