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Tue Dec 20, 2011, 07:57 PM

Where does one draw the line between being frugal and being an OCD packrat?

I fight this tendency daily.

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Reply Where does one draw the line between being frugal and being an OCD packrat? (Original post)
canoeist52 Dec 2011 OP
Curmudgeoness Dec 2011 #1
Starboard Tack Dec 2011 #2
maddezmom Dec 2011 #3
Starboard Tack Dec 2011 #4
maddezmom Dec 2011 #6
Starboard Tack Dec 2011 #7
jwirr Dec 2011 #5
Curmudgeoness Dec 2011 #18
jwirr Dec 2011 #19
Curmudgeoness Dec 2011 #20
Phentex Dec 2011 #8
stuntcat Dec 2011 #14
yardwork Dec 2011 #9
cbayer Dec 2011 #10
yardwork Dec 2011 #11
MH1 Dec 2011 #12
lumberjack_jeff Dec 2011 #13
Kennah Dec 2011 #15
badhair77 Dec 2011 #16
cbayer Dec 2011 #17
laundry_queen Dec 2011 #21

Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Tue Dec 20, 2011, 08:12 PM

1. I would draw that line when

you cannot navigate your house for all the things that you have collected. Or you are ashamed to have visitors because of the collection of "this could come in handy some day" objects.

But I know just what you are saying....I think that you have to have a little OCD to deal with frugality. But "a little OCD" is not a bad thing.

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Tue Dec 20, 2011, 08:37 PM

2. I don't equate being a packrat with frugality. On the contrary.

Compulsive hoarding of stuff can be very problematic in many ways. Holding on to stuff you don't need or never use. Availability of space. Lack of recycling. Fire hazard. Clutter. Possible psychological issues.
Frugality is about efficiency in terms of finances and resources. Letting go of things we don't need so they can be recycled or serve the needs of others. Sharing. Reducing our carbon footprint. Curbing our consumerism. Being creative.

By nature, I am a pack rat. Had lots of room as a kid. That didn't last. Then moving around from town to town, country to country, really put a damper on things. Transported crap all over the place or bought it all again. Storage bills. I saw gypsies and wondered how they did it. Not that complicated really. Figured out what I needed and if there was any room left, prioritized the things I really wanted. Then tried fitting them all into the smallest space I could comfortably live in. An apartment in Manhattan was a learning experience. Finally graduated to a boat. That was 21 years ago and I still force myself to let go of things every day, but it gets easier every day.

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Tue Dec 20, 2011, 09:52 PM

3. I only keep what I know I'm going to possibly be able to use in the near future or have a plan

to use long term and recycle and donate everything else I no longer need or want. I find when I keep all my treasures organized, neat and ready to get to I'm a better at reusing instead of storing and hoarding. I usually do a big clean sweep after the holidays because I've gotten so much of the stuff out to do crafts, etc and then have all the bags, boxes, ribbons from the holidays. If I find stuff I thought I'd redo, remake or use again that I haven't it's time to do something with it.

I also do the same thing about 3x a year with clothing(since my kids grow like weeds)...give it away, save for projects, etc.

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Response to maddezmom (Reply #3)

Wed Dec 21, 2011, 03:00 AM

4. Talking of crafts and recycling

My better half just made 4 beautiful cushions with her new sewing machine. She recycled the stuffing out of half a dozen tatty old cushions and gave our home a whole new African theme.

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Response to Starboard Tack (Reply #4)

Wed Dec 21, 2011, 07:30 PM

6. she's a crafty gal

would love to see some pics. Maddie recycled some stuffing to make hats, since our newest dog ate one of T-man's pillows.

here is a pic of the holiday hat on Cusco:



and here is a picture of my newest pup, Copper:



He's a young lad but is stumping me and Mads most of the time to figure out what to do with remnants of shoes, pillows, nylons shorts,area rugs(especailly those with fringe) etc. He is a terror. But love him to death....after destroying stuff all day he acts like a cat and sleeps on my lap.

