Is your frugality promoting hoarding?

“I realized in that moment that I was a frugal hoarder.”

The other day I looked around and realized that I had 6 empty coffee cans sitting in my office closet. I love plastic coffee cans, they have that wonderful little handle and a tight lid, plus they take spray paint so well. I have my own set of canisters in my kitchen that are old coffee cans. I have a container for my homemade baby wipes that is an old coffee can, I keep office supplies in one, loose nails in a little one, etc. Are you seeing a trend?
The problem started to appear when I was looking at extras that I have stored and wracking my brain for something to use them for. I realized in that moment that I was a frugal hoarder.

I admit it, I have a problem, I love hoarding. I love keeping those little baby food jars with the lids that screw on so nicely and I love keeping those empty toilet paper rolls that could be projects with my kids. I especially love those bits and scraps of fabric that aren’t quite big enough to do anything with, but are bright and colorful. So what’s the big problem, they all have purposes, right?

DSC02524We keep markers and crayons in these!

The Problem

I have a small house, I not only raise my two daughters there, but I also do side hustles and work for a direct sales company. Add all those together and it takes up a lot of space (not to mention the chickens, the cat, and my sewing projects), so when I realized that some of that space was being taken up by something that could develop into a serious problem, I knew I had to nip it in the bud.

The Verdict

I realized that if I was keeping something because I could use it someday for something, I didn’t need it taking up space in my house. For instance, those baby food jars I was holding on to for possibly making candles someday, were not something that was a priority for space. However, those pint jars that I picked up at a garage sale I will be using this fall for canning the veggies from my garden.

I already donated a large amount of space for the chest freezer I invested in, this summer and fall I can freeze fresh fruits and veggies. My pantry is stocked right now with empty jars and packages of pectin, stacks of sugar are just waiting for jam and jellies to be made. I don’t mind the space being taken up by things that are saving us money later this year, that is the purpose of stockpiling and doing stuff yourself to save money. But when it is just for projects, you have to make a decision.

The Decision

The decision I came to was to get rid of the extra coffee cans, but then the problem is that I am throwing out something that is perfectly good for something.

The whole point of being frugal is always looking for ways to stretch what I use further. Using those baby food jars for storing dried herbs from the garden, using the space in my yard to grow my own food. Heck, that old sheet can be remade into a cute skirt or pillow-case dresses for my kids (even if it becomes rags, that’s better than nothing). I don’t just throw out something when I’m done with it, I find a way to re-purpose it to save myself money somewhere else.

DSC02521My handy-dandy wipes container

The Fix

Rather than just throwing the coffee cans in the recycling or garbage, I posted on a local Facebook classifieds that I had some extra coffee cans that were free and that people could pick them up. I had a reply in minutes from someone who had a project for them. It works even better if you can find someone who has something you need and you can swap for each others unneeded frugal hoarding.

Craigslist also often offers an outlet to get rid of unneeded materials. Many times I have found things I have needed for projects (like my compost bins) on Craigslist. Some people want to get rid of their stuff as badly as you want to get rid of yours. I have met people who have driven over 6 hours to come and tear down someone’s old barn because they could use the wood, and the farmer just wanted rid of the old structure.

The Inspiration

I have a neighbor who has a back yard full of junk. There is no other word for it, old broken bicycles, bricks and paving stones, even lamps that don’t work anymore. None of this does anything, just sits there while he collects more and more of it. The inner DIY’er in me cringes every time I walk by and see that he has added something to the mix that could be an amazing project for someone with the time and drive to do it. But instead, it will just sit there until it is rusted and good for nothing but scrap metal.

Luckily, I have this neighbor to help keep me on the straight and narrow, any time I feel like I need to start collecting something (scrap wood, chicken wire, paving stones), I just make sure that my evening walk passes by his place and the urge passes quickly. I don’t think he ever started out expecting to be a hoarder, but little by little it just took over when he started taking in things that he could use someday for something.

Do you think it’s okay to devote space to projects materials (even if they are someday projects), or do you keep your house cleared of all clutter?