Friday, May 6, 2011

The Positive Packrat-Or The Frugal Side Of Stuff

Recently I saw the above phrase from a book.  Later it occurred to me that the phrase Positive Packrat probably describes my home and life.

This past week, I freshened up my abode for spring and early summer. I put the Easter decorations away and lightened up.  I also made two gifts (one "crafty" and one not). I created a memory quilt, did some house repairs, and got ready to can homemade barbecue sauce. 

I share some of my week not to show how energetic I am (on the contrary, laid back is my name when it comes to getting things done, as a later missive will show).  The reason I mention some of my accomplishments is two-fold.  First, I managed to do all the things I needed to do without leaving my home.  I enjoy leaving my home on occasion, but when I choose to.  Leaving to run around and do busy work or last minute shopping is not my idea of a relaxing or fun time.

Secondly, other than some fresh produce, no money was spent  in these endeavors.  I managed to make a scrapbook page, do minor home improvements, create simple decor items, make a quilt, can barbecue sauce and do all these things with items I had on hand.

I guess you could say being a Positive Packrat is about the other side of "stuff".  Some folks would keep that word in huge capitals.  I say, keeping stuff on hand can save you time, and more importantly, cold hard cash.  For me, at least, some of the so called golden rules of decluttering kind of get lost along the way.  The idea that you should love everything you own/and or find it beautiful is nice.  But stuff (things, possessions if you will) enable me to live frugally, expending very little cash.

The same is true with the rules of use. Some years my canning jars get used once a year, others multiple times. The point (at least for me) is that the money I save by having a case of jars and canning supplies on a garage self is much more than the cost of the storage.  I've made food for my family, homemade gourmet items, and multiple gifts (ice cram sauce sets, for example) for pennies many years. 

Years ago, I decided that I could learn something from my kitchen pantry. If I was buying "staples" at discounted prices to make sure I always had what I needed on hand, why could I not do that with other areas at home.  To that end, when my kids were small, I would buy socks for a year at once.  I did this when there was a really good, unbeatable sale.  I shopped for items that I knew I would need eventually. I kept a list. I bought things not because I necessarily needed them at the time, but because I knew I would need them and use them at some point.  WhenI saw a basket for pennies at a yard sale, I scooped it up (even though I had no plan of what to do with it). Sewing fabric (assuming I liked it), the same way. Used flower pots, canning jars on sale, extra clothing since I have always spent time in two distinct climates-these are just a few of the thing that this packrat hangs on to.

Everyone has to decide what stays and goes depending on their own storage space and needs..  It's worth remembering though, that it will probably cost you more to replace something how that you disposed of six months ago. You'll also have to allow time to shop for ithe item as well as car expense.  For me, I'll try and hang on to those possessions that allow me to live my life more frugally.  A penny saved is at least two earned, after all.


  1. I have to try to think when I see things what is likely to be something I can use later - I tend to pick up stuff I like(books and fabric) then it sits around until eventually it's hidden somewhere (ok poor organization I guess is the best way to explain it!) so when I think of something it would be good for - poof! it's disappeared and does me no good.

    I'm finding stuff in my pantry and just shaking my head that I let it get hidden behind something and pass it's expiration.

    I need to get organized I think to take advantage of being frugal - a 25 cent bargain is 25 cents wasted if I can't find it when I need it!

    you're right on about the socks and stuff though - I hate making a trip to the store for undies and socks and boring stuff like that - I'd rather stock up once with a great sale than have to remember to pick it up later.

  2. suzy-I am blessed for the moment to have enough spac that I have a crafting room with everything I can see as well as an office with the same. Sometimes the investment in some good shelves helps alot. I would rather things be out and seen so I can use them as much as possible.

  3. You're right - it helps a lot to be able to see/find what you need! That 10 ct basket is 10 cts wasted if I can't find it when I want it or forget I have it LOL!

    I probably have the space if I'd just get myself organized! It ranks right up there with no excuse for not having my checkbook balanced (though I DID get a grip in that area a couple of years ago!)

  4. I am a packrat by nature as well. My kids closets are full clothes gather from yardsales and handme downs that they aren't into yet but it will save us a lot of money when the time comes that they grow into those clothes. I also have 2 storage bins alloted to keep fabric in that I like as I find it on sale. I don't think there is anything wrong with being a packrat as long as we are aware of our living space and we don't let our stuff take over the home.


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