Spending Out

I’ve been reading the book The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin.  It’s a fun book that talks about being more happy with life.  My daughter Kayla suggested the book to me…not that she doesn’t think I’m happy.  She just knew it would be a book that I might like.

One of the sections of the book talks about spending out.  Secretly I think this very idea is why Kayla suggested the book to me.  (If you want to read what the author means about spending out you can read her brief take on it here)  In my case it more or less it goes something like this….

I buy new clothes but save them for good.  I don’t wear them.  I leave them in my closet waiting for the magical “good” day to arrive.  It doesn’t…the clothes just stay there.  I often wear clothes that “aren’t my favorite” just to keep the new clothes nice.  Some people go to a garage sale or thrift store and see clothes with tags on them and wonder why.  I don’t.  The owner was likely saving them for “good” like I do.

I will buy new dish towels.  I have completely ragged ones but will put the new ones in the bottom of pile and only use the ones on top that are really bad…I’m saving the new towels for “good”.

I buy mushrooms thinking I won’t just make plain hamburgers.  I’ll make mushroom and Swiss burgers but then won’t make them because Hubby’s fine with plain hamburgers and I’ll save the mushrooms for when Kalissa and Craig come over for supper.  Then I typically I go to get the mushrooms out of the back of the refrigerator and they are yucky.  I should have just used them!  Then I am frustrated with myself.  I was saving them for “good”.

I do the same with socks and underwear.  I don’t just throw out the old when I buy the new.  I always think…ah, I can get a few more wears…and then my undies slide off my bottom because the elastic is shot…I know…too much info. Why do I do this?  It’s not like buying a new pack of undies is going to break my bank!?!?!

I used to laugh at my mom because she did the same thing…now look.  I’ve become my mother.  (Luckily she was a pretty good lady to become in most other aspects).

So I made a new goal.  I am “spending out” more often.  I am going to use things and not leave them sit in the drawer, refrigerator, or closet.  I know I won’t be completely cured but now I am at least recognizing it.  Just as proof….I did throw underwear out!!  I did go shopping, bought new clothes and have been wearing them!!  The other night I made spaghetti and look…I even used the mushrooms.


You know…it feels pretty good.

I knew I kind of did this small scale food and merchandise hoarding but didn’t have a name for it…now I do…hoarding.  I now know there’s a something to do about it and that’s spending out.  Simple use it and throw the old stuff out!!

One thing I didn’t realize though is that I do this with ideas too.  We’ll have a quilt design and we’ll save it in case we want it for a book.  I’ll have a cute crafty project for the kiddos and I’ll save it.  I’ll have an idea for a blog post..and I’ll save it.  My brain sometimes ends up on overload trying to remember all these things.  I’ve been spending out in this aspect too.  We did a couple projects earlier this week that I had been saving….it was such a relief to not be holding the ideas anymore.  I was always afraid I’d forget the idea or I’d write it down and loose the paper I wrote it on.

Honestly, I need to just trust me that I can come up with more ideas!!

You know…When Kayla recommended the book I was a little surprised by the title because I am happy already….Why would she recommend it to me?  Now I wonder if it was just her way of telling me to use the things she makes for me.  Too often they get set aside because I am keeping them for good too…

I am hoping this old dog can learn a few new tricks because I like this spending out thing.  It feels good to not be hoarding my clothes, ideas, underwear…dish towels…Wait.  I am still hoarding dish towels.  I guess I better go remedy that too…So long dishtowels!!

Tell please…some of you must do this too…RIGHT??  I’m not the only small scale hoarder am I?

29 thoughts on “Spending Out”

  1. When I married my husband I also married the “stuff” that he and his first wife had accumulated. She passed away suddenly. Looking around us I realized there was a lot of stuff. Nice, expensive stuff. She had surrounded herself with beautiful crystal, china, good movies, clothes…you name it. All sitting there never used. My question was…why? I determined right then to never let that happen to me. I will enjoy the things I have and not wait. In a blink of an eye our wait can be over. If we dont use it, then we need to pass it along and let it bless someone else who will use it. Easier said than done for sure but I am trying. Each day is a celebration, let’s celebrate life with these wonderful things we have been given!

