Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weigh the costs and benefits of hoarding

By: Julia Scott

To hoard or not to hoard: What saves money?

A reader named Ellen e-mailed me about how she saves money by keeping items for later use.

"I call it re-boxing versus re-gifting," she said. "Following every holiday season, I stow away any perfectly good boxes instead of sending them off to recycling. (I usually hide them from my hubby because he’ll want to throw them out — stat.) My box stash comes in handy for next year’s gift load, not to mention other gift-giving occasions that arise. I also save any festive bags that I may receive, knowing next year that I will reuse them, as well. Why spend money to buy boxes and bags when you can save the green by being green?"

Ellen’s e-mail got me thinking. Are there things around the house that I throw out or recycle that could save me money if I kept them? Could my empty wine bottles be turned into vases? Old comics used for wrapping presents? Food containers saved for leftovers?

Yes, yes and yes. But just because something can be reused doesn’t mean you’re saving money by keeping it. What it really comes down to is how much it costs to hold onto something. I broke down the cost of saving something into five areas:

Mental cost — Do you have room in your brain to remember everything you’ve tucked away? I know I feel better about myself when I’m able to weed out unneeded possessions...." More