Stuff is Cheap! Living with it Can Be Costly

Chimelle Zizio By Chimelle Zizio, 7th Jan 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Money>Shopping

My personal reflection on over consumption and the resulting clutter, A.K.A. I have too much stuff...

Letting Go Of Storage...

The Winter holidays have ended. All gifts should be out of their packages, being utilized. Efficient individuals have discarded old belongings, making room for new treasures, reducing clutter in their homes.

With the recession, maintaining finances have been an obstacle for many families. Hopefully, most people stayed within their means, avoiding retailer's cunning persuasions to spend entire savings on gift giving. Many stores displayed Christmas merchandise before Hallows Eve. The mass media exuberantly stood by, as promotions for 'must have' toys and electronic gadgets filled commercial airtime.

Opening credit card and bank statements, after the holidays, can be frightening. They lurk in the dark shadow of the bill pile, like venomous snakes. Unfortunately, it isn't rational to run from them and tell a grown up.

I think I managed to stick to my budget a little better than previous years. I even considered re-wrapping my ten year old son's gifts from last year, and re-gifting them to him. He probably wouldn't have known the difference... Instead, I decided to purchase less.

Now, I am examining our new things. The glow in the dark basketball sits on the shelf untouched. It has been raining... The Dagobah Frog Habitat sits empty. We are still waiting for our mail order polliwog, which our son has already named 'Luke', to arrive. I still haven’t cleared enough space on the kitchen table to play safely with the 'build your own volcano' kit.

I tested everything for functionality. When electronics and appliances arrive at my house, they often lose their will to operate. I made sure all the parts were included and ensured they worked the way the instruction manual described. It's rarely the way they made it look on TV... but okay...

My family has a lot of stuff. When our son was born, I bought the various baby products. It seemed important to have them. I wanted him to have all the equipment a baby should have. This is what a good parent would do, right? The baby time went by really fast. He didn't need most of those objects. It wasn't necessary for five different types of ExerSaucers to roll around our living room like some insane solar system. Mankind has managed to walk for thousands of years, without the aid of these various baby training tools. After filling our home with baby paraphernalia, our son chose his favorite toys; a pencil holder, spatula, and a cloth light up eyeball keyring. The personal interactions with my baby were what mattered. Although, I must admit, the soft chew-able books and the baby swing did come in handy. I didn't keep the baby gear, but there was more to come...

The unnecessary baby toys should have given me a clue about the toddler and preschool years. But, after I saw how happy he was playing with another child's toy set, I ventured off to buy him the same set. I figured he could play this way at home. I soon observed, toys are more interesting when they are in another child's house. Then I thought, "Well maybe that set wasn't right for him...". I continued to invest in sets. Some he used, but many went untouched. In all honesty, I was the one who wanted to play with the toys.

I am perfectly content to buy things second hand. I am very good at bargain shopping. Unfortunately, bargains are similar to diet foods. They are at least half off, so I get twice as much.

My family has a history of moving around. We recently opened our 'out of state' storage unit. I compared it to exposing a tomb and unveiling a sarcophagus. I was horrified to revisit piles and piles of mysterious junk. It had been years. I could not remember what was in there. I discovered an entire storage box of Jello packages. This would have been great, if I were a person who fantasized of bathing in Jello. Although, that would have been preferable to dealing with the storage unit, I immediately discarded the Jello collection. We had been paying over a hundred dollars a month to store Jello...

Unfortunately, Jello was not all I found. Among the 'treasures', there were several large boxes of kid's meal toys. If you are what you eat, my son would be a French fry. Did we feed him that much fast food? I threw most of those out. I admit I kept a few. With minor modifications, they make great Christmas tree ornaments. It took days and all my husband's vacation time, to sort through the storage. It was cold, so I wore my scarf and hat. I also wore them to avoid the sight of my husband giving me the hairy eyeball.

I get that same look when we watch the movie 'Labyrinth'. The Junk Lady shows Sarah, played by Jennifer Connelly, all her toys. Sarah realizes its all junk... "Oh, what have we got here? Your little bunny rabbit! You like your little bunny rabbit. Don't you? Yes, yes, yes! There ya go. Oh, and there's Betsy Boo. You remember Betsy Boo? Yes, yes, yes! What's this? Let's have a look. Oh, it's a pencil box. Got lots of pencils in it too! Here's your panda slippers. You know how much you like your panda slippers! You never wanted them thrown away, did you? Now, then, what else? Oh, it's little horsy. You love little horsy, don't you dear? And look at this! You got a printing game. Here's a treasure. You'll want that, won't you dear? Put it on. Make yourself up. And here's dear old Flopsie. You'll want her. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Charlie Bear. There's Charlie Bear for you, hmm?" (Henson, Jim, Labyrinth. Video Henson Associates, 1986.)

I actually discovered a pencil box, panda slippers, a toy horsy and printing games inside our storage unit. However, I am adamant the stuff wasn't entirely all mine...

We packed an entire truck bed full of garbage and hauled it to the dump. We drove the largest trailer we could rent, full of donations, to the thrift store. Prior to piling everything into storage, my bargain shopping included taking advantage of the 'It all must go' sale at the local Toys R Us. Our son had, by now, outgrown these unused toys. He rolled his eyes at me as I became teary eyed, clutching on to his once cherished Woody, Buzz Light Year and friends.

As we left the thrift store, I waved goodbye to what could have potentially been our 'relaxing family vacation fund'. I hoped someone would be happy to discover such bargains; toys new in their packages! I guiltily gave away some belongings to friends. The burden of owning them, is now theirs. I also felt guilt for being a consumer of so much plastic and waste. We finally reduced our ten by fifteen storage unit down to a five by five unit and a jam-packed trailer.

We drove the trailer, full of what I easily convinced myself were 'prized possessions', hundreds of miles, to our current home. The moving of boxes took it's toll, so we can add finding a good chiropractor to the list of expenses. My husband can barely turn his neck to look at me with his hairy eyeball. My bargains now cost less than a thousand dollars a year to store. Now, I need to organize everything in our already cluttered home. I know we are fortunate to have things, but in retrospect resources were used poorly. I hope to make better choices in the future. Maybe I will see you at my garage sale!

Tags

Bargain Shopping, Clutter, Consuming, Cost Of Living, Junk, Overspending, Storage

Meet the author

author avatar Chimelle Zizio
I live in Northern California. I enjoy painting, reading, hiking, exploring and trying new things.

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Comments

author avatar Clarence Schreiber
7th Jan 2012 (#)

A great share. Time for me to clutter some of my things here, thanks for sharing the article.

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author avatar Chimelle Zizio
8th Jan 2012 (#)

Hello, thanks for reading my article. :) I look forward to reading yours !

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author avatar ittech
28th Jan 2012 (#)

Nice read

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3rd Aug 2012 (#)


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author avatar Rose*
24th Nov 2013 (#)

I need to de-clutter too

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