“Waste not, want not.” This wise aphorism helped our grandparents conserve long before the “recycle movement” became popular. Life has certainly changed from the days of our grandparents whose biggest travel may have been their honeymoon. They didn’t have to worry about saving souvenirs from 36 vacations or videos of the kids’ swim meet or even tin cans.
But does “Waste Not” really mean?
It means quite the opposite. Saving stuff is actually wasting it. Do you really want to save the clothes you wore two decades or two sizes ago? It means that you are really wasting space and depriving someone who really needs them.
Over the past year, my father, who is 85, has been culling his belongings ~ what is known as “downsizing.” One of the benefits for him is that he has a lot more room; space is no longer wasted storing things he doesn’t want or need. One of the benefits for us, his children and grandchildren, is that he has sent back the letters, postcards and photos we sent him over the years. My daughter called him one night last week, thrilled at having received a package of photos from the time he visited when she was 10. What a waste it would have been if he had left these in a box for us to sort after he was gone.
My father came up with a great solution to reducing his mementos. Keep in mind that there are no formulas, and different approaches work for different situations. Here are questions to ask when deciding what to keep, what to share and what to throw away.
- When was the last time you used it or wore it? If more than 10-12 months ago, and the item is in good shape or needs only minor repairs, give it away.
- Why are you keeping it? If it has strong sentimental value and can’t be replaced, keep it (although be selective). But if you answer “I might need it,” or “I paid a lot of money for it” or “I just need to fix it” or “I can use it for parts,” challenge yourself if that’s really true. Then refer to question #1.
- Do you like it? Do you like it so much you are willing to pay $1.24 a square foot per month to keep it? That’s about the cost of basic storage.
So don’t waste space or money by saving things “just in case.” Share them with someone who will use them now. That way, no one will be in want.
If you have too much clutter or are not sure what to do with your stuff contact me, Jane Lott, Silver Rain Estate Transitions at (415) 601-2613. www.silverrainets.com.