Thursday, March 6, 2014

De-cluttering - What about the old philosophies? - #1 - Gifts

Old philosophy #1: "If you spent good money for it, or it was a gift, so someone else spent good money for it, you should keep it."

This is a hard one. No one wants to waste their money. No one wants to think of crumpling up a twenty dollar bill (or more) and putting it into the trash can...or through the shredder...or, as people used to say, down the toilet.

But let's look at some of the ways we spend our money, other than buying "things"...just to dig a little deeper  into why we do what we do.

Perhaps you travel somewhere by airplane. You don't bring the plane home with you (not unless you own the plane, which most of us don't). If you travel by plane, perhaps you rent a car. You don't take the rental car home with you. If you aren't visiting relatives or friends (and, sometimes, if you are), you might stay in a motel. But you don't bring the motel home with you, nor the sheets and towels. But, generally speaking, we don't say, "I threw my money away."  What do we say? Hopefully, it's something along the lines of, "I had a wonderful time!"

We pay for a certain value.

If we go out to eat, we nourish our bodies and we enjoy time with our family or friends. If someone likes to golf, they get a feeling of accomplishment and perhaps camaraderie. If someone goes to a concert, they enjoy the music. At the end of the day, we have nothing to show for the money spent. Perhaps a carton of leftovers for tomorrow's lunch; maybe a scorecard or a program. Maybe some pictures. And that's all. But it's really not all, because what he have are the things of the mind and heart. And we can't put those in a box, or on a shelf, or away in a closet.

Now, I'm not suggesting we don't buy any "things", and I'm not suggesting we don't keep any "things".  But I am wondering if we could apply a similar value rule to the things we buy as we do to our experiences.

Years ago, my dad gave us a bread machine. We used it so much, I bought another one, so we could make two loaves at a time. Later, with less people living at home and a busier life outside the home, I wasn't making bread anymore, so I gave up the bread machines. Although both my father and my husband had worked hard to pay for those bread machines, we had already gotten our value from them, many times over.

If we have gotten our value from something, and we don't use it anymore, maybe someone else could get value from it now. And maybe we could use that space for something else that might bring value to our lives in the present - perhaps that something might be an item we have stored away, or perhaps just more space.

But what if we spent good money for something, but we have never used it? Shouldn't we keep it because we spent all that money to buy it?  Shouldn't we keep it, in case we want to use it some day?  But wait. If we haven't used it, what are the chances we will use it in the future? Maybe we need to own our mistake and move on. Maybe we need to move it on out, so we will stop seeing it and regretting that purchase.

If you are reading this post and you don't know me, you might think I advocate not keeping much of anything. If you knew me, you would know that's not true, as I drive an old car, and I like to give new life to old clothing.  And that's what I plan to write my next post about: should we keep it, so we can fix it some day?

Read De-cluttering - What about the old philosophies? - #2.
         and the previous post, Why is it so hard to dig out of the pack-rat den?

No comments: