Tuesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
I read a story over at Get Rich Slowly about hoarding (Cleaning House: When Little Messes Become Big Problems) that stuck with me for days. There are a couple of lessons I took away about hoarding – the anti-simplicity.
Having Too Much Means Losing Track of What You Have
When the stuff overwhelms, you are no longer sure of what you have, and may end up buying more. I once ended up buying another bottle of corn syrup because I couldn’t find the one I thought I had, and then I began thinking I didn’t have any. I found two unused bottles when I moved out of that apartment.
Keeping Ahead Can Mean Falling Behind
I like the idea of keeping ahead (see How To Get Ahead of the Game). However, if you don’t know where you put the stuff for keeping ahead, you will end up replacing it.
A friend of mine bought holiday gifts in October one year and then promptly forgot where she secreted them. She ended up re-doing all of her shopping the week before Christmas, and discovered the cached gifts in February. She doubled her time, doubled her expense, and ended up with toys and clothes outgrown before she gave them.
Quantity May Not Be the Best Bargain
Just because something has a great unit price doesn’t make it a bargain. As the article pointed out, “a bargain is not a bargain if it goes to waste.” I have fallen prey in my time to the five pound bag of Tootsie Rolls. And after that I try to be careful.
On a recent trip to a warehouse store I wanted chicken breasts. They had them for $0.79 per pound and $1.66 per pound. I bought the $1.66 per pound bag. Why? Because there was no way I could fit the 30 pound minimum for the cheaper price into my freezer. Those would have been wasted.
Same with the big containers of stuff no one likes. Sure, the potato salad may be a great buy at $2 for 3 pounds, but if no one eats it, it’s not a bargain, it’s a waste.
Cleaning Infrequently Just Means A Bigger Mess
Little and often is the principle that rules my housekeeping. Early in my marriage I figured out I never wanted to spend an entire Saturday cleaning the house…cleaning made more difficult by the fact it hadn’t been done in months. By doing a little bit every week, it stays cleaner and requires far less effort.
The example in the story led to needing major repairs in a house because cat messes weren’t cleaned up quickly. An extreme story, but it illustrates the power of little and often well.
I had a friend once who couldn’t keep track of his laundry and would just buy more clothes rather than go through what he had or wash. Every time he did laundry, it would mean filling the back of his full-size pickup truck with dirty clothes and going to the laundromat and using 20 washers. If he had done a small load in his apartment every three days, he could have stayed on top of it. Plus there was all the money tied up in the clothes…
Letting Things Go Means Wasted Money
No matter what aspect of this you look at, it all ends up wasting money. Repurchasing gifts, purchasing things that will never be used, letting little jobs become big ones, all of these mean more capital outlay. And the capital is not recoverable, either, like an investment. It’s just as effective to keep things in order, deal with thins before they become big problems, and not flush the money down the drain.
It’s something to think about.
Photo by Jami3.org
Just in case you don’t understand the picture, it’s a hamster. These little critters are famous for their hoarding.