Author Topic: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.  (Read 5212 times)

HappyHoya

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Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« on: February 06, 2014, 07:46:49 AM »
How do you make the decision about stuff when you can't sell it for anything, and when you might find a money-saving purpose for it in the future? My husband and I live in an area where real estate is very expensive. Housing is our biggest monthly expense (not including debt repayment and savings), even for a modest apartment. Because of this, my efforts to keep our expenses small have centered around minimalism and small space living. My husband doesn't like to get rid of things that we may want to use again and would either have to repurchase or find another substitute for.We do have space for what we currently own, but everything is packed in pretty exactly. I would like to feel like we have more than enough space, so that we can downsize, if the opportunity presents itself (unlikely, given what's available/zoning laws in our area), and because I know it would help lessen the occasional urges to get a bigger space.

The biggest example that I am struggling with is clothing. I am working on thinning out my clothes and I don't know what to do with items that do fit, and I do wear, but I could easily do without. In support of keeping them: I sew, and I have turned old garments into other items, or gone back to an item years after I bought it and had it become a favorite again. I have repurposed fabric from old clothing into home items, gifts and gift bags, etc. This saves a lot of money over going out and buying something. I also feel like it's not financially responsible to get rid of something perfectly useful that I haven't used as fully as I can (and eventually will, if I keep it). On the other hand, I would love to have more space, and I feel like anything we do to facilitate always living in a small space is going to save us money in the long term. It's tough to know what's the frugal decision in this situation. I've sold a lot already, and the things that are left have not sold. Any thoughts?

zachd

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2014, 09:10:09 AM »

I was thinking this exact same thought this morning... and about clothes as well.  I'd like to have less clothes to have to wash and deal with but at the same time I probably have enough clothes to last a lifetime so perhaps no need to get rid of them.

Honestly if you are not going to wear these clothes and they have no resale value, I would donate them.  Having large amounts (I asssume) of clothes around because you can't let go of them sounds more like hoarding than frugality.  If you got the urge to sew bags made from clothing scraps you could find some rather easily at a garage sale or thrift store and it's not going to break the bank.

Having stuff around may seem like it is saving you money, but there is a cost associated with it which is the burden of having to think these thoughts about the stuff.

In times when I have been unsure if I need something or I'm hesitant to get rid of it because I think I should sell it but don't have time.. I just put it all in a box and put it in a corner somewhere.  Then I find it months later and usually it's more clear now - it's just junk and I take most or all of it to the thrift store.

Or maybe just determine to pick out 5 pieces of something and donate it.  See if you miss it.  I bet you won't! 

Good luck, you are not the only one torn between trying to live simply and also being frugal. 

Edit: I re-read your post, they are clothes you like and can wear!   That is a little different!  But you can still get rid of things and not miss them.  I sold all my good headphones and my power amp and pre-amp. I thought I might miss them but I don't. I still listen to music. I don't regret selling them.

« Last Edit: February 06, 2014, 09:13:07 AM by zachd »

jfer_rose

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2014, 09:29:03 AM »
One thing that has helped me with this sort of decision was Project 333. You drastically reduce your wardrobe and then you live with it for 3 months. The twist is that for those 3 months, you are not asked to get rid of anything. Instead you box the items up and put them someplace out of the way. Living without most of my clothing for 3 months felt so good that it made it so much easier to get rid of the "I might wear this again someday" or "I might refashion this into something else" type of garments.

I'm not quite a minimalist yet (at least, not by my own definition-- my friends and families might classify me as one) but I aspire to be because life just feels better without so much stuff.