  2. In my files I have an article by Connie Emerson, written for Woman’s Day magazine 3/6/84, titled, “Farewell to Sunday-Best!” The opening paragraph states tonight she is serving dinner using her best china, silverware, and cut-work tablecloth, wearing her new outfit, and she will LIGHT the candles! Why?
    She helped her friend go through her mother-in-law’s possessions, and found ratty things in daily use while gorgeous things were stored away. We all do this to a certain extent, but why don’t we enjoy our possessions to begin with? Somewhere along the way we got sidetracked into “saving” instead of “using.”
    I agree with that author on happiness – if we go ahead and enjoy our stuff now, life will be richer in abundance, and the future will have to take care of itself.

  3. My mom and mother-in-law both kept things put away to “use for good” and never used them. When I married at 18 years old, I needed to use everything I had and I did. Now I may stock up on things when they’re on sale, but they definitely get used. We only live once and we need to enjoy the things we have!

  4. “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do or do without.” I have no idea where I heard/read this, but I’m a hybrid of what you describe. I wear things beyond their use-by date. Then I buy clothes at goodwill when needed. I can afford really nice and new, it just doesn’t matter to me. The flipside: I don’t keep anything stored for new. I buy-I use. I don’t tend to keep stuff I don’t use. (except clothes that I’m too big for because I’m going to lose it someday. This is my biggest current problem).

  5. Yup, I am Guilty too. I save my ” good” clothes, then they don’t fit. I even saved my favorite fabrics for something special- whatever that is. I too am learning to use it. After all, there is always awesome new fabric and I will have an excuse to buy it !

  6. oh yeah, I can relate to this! I’ve been making progress. One thing I ask myself – if I were to die today would my kids care if they inherited this? If not, then use it, enjoy it, wear it out.

  7. The first thing that comes to mind is fabric. When I first started quilting I had to have a stash. Why? Now I don’t like some of the fabric but still I save it. I try not to buy anything but you know I do. I have really gotten into scrap quilts, so the the fabric is having babies.

  8. When my mother passed away at 95 her everyday shoes were held together with tape while her closet contents included a brand new, never worn pair of the same shoes. I also have some of these tendencies. Wonder about what percentage of people do this. Would be an interesting research project for a psychologist. Great post.

  9. Boy that is good food for thought! I too am guilty, fabric, clothes, towels! lol…is it something carried over from the depression,passed down from our parents that we have “learned” I wonder? I do use my antique dishes though, so I need to take that and apply it to the rest of the things in my life that I save for good, later or just in case…….

  10. Jane @ Handiworking

    I remember a story from when I was little about a great aunt that would say, “Use your good stuff girls ’cause if you don’t, his next wife will!” That has stuck with me and I have always used my “good” linens and crystal for every day because if they’re going to get stained or broken, at least I got to enjoy them. You can do it!

  11. A mother and her never married daughter lived together, quilted together, bought fabric together. LOTS of it. More than they could ever use. The daughter got cancer and passed away. The Mom (90ish), moved to a small apartment. She asked my friends and I to help downsize her stash. We had a garage sale where we sold $5,000 worth of fabric at $2 a yard. After that, I vowed to use my “good” fabric first, then if that was ever used up, I would use the scraps and fabric that I didn’t really like. I don’t want someone selling my good fabric for $2 a yard someday, when I could have turned it into a beautiful quilt.

  12. A wise friend once told me, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall. I am my mother after all.” Fabric was the first thing that came to mind. It isn’t practical to use the good china and crystal when you have small children, and candles are impractical when you have pets. But we still don’t use the good stuff once the kids are grown and once the pets are gone, partly out of habit.

  13. This sounds alot like me too! I have always had “good clothes” and “play clothes” ever since I was small. I also have underwear that should be thrown away but seems good enough for me. My hubby and boys always have new clothes, but rarely do I buy new clothes unless it is absolutely necessary. Come to think of it, I still have dish towels in my linen closet that I got at my wedding shower and I still am using the old ones (that was 12 years ago now)! Maybe I’ll have to break out the new ones and delegate the old ones to the rag bag.

  14. I think some of this comes from our mothers who may have lived through the Great Depression and WW II when everything wasn’t as available either through cost or shortages. We were just raised to always save things for special times and it takes real effort to make the special times NOW!

