Tuesday, February 18, 2014

De-cluttering - What about the old philosophies? - #6

Old Philosophy #6: "You should save your college textbooks, other books, your childhood toys and games, and clothing that no longer fits you, for your children and grandchildren to use some day."

This one is simple: Don't do it! Except...

You might want to save a few things for you children or grandchildren (or nieces or nephews) to use at your house. Just don't saddle your kids with a lot of your stuff, or with guilt if they don't want to take it. 

Maybe you want to keep a few college textbooks that fit your career or hobby, for your own enjoyment or reference. Perhaps you want to keep some children's books to read to your children or grandchildren, or that they can read while visiting at your house. Maybe you want to keep two or three childhood games that you can play with your children or grandchildren. Perhaps you want to keep a few extra coats and hats in the closet, in case someone gets their things wet. 

As I mentioned in another post, sometimes it's good to just keep numbers in mind. You might want to keep a few games, but you don't have to keep 20 games from your childhood, or you don't have to keep 50 games from when your children were growing up...unless you still play all those games on a regular basis. 

As I look at our coat closet - I mean game closet - I think this is as good a place as any to mention something important. Many of us live with another decision maker besides ourselves. We might not always agree on what to keep and what not to keep. If something belongs to someone else (for example, our spouse), we can beg, barter, or cajole; but unless and until they "come around" to our way of thinking, it's basically not ours to dispose of.

Any thoughts you'd like to share? 

Thursday, February 06, 2014

De-cluttering - What about the old philosophies? - #5

Old Philosophy #5: "You should keep old things, like holey socks, because you might need them in an emergency or in an economic downturn."

Yesterday, we experienced an emergency. I didn't need any holey socks. I was glad, though, to have an old somewhat-worn blanket on hand, which I'd been debating whether or not to keep. We didn't end up needing it, as the electricity came on before we went to bed. But I was glad I had it for the peace of mind, as it brought the number of additional blankets up to what I hoped would be just enough. There are many, right now, in my area and other areas, who are without power, trying to find ways, no doubt, to be warm, or at least to keep from freezing.

Although I was happy I had that old yellow blanket, looking back, I realize there are three reasons why I hadn't gotten rid of it. I love the color; it had belonged to my son who passed away two years ago; and also, I have a long-standing personal philosophy that "you can never have too many blankets". I came up with this personal mantra decades ago, when I was considering baby gifts for friends; but as I had more children, its value became more apparent. Even with our children grown now, you never know who might be staying for a visit or a transition.

But when it comes to socks, I have to admit, when I replace them because they have holes in them, I throw away the old ones. Personally, I don't really see much value in holey socks unless it's all I've got. In an economic downturn, I would undoubtedly have holey socks soon enough (been there, done that), without having saved a drawer full of them. But to save them, on purpose, ahead of time?  Someone once said about this depression philosophy of saving worn out clothing, "In a depression, we would be depressed to have all these worn out things."

Rather than indiscriminately saving old things, in case we might need them in an emergency, what if we were to be pro-active about planning for an emergency?  I'm not referring to the long-term apocalyptic preparations that some people make. Although I don't criticize those, it's not my way. I'm referring to the emergencies that occur somewhere in the world every day and could occur in our world. How about having a small portable snack in our purse or backpack, and non-perishable foods, that don't require heating, in our homes?

How about having a way to get help - or just to stay in touch with people - during an emergency? We still have a landline phone, so one of the things I've saved is an old corded phone that I can plug in during a power outage...and yes, it works without electricity,  provided the phone lines are good. But this is only true if it's truly a landline, which I realized when I was going to loan this phone to my neighbor. She has Comcast phone service, and Comcast was down.

And what about alternative ways to charge the cell phone, besides plugging it into the wall? I was glad, yesterday, to have finally gotten a phone for which I could get (and had gotten) a car charger.

Now let's go back, for just a moment, to the idea of preparing for an "economic downturn". If you live where you own your home outright, and maybe you grow your own food, and maybe you have skills you would be able to barter; then perhaps you would have no need to move, and maybe saving old things might work for you in such an emergency, if you have room for them. But for some people, if hard times were to come, it would mean moving....in order to take a new job, or to live for a bit with a relative or friend, or just to downsize to a lower rent or mortgage payment. In some cases, "saving stuff" for an economic downturn might just be counter-productive.

But blankets? We can always use them to pack our stuff in, right? Actually, as I said in my last post, I believe you can collect too many of  pretty much anything. So you might not want to take my "you can't have too many blankets" mantra too seriously and accumulate way more than you need. And we an always offer old blankets to shelters or, if very worn, to an animal shelter.

But now, I need to go research how to mend a certain yellow blanket.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

De-cluttering - What about the old philosophies? - #4

   Old Philosophy #4: "If you can remake it, or you might be able to use it in another way some day, you should keep it for when you have time to do that."

Like the other philosophies that were passed down from the depression, this is another one that can be good or bad.

This isn't about simple repairs, which I talked about in another blog post. This is the "reuse" in "reduce, reuse, recycle", but people were doing it long before that expression became popular. When I was a child, I had an aunt who was struggling financially. One year, to make Christmas gifts for my sister and me, she cleaned out old bleach bottles. She added little pieces of felt to make them look like pigs, and she punched a hole in each bottle for us to put money in. It was the best piggy bank ever, I recognized the love that went into it, and it was one of my favorite gifts.

Whole books and blog posts demonstrate the many ways we can reuse various items in other ways. My Repurposed Life is a blog I sometimes visit, just for fun. I simply enjoy the author's projects, ideas, and the visual appeal. This woman loves to take a piece of old furniture and make something new and beautiful.

When we re-use things, sometimes we make something beautiful and other times we just need something useful. For example, over the years, I've often saved glass jars...to dispose of grease, to store beans or grains, or to save pocket change or buttons. But I've found the key to control - hey, let's not forgot these posts are about de-cluttering - is to pick a number. Maybe the number is five or maybe it's three. Depending on the type of item, and our needs or hobbies, it could be a larger number, but the idea is to have a definite number. By saving only that number, and putting the rest in the recycle bin or garbage, we can keep the clutter down, as we go along.

I've learned to try to only save things to reuse, which we know we will actually use, and to limit the number. What about you? Do you save things to re-use? What do you save and how do you re-use it?