CommonCents

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2014, 09:32:47 AM »
I have been working on slowly decluttering.  For me, the key has been recognzing that some items do not bring me happiness.  I keep them around for negative, not positive emotions.  For example, common reasons to keep involve "guilt":
- It was a gift (this is DH's weak spot)
- I paid a lot for it
- It's still in good condition (but I don't like X about it)

I'm working on relinquishing these items first.  I tell myself someone else will be able to use it if I donate it, and I'll get an immediate tax donation now if I do that.  I also have been trying to be honest with myself over whether I even like myself in the item and feel good wearing - and if not, I'm letting those go.  Oddly enough, reading a fashion blog someone else posted here (extrapetite.com) - where she posts way too much clothes, though I think a chunk is donated - helped push me over to recognizing and getting rid of things that don't make me feel good about myself, and recognizing what I can repurpose and wear in a way so I will like it more.  I'm trying our her suggestion to 1) put together a basic outfit, 2) add a layer (scarf, blazer, etc) and 3) accessorize.  I've never done more than number one.  This allowed me to give myself permission to get rid of "good" clothing that is ~10 years old, that I haven't worn in about 5 years.  Sure I might regret an item (I wish I hadn't donated a cardigan/sweater, when I got rid of a matching shirt a few years back that had a stain), but that's rare compared to the feeling of relief/freedom in having more space.  I truly am reveling in having fewer things - and I have so far to go to *really* paring down in terms of stored food, clothes, textbooks, and household goods.  I think this is how MMM feels about spending - I'm just not quite there yet.  ;)

If you're already purged beyond this point, I can't help you much.  I would suggest evaluating 1) the likelihood it will be needed again, 2) how bulky it is to store, and 3) how expensive it would be to replace.  Perhaps even assign numeric numbers, and create a calculus, then get rid of those that score poorly. 

Regarding fabric scraps - if you are like my mom, you have way more scraps than needed for oodles of project.  Just keep the ones you love, and give away the others where you keep for guilt.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2014, 09:36:52 AM by CommonCents »

MayDay

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2014, 09:36:01 AM »
DH and I struggle with this.  Translation:  we fight about it, lol.  DH wants to keep all the things, since we might want them someday.  I am the opposite.  Clutter stresses me out like mad. 

I have no answers, as it is a constant struggle.  The problem I have been pondering the most lately is clothes.  I have a full wardrobe in a "lose 20 lbs" size.  I don't know if I will ever fit it again.  I hate to get rid of it, as it is nice stuff, that I couldn't replace via thrift store.  So far I have kept it, as a "full wardrobe" is still only about 2 rubbermaid tubs, and we have the space. 

hybrid

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2014, 10:04:19 AM »
DH and I struggle with this.  Translation:  we fight about it, lol.  DH wants to keep all the things, since we might want them someday.  I am the opposite.  Clutter stresses me out like mad. 

I have no answers, as it is a constant struggle.  The problem I have been pondering the most lately is clothes.  I have a full wardrobe in a "lose 20 lbs" size.  I don't know if I will ever fit it again.  I hate to get rid of it, as it is nice stuff, that I couldn't replace via thrift store.  So far I have kept it, as a "full wardrobe" is still only about 2 rubbermaid tubs, and we have the space.

This is the essence of how people acquire and keep clutter.  No one wants to make a financial mistake by parting with something that could have value later.  It stings both the ego and the wallet.

Here's the thing.  People make mistakes every day. So. What. MayDay, if you are confident you won't need it again, then let it go. And hey, not having clothes to accomodate 20 more pounds of you is excellent incentive not to let yourself go there in the first place, right?

My wife and I struggle some with this as well. Have I thrown something away I needed later? Well of course I have!!! The thing is, I've rid myself of so much other stuff that was never needed. When you look at the balance sheet that way it makes so much more sense to over rather than under purge. Stuff can be replaced. There is going to be new stuff anyway.

Live your life looking forward, not back.

MissPeach

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2014, 02:10:08 PM »
This is a good article on the topic. They argue that most things could be replaced if needed for a small amount of effort and money.

http://www.theminimalists.com/in-case/

If I'm unsure I think of how many times I've used it in the last x months. I also will put items in a box in the closet and see if I go back for them. If not, they go on my next donation trip.


happy

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2014, 04:03:25 PM »
I'm a wannabe minimalist groupie...ie still have way too much stuff. That being said, I have been successively clearing stuff out, and the "just in case" issue certainly comes up.  But I can't recall having thrown away anything and then needed it/had to re-purchase it. Maybe its happened, but it doesn't come to mind, and therefore if it did happen it was either no big deal or neither psychologically  or financially scarring. On the other hand, I've saved heaps of money on finding things that I'd forgotten I had, or couldn't find and bought another of.