  15. Excellent post…got me thinking! I do the same thing…I wonder if it has anything to do with growing up with very little…we made do and rarely got new. I just went and put on a new top that I bought last fall! Thanks! :o)))

  16. Carolyn Worthington

    Wow! Did this post really touch home with me? What an eye opener! Thanks for being honest with your readers so we can be honest with ourselves. I, too, have dressy clothes in the closet “waiting for the perfect time to wear them. This could also apply to my quilting stash…waiting for the perfect quilt before its used. ?..and waiting and waiting and waiting. Dishtowels? Those I use and purchase a new one here and there, toss out those that are showing “experience” and limit myself to two small drawers. Love your blog!

  17. Jo, you described me to a “t.” I knew it was problematic, but couldn’t figure out the whys and hows to overcome this “save it for good” habit. And who wants to leave this life wearing our raggedy undies while the new stuff gets sent to the Goodwill? LOL Not that the GW isn’t a wonderful charity, but….you know…..I’m tossing those old undies and enjoying more of my saved stuff!!! Thanks, Jo. Now I’m going to get that book!! :o)

  18. ABSOLUTELY.. use the good china, the good silverware, wear the clothes, (thought I do have a pair of good black pants for funerals and hope I never need them or at least don’t need them often)… enjoy the feeling of eating off the good plates and enjoy using what you bought because you loved it. Use the mushrooms, you can buy more next time you are at the store. Life is short and full of nasty surprises… so just have fun and use it up. Your kids won’t mind if they don’t have all your ‘good’ stuff to deal at some time in the future.
    I learnt that from my mother in law… just use it and enjoy. Make the most of every day.

  19. Love this post today! I definitely do this w/my quilting fabric. I love to make scrap quilts and when pulling fabrics I’ll not use the new uncut because I might have scraps I can cut up. I’m really trying to tell myself that I just need to use the new as I can always buy more. I also will do this with some of my clothes. I’ll buy for good and after it’s been in my closet for a year or so I will then decide to just start wearing to work. Could have done that all along!

  20. I really need to get this book. Your description of “you” is also so “me”. I save all the same things “for good”. I think alot of my problem is that we raised 4 children on a very limited budget and I always made sure the kids and husband had what they needed first and I would hoard my newer things as I knew it would be a long, long time before I would get new things. Now the children are grown with their own families and I am still hoarding the new underwear, socks, clothing, dishtowels, bath towels, and shoes. I do use the food as I do not want to have to throw it out because it spoiled. I really will try to make an effort to use my new things. I do have lots of fabric that I have been saving so I need to go through that and pull all the “good” stuff and use it. Thanks for the inspiration and courage to take small steps to overcoming this problem.

  21. Jo, you are so right. I have a belief that when I make a quilt and give it to someone, it is to be used. It does not have to be perfect, but it needs to be finished and given to someone. I hope they enjoy the quilt as much as I enjoyed making the quilt.

  22. Wow, I guess there are a lot of us out there! I know exactly what you are talking about and I am the same way. I realized this about myself a few years ago, and have really been trying to use things and not put them away because they are too “nice”. I find I still really have a difficult time with fabric. I’ll buy a piece that I absolutely love, but I refuse to use it because I want to save it for some mythical “special” project. I have a ton of fabric that I love sitting in my stash bins, but I keep using the stuff that is just so-so. *sigh*

  23. Hi, I have a wonderful friend that always reminds me there will always be more. A lot of us would have to live to at least 200 to use all the fabric! I have partnered with a few ladies and am now making charity quilts with my fabric. I piece, one sandwiches, one quilts and one binds. We take turns so we do not burn out. We have made about 115 since we started last year. Boy, it feels wonderful to make and finish quilts for kids that have nothing. A lot of the quilts go to foster kids and kids in hospitals that need that special hug. As for other things that I hoard, I have to take a page from my daughter. She goes through her closet every 6 months and gets rid of stuff she really does not like. She keeps a certain number of hangers and if she buys something, she gets rid of something, She always looks nice and always wears all her clothes! We all have these little secrets and it feels good to get them off our chests. Now we have to act on all these things so that our lives will be free to do what we want to. Thank you for letting me get this off my chest. Lynn

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