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Years ago, I heard someone speak about home organization. She casually mentioned how important it is to ask yourself how much money it is costing you to store something.
I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.
My house was my house and I didn’t pay “anything” to keep my stuff in it.
I get it now, but I also understand that it’s a somewhat ambiguous concept and I understand why it’s harder for someone like me to grasp it.
Here’s the thing. I’m frugal. Ridiculously frugal. This frugality leads to me focusing more on how much I’m saving by keeping something I’ll maybe use than on how much I’m definitely spending on space that then can’t be used for other things.
Well, those Christmas cookie tins.
They are in perfect condition. They are totally reusable. They represent a dream of being the kind of person who makes Christmas cookies (or candy or whatever) and passes them out in tins.
Tins I didn’t even have to buy.
The only issue is that I’d have to store them for a full year. One little ol’ year