I've had the same experience with clothes i.e. they're still good, and become a favourite at a later date etc. I don't have any wisdom... doing a project 33 sounds like a good idea. Ultimately you have to decide which you want most: space or more wardrobe versatility.

lithy

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2014, 04:23:27 PM »
My father had a 30 year old tub of lithium grease in the garage for every job that called for it which was not many and the tub probably held a 300 year supply at the rate he is using it.

It usually took half a day of searching among all of the other 10-30 year old bulk hardware items to find it because while massive for a tub of lithium grease it was really no bigger than a normal size tub of putty or spackle, so it mingled quite well. 

For rarely used things like this.  I try not to look at the bulk cost savings of the item, but rather the time and storage losses. Sure over my lifetime, I might purchase a few dollars more of lithium grease than my dad, but I'll have the equivalent of 5 additional Saturdays that he lost looking for his.

zachd

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2014, 05:08:53 PM »

These are some really great thoughts!  I thought maybe I was being too harsh to say 'stop hoarding', it could have been said more eloquently perhaps!

That's yfunny I have had a can of some sort spray lube that you can use on bike chains and pretty sure I've had it for close to 20 years.  I've probably used it once.  I'm sure my dad gave it to me and said use this on your bike chain.  I can't remember if I still have it. If I needed it, I probably couldn't find it.  Of course I'm also afraid to throw it away because it doesn't seem like something that should go in a landfill.

For me I'm ready to part with a lot of clothes.. books.. stuff.  But I'm trying to be a little bit smart about it and start with higher end stuff that I can get some money out of.  I love my iphone, but just never really adopted the ipad, so going to sell it and things like that first.   I sold a ten year old notebook for $25 today.  It took a week to sell but I got it.  Pre MMM I would have put it on my porch and put a 'free' ad out for it just to see it gone.  But it's all adding up and I'm little thrilled every time I send something out the door with someone else.

horsepoor

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2014, 06:31:38 PM »
Maybe you could find a middle ground by identifying one container of a size you find acceptable, (it could be a dual-purpose item, like a chest that doubles as a coffee table, or maybe flat boxes that fit under the bed) and choose your best items that you don't currently need.  Pack them in there neatly, and get rid of the rest.  Then whenever you need something, you can check your storage box before purchasing.  If you want to get a new shirt, and there are shirts in the storage box, you can either use one of those, or get a new shirt and choose one from the storage box to get rid of.  I think you might find that eventually you won't find most of the stuff in the box very appealing, and might whittle it down to a smaller box, but YMMV. 

sheepstache

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2014, 06:44:39 PM »
I think you've got the minimalist gene or you don't.  If you do, the extra stuff is stressing you out.  If not, why worry about it? 

Also, even if you have too much stuff, your house doesn't have to look like that of someone who writes a minimalist website.  Everyone has a different ideal level of stuff.

For the OP, have you actually quantified how much stuff you have to get rid of to move to a smaller place?  That might be more psychologically helpful to you than a vague idea that you have to "thin out."

Oddly, it seems like people with houses are the ones more concerned.  Maybe moving apartments regularly keeps you from having too much.  But on the other hand, sometimes I hold on to things because we're not in our forever home yet.  Sure, I don't need this lamp now, but when I do need a lamp, I want the hideous one that I got from my aunt's yard sale.

CommonCents

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2014, 06:49:49 PM »
I sold a ten year old notebook for $25 today. 

What?  Seriously?  How? 

mollyjade

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2014, 07:41:51 PM »
I am working on thinning out my clothes and I don't know what to do with items that do fit, and I do wear, but I could easily do without.
What about a middle path? Wear the clothes until they wear out and then don't replace them.

It just seems like there's a difference between items that might be useful in the future and items that you're currently using and that wear out.

libertarian4321

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2014, 03:35:34 AM »
My father had a 30 year old tub of lithium grease in the garage for every job that called for it which was not many and the tub probably held a 300 year supply at the rate he is using it.

It usually took half a day of searching among all of the other 10-30 year old bulk hardware items to find it because while massive for a tub of lithium grease it was really no bigger than a normal size tub of putty or spackle, so it mingled quite well. 

