Thursday, July 15, 2010

What Item Are You Most Likely to Hoard?

Coffee Talk Thursday

a supply or fund stored up and often hidden away

Many of us struggle with the tendency to keep more than what we need in certain areas. Even the most organized among us may still find a category where they are tempted to hang on to excess. For my mom, it’s plastic jars. Whether it’s margarine tubs, mayonnaise jars, or Cool-Whip containers, I don’t know if she’s met one yet she can part with. Her cupboards are stashed to the brim.

For me, it’s kids’ clothes. After all, I reason, we have three boys. Keeping most everything and passing it down seems like the most economical option—never mind that we simply have too much anyway. It’s probably my biggest cause of clutter stress, because it seems like I am always coming across yet another extra shirt or shorts or pair of pants that isn’t currently being worn but could be worn by the next child. Then I have to find the right box to store it in, or create a new box. Clothes, clothes everywhere. While I have donated much of our excess to friends or the thrift store, we still have more than we need.

When we identify the areas where we are most likely to hoard, we can start to work through why we’re doing it and how we can begin let go. I think I am tempted to keep the clothes because, let’s face it, it saves money. Why buy a t-shirt or a pair of pants when you have everything you need already stored away? But when I bottom-line it by realizing that, even if I had to start from scratch and buy everything my boys need each season, it would probably cost around $100 for all three of them. Target and Walmart sell shirts for about $3, and you can often find similar priced sale items at other retailers. Plus, I really don’t shop retail anyway. Much of what we buy we find at thrift stores for around $1 (good-quality shoes, shirts, pants, pajamas). So if I got really brave and let everything go, I could replace it. It is within our means. Realizing that helps us feel more comfortable letting go of the excess. Sure, I may have to buy a few things down the road, but the freedom from the clothes-clutter is worth it.

So, what item or category of items are you most tempted to hoard? How can you (or have you) take steps to let go?


  1. I'm trying to think of something I hoard, but can't come up with anything. (I'm sure there's something!) The one thing I do is always make sure that I have soap, toothpaste, paper towels, toilet paper, and tissues on hand. I usually have extra in a closet at all times. In fact, I'm heading out to Wal-Mart right now and have the last 3 items on my list!

  2. My girls are almost 6 months and I'm already having that nagging pain when I try to weed them out. When I hold up a newborn onesie that used to swallow them in January...I become all teary eyed. Most of their clothes were free or from Goodwill, but's hard letting go.

    My thing lately has been jars...In my mind there's something that I could use ALL of the jars that make their way through my kitchen for. So...I have a big stash. My husband hates it...that is until he needs a jar for storage in his Man Cave. Have a great day!!!

  3. Newspapers... I know it sounds crazy but I write for three papers and need to cut out my articles and ship the rest off to the recycling but somehow I don't do it and the pile mounts up and the job gets harder than if I did it regularly... Know what you mean about the clothes... I have been better at getting rid of kids clothes NOW (my son is almost 11 and daughter is almost 5) -- but there are still lots more to go... I am starting to realize that at 48 next month it is unlikely there will be any others so better to let some other child get some use out of them, than having them rot in my basement... but yes, that sentimental pull is there for some items and that's hard to get them off to goodwill!

    We in the Western World have SO much ... we were just doing a writing project about my Grandma's life and some of it was telling how she would rip the lining out of old coats to sew a Christmas dress for her daughter in Grade 2 (this was in the 1950's and early 1960's) -- I think we're struggling but that sort of puts things into perspective...

  4. plastic bags, plastic tubs/containers, magazines, stickers...I hate clutter, so I do regularly throw stuff out, but inevitably when I do I often want the very thing I gave away!

  5. What is your opinion on stockpiling? I am looking into starting to do this with coupons/store sales to get the best deals. The way I would do it is if I started getting too much of something, I would donate any extra to a food bank.

    Do you think this would be considered hording though, to stockpile food, toiletries, etc? Or is it just being prepared and shopping smart?

  6. khaki--
    Yes! I know what you mean! I've donated things and found myself wishing I had a certain item back a short while later. Usually, after a few days, the longing passes again (especially when I remember I really had never it used it that much anyway!) :)

    Ah, Sarah! Good question! It ties in with what Leslie said. I think stockpiling food and toiletries is fine, within reason. I do the same thing. If you know you'll use the products, might as well stock up when you can get them for a great price. Saves money down the road.

    For me, after a certain point, though, my husband was no longer on board. He wanted more "white space" even if it meant I had to buy something at full-price later. (We had this discussion with toothpaste...he didn't want five unopened tubes in the drawer, just the one we were using and maybe a backup) :)

    I think it really boils down to a heart issue. The point when (and if) we're keeping stuff out of anxiety that our future needs may not be provided is, for me, the clue that I've crossed into hoarding territory. Time to let go (within reason) and trust God to meet my current and future needs. Hope that helps!!

  7. A few weeks ago I pulled down some boxes of clothes to pass down to our youngest.

    Then I washed and folded all those tiny pants, shirts, and dresses. Hung them on mini-hangers or stuffed them into drawers that are already filled to the top. Turns out more options means more work!! All for a little one who doesn't have an opinion about fashion.

    Hummm, still, I'm not quite ready to purge, but I might even save less next time (baby steps). :0)

  8. Fabric - I have tons of fabric. Most of it has been given to me by my Grandmother, and I try to sort through it regularly, but how can you decide now what will look good in a quilt later? So - my compromise has been to "shop" in my stash and make all my newest projects with what I have on hand...the only thing I am allowed ot buy is yardage for backs and bindings.

    Otherwise, though, my hubby is a ruthless purger, and, having come from a family of pack-rats I have caught the purging fever too. It does get easier, and if you have trouble getting things to goodwill, join Freecycle, then people come and pick it up at your place - so no excuses or second thoughts!

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  10. My weakness is cardboard boxes - shoeboxes, paper boxes, packing boxes - anything that can be reused. I use the excuse that I might need to ship something (I used to sell on ebay but haven't in a long time). Or I'll save it incase I need it for a gift. About two months ago I cleaned out the boxes. I broke them all down and filled the bed of my husband's small pick-up. I also stumbled on boxes that he had broken down and hoarded too (boxes he didn't even remember bringing into the house). I hauled them all to the recycle center in town. I've continued to break down boxes and recycle them whenever I get one. It's funny because since I stopped hoarding them there have been times when someone could have used a box and I have to say "sorry, they're gone."

  11. Oh boy! Now I have this feeling like I should go through the dozens of boxes in my shed stuffed with curriculum.

  12. I actually recently wrote a post on boys' fall/winter wardrobe and an easy checklist to make sure you have everything you need. Once you do, get rid of the rest. :D

  13. Found your blog..and this post caught my eye. Things that I hoard? Probably food items.