Friday, May 16, 2014

How Much Is Enough? Your Frugal Question of the Day.

Ever feel like you are drowning in "stuff"?  If so, ask yourself, what is enough?  Today I found an article in my Facebook Newsfeed about an airline ticket that costs $32,000.  The author asks how much luxury do you need? And I'd like to extend that to all of you -- what do you really need?  An excellent question when you are faced with the onslaught of inexpensive, throw away products that have become so prolific in modern America.

Cleaning out my mother's home after her death and being responsible for the same task for a client through my legal work has focused my efforts on the unnecessary in our home.  One day, hopefully decades from now, someone will be charged with finding my belongings a new home.  Why put off for tomorrow what you can do today?  Why pay to house stuff that means little and might one day be used, or not.  Remember, space costs money.  And I would rather put my money towards life experiences and high-quality food than items.

If you are with me on this path, here are a few things that I have found helpful in keeping the clutter and piles of stuff at bay:
  • Find a preschool type program at your library, place of worship, neighborhood school or preschool.  I am amazed at what those littles one an their teachers can do with trash.  Below is a photo of my discarded Thank You card box (purchased to thank those who honored my mother at her memorial) reappearing as a cash box at the monthly bake sale.  Designate one box in your home to place discards, drop it off weekly or monthly, and give new life to items you do not need.
  • The above mentioned places are also a great place to direct unwanted kitchen items -- from utensils in their kitchen to pots and pans in the sandbox, the creativity is limitless.
  • Discontinue subscriptions to magazines, newspapers, etc.  If you cannot do this, then donate them monthly to senior centers or libraries.
  • Give it away.  Tonight the crib my daughter used for nearly 4 years (3 as a crib, 1 as a day bed) is going to the home of a fellow UU.  It will be used for visits the family expects from twin nieces that joined the family.  I did not bother attempting to sell a crib on Craigs List -- a time consuming and not very profitable move.  Instead we passed on the generosity we received from others, pay it forward!
  • Donations to thrift stores.  I prefer Savers where I receive a coupon for 20 to 30% off my next purchase.  That amount is far more than what I received at consignment stores.  Or just take the tax deduction if you itemize.  Caution -- empty your pockets or cushions first.  I also saw a story today about 3 college kids you found $40,000 in a $20 used couch they bought at a thrift store.  A man had used the couch as a bank, died, and his widow donated it never knowing.  Amazing story, and a good reminder to check those pockets. 
  • Borrow instead of buy.  From books to music to movies, turn to your library or friends instead of a store shelf.
  • Go digital whenever possible.  In my work world paper still matters, but for many items digital is the way to go.  For example, all of our recent tax returns are digital.  Back-up, back-up and never trust a government or financial entity to keep the forms -- they can and do loose them.  But digital is a great way to reduce paper.  Just remember to keep the format up-to-date.......anyone remember floppy disks?
That is all I have for now.  Post a comment if you have another idea or story to share.  Thanks for reading, and have a lovely and frugal weekend.

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