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Response to maddezmom (Reply #6)

Wed Dec 21, 2011, 07:42 PM

7. Aw, very cute.

Pix of cushions coming soon

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Wed Dec 21, 2011, 02:40 PM

5. I often get comments for relatives because I have this plastic box of candles setting in my room.

What do you want with them? Well I like to go to rummage sales and I don't always have a lot of money to spend so I started buying candles - some new orthers used. They often cost ten cents each and who knows when you might need a candle.

What helps with my collecting is that I have a good size family and the kids have gotten used to asking great grandma if she has something they need before they go to buy it.

I never buy craft thing because I never get the things done. I am working on 5 quilts for the babies but am kicking myself because I forgot this little fact. In fact I am using DU as an excuse to stay away from them right now.

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Response to jwirr (Reply #5)

Tue Dec 27, 2011, 06:52 PM

18. I love candles. And (frugal alert), I make my own

with the leftover wax from candles that are burned down. I have a big jar where I put all the wax remnants, and when I get a bunch of it, it is candle-making time. I just have to buy wicks and scented wax. I use the jars that my burned candles came in. A project, but only needs one day every year or so. (Which is good, because I am just like you----I find all sorts of reasons not to get to things that I should be doing!)

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #18)

Wed Dec 28, 2011, 12:00 AM

19. That is a good idea. I did get the quilts done. The whole family has been watching me progress on

them so I had no choice but to get them done on Christmas eve. It was worth it - kids finished opening their presents and then got the quilts which they immediately demanded their daddy put on their beds. I told them that the quilts are "for when you are feeling bad or feeling sad or even when you are feeling glad - then wrap yourself in them and remember all the fun times we have had."

They are my way of being with them even when I am gone. At 70 I thought it was time to give them a connection with me they could have forever.

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Response to jwirr (Reply #19)

Wed Dec 28, 2011, 07:07 PM

20. Awwwww, how sweet. I am glad you finished the quilts.

My mother used to make quilts, and when she passed away, all of us got one. We all cherish them.

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 11:07 AM

8. As mentioned above, organization and review is key...

it's wasteful to hoard and keeping things you forget about is a sure way to repurchase them. I am guilty of hoarding paper for card making and really nice stationery. I'll think about saving it for just the right occasion and before you know it, I've got too much or I have forgotten about it. So I try to use it or lose it.

My problem is lack of storage. I will buy and store something only when I know its something I use on a regular basis.

What do you tend to packrat?

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Response to Phentex (Reply #8)

Fri Dec 23, 2011, 06:55 PM

14. ooo paper yeah..

I have pretty papers all stacked so neatly! But whenever I can use bits of it then I'm glad I have it.

I'm crazy about containers.. any size or shape of box. And bottles or cups or jars, anything that has a lid. Also things that hold things together.. ribbons and rickrack and stuff. Once in a while I'll find a perfect use for something, like years after I saved it! I get real proud

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 11:35 AM

9. I struggle with this too, and I found that buying less is a good approach.

The ultimate in frugality is to not acquire something in the first place. I used to shop to relax. If I shopped at a tag sale I felt that I was being frugal, but stuff is stuff. Now I try not to buy things in the first place unless I am going to use it right away. I follow the same approach when deciding whether to keep something or not. Will I use this glass jar immediately? If so, I put it to use. If not, I toss it in recycling.

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Response to yardwork (Reply #9)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 12:02 PM

10. Me, too. I rarely shop for anything other than food and other provisions

that are getting low.

I was recently on a trip where my baggage was "misplaced" for several days. I had a trip insurance policy that allowed me up to $150 a day to replace what was in my bags. I looked around and everything that I saw I concluded I did not need. So I bought nothing.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #10)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 12:05 PM

11. It can be a revelation. We are programmed to buy buy buy.

I have a hoarder in my family and I see the same tendencies in myself, so in recent years I've made an effort to buy less and recycle more. I regularly clean out my closets and donate things to thrift stores. I sell my books at a used bookstore and get store credit to buy more. I have more energy and feel happier with less clutter around me.

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 12:56 PM

12. Have a strategy for saving/discarding items that have potential reuse.

If you don't have a strategy, then just saving things willy-nilly because you don't want to throw them away, has probably crossed that line that you're concerned about.

By strategy I mean something like this: I save glass jars of useful sizes. Sure, I could recycle them, but often I find that a small honey jar is just the right size for something. So, I set aside a space where I save useful-looking glass jars. (The un-useful-looking ones get recycled immediately). When the space fills up, I either don't save any more, or I first toss at least one item to make room for the better item I want to save. Often at that time I'll review the whole space and find I've saved 6 of something I rarely use, so maybe I'll keep one and toss the rest.

That's just an example. I try to do that with everything that I have trouble discarding. (I'm not 100% successful at it, but my house isn't too cluttered, so I'll give myself at least a B-minus.)

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 06:53 PM

13. when it no longer saves you money.

If you rent a storage unit to hold plastic bags that you intend to reuse some day, you're a packrat.

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Sun Dec 25, 2011, 01:28 AM

15. Being a packrat can be the antithesis of frugal

I am an Email packrat, and mostly because it's easy to do, for me, it's cheap to store the .pst files, and it's a useful archive. However, there is plenty of Email I delete before it archives.

With paper, I like electronic copies of bank statements and such. For other papers I receive, scanning and archiving reducing paper clutter and gives one a searchable archive.

When clothes sit in the closet or drawer for too long, I take a look and ask myself, "Am I ever going to wear this?" If not, then I Goodwill it.

I think that less stuff tends to be associated with greater frugality, particularly if the stuff we keep has some real use or meaning.

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Mon Dec 26, 2011, 05:28 PM

16. I can be somewhat OCDish about holding on to things.

But then I take a spiritual approach to it and realize if I'm holding on to it and don't need it I'm not opening myself to new things. My hands are not free to accept something different and maybe better. This goes for possessions and emotional baggage.

It's a lot easier to travel light so I have to work on this vast assortment of "collectables" taking up space in my home.

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Mon Dec 26, 2011, 05:43 PM

17. Living in a very small space helps with this.

One rule a lot of boating liveaboards use is that you have to take something off the boat every time you bring something on.

New books, got to get rid of some old ones.

New bedding, the old gets tossed or recycled.

I also try to use the rule that if I haven't used it (worn it, etc) for a year, I most likely can get rid of it.

Not perfect at this by any means, but life is so much easier when you have less stuff.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #17)

Sat Dec 31, 2011, 02:26 AM

21. A year is my general rule too

If I haven't used it in a year, and don't see myself using it in the next few months, and it's relatively inexpensive and easy to replace should I suddenly NEED one asap, then out it goes. I have a few exceptions (my sewing and knitting stuff) but everything else is judged by that rule. Another rule I have is if I have, say, multiples of something, I try to get rid of at least half. If I have 10 perfectly useable glass jars, and plan on using a few but not all immediately, then I'll recycle 5 of them. Same with boxes or bags. If I"m worried I might need them, I still force myself to get rid of half of them. Generally, I never need the ones I got rid of anyway. And just getting rid of *some* of what you have can make a ton of space available.

My biggest clutter issue is my kids' toys. I have 4 kids - that means a lot of toys (they are the only grandkids on both sides of the family too). It's hard to get them to get rid of toys they rarely use. I've tried to organize what they do have, but they never put things back in the right bins and before you know it, there are birthday party loot bag toys, mixed in with playdoh, barbies and the odd sock, lol. Every 6 months or so I challenge them to fill a garbage bag full of toys, and usually they are only able to fill half - even with my prompting of how they haven't played with this for over a year and some other little boy or girl would probably love it, how happy it would make them, etc. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I try not to force them though - I remember coming home to some of my favorite toys missing because my mom thought "you don't need those and they were baby toys anyway" and how devastated I was! Hopefully allowing them to make those decisions will be good practice for the future. Before my 'one year' rule I had a hard time with those kind of decisions. After seeing a few episodes of hoarders, I decided I had to make myself a rule and stick to it. It's worked well for me.

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