For rarely used things like this.  I try not to look at the bulk cost savings of the item, but rather the time and storage losses. Sure over my lifetime, I might purchase a few dollars more of lithium grease than my dad, but I'll have the equivalent of 5 additional Saturdays that he lost looking for his.

His problem wasn't too much lithium grease, his problem was a lack of organization.

My wife is always buying more of what we already have, because she is disorganized, she never puts things back where she found them.  For example, she buys a new bottle of silver cleaner when we already have 2 (she bought the second one when she forgot where she put the first). 

On the other hand, I don't have that problem.  I can tell you precisely where my lithium grease is (as well as just about everything else), because I'm organized and always put things back in their place when done with them.  Hence, that $4 tube of lithium grease that I bought ~10 years ago will continue to do it's job, with no time wasted, for many years into the future.

Kaminoge

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2014, 05:23:48 AM »
One suggestion I saw about clothes that I thought was quite good is this.
1. Turn all your hangers the opposite way to what you normally have them.
2. After you wear clothes replace them with the hanger the normal way.
3. After a year (all complete seasons) get rid of anything that's still hanging the wrong way.

Easy to say but hard to do! I regularly go through my stuff (firstly because I move countries every few years and secondly because I KNOW I feel better if I have less stuff) and make myself try it all on but I seem to have so many things I keep "just incase". Fancy dress parties, theme days at work (I'm a teacher so we do have them) etc. Everything I have fits me and I like it. BUT the honest truth is that I don't like it as much as I like other stuff I have so I end up never wearing it. There's a book where the woman talked about having 4 pairs of black pants that all fit her... but she realised that only one pair was her favourite and that she'd always choose that pair over any others. So she got rid of the others. That's what I need to do.

Rural

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2014, 05:26:33 AM »
My father had a 30 year old tub of lithium grease in the garage for every job that called for it which was not many and the tub probably held a 300 year supply at the rate he is using it.

It usually took half a day of searching among all of the other 10-30 year old bulk hardware items to find it because while massive for a tub of lithium grease it was really no bigger than a normal size tub of putty or spackle, so it mingled quite well. 

For rarely used things like this.  I try not to look at the bulk cost savings of the item, but rather the time and storage losses. Sure over my lifetime, I might purchase a few dollars more of lithium grease than my dad, but I'll have the equivalent of 5 additional Saturdays that he lost looking for his.

His problem wasn't too much lithium grease, his problem was a lack of organization.


+1

galliver

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2014, 08:52:16 AM »
I would go the "wearing out but not replacing" route. I would also pare down to as small a wardrobe as you are comfortable with/fits your needs, as this will help you actually wear things out. There's a thread called "Minimalist wardrobe" elsewhere where people shared what their wardrobe is like, you could use it for inspiration. Pick out the number of items you decide on and put the rest away, for now. When you wear something out and turn it into sewing fabric/rags, replace from stored items.

Here's the thing.  People make mistakes every day. So. What. MayDay, if you are confident you won't need it again, then let it go. And hey, not having clothes to accomodate 20 more pounds of you is excellent incentive not to let yourself go there in the first place, right?

"lose 20 lbs size" as in 20 lbs smaller than now, as in "I want to get in shape and then I'll fit into my older clothes."

HappyHoya

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2014, 11:08:25 AM »
Thanks for the great responses, everyone. Just to clarify, we have a below-average amount of stuff, so it's nowhere near a hoarding situation, even though I understand it's the same feeling. After reading the links posted here, I do feel better about parting with things, even if there's a chance I have to spend money later if it needs to be replaced. I feel like the chance I will need to replace anything is very low, since when I have less stuff, I am more content and less inclined to mess it up by buying something. For me, both mustachianism and minimalism are about freedom, and I need to do what makes me feel less burdened and more free to live my life as I want to.

sheepstache

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Re: Minimalism verses repurposing, wearing things out, etc.
« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2014, 11:45:42 AM »
I would go the "wearing out but not replacing" route. I would also pare down to as small a wardrobe as you are comfortable with/fits your needs, as this will help you actually wear things out.

Huh.
That is a good point that I had never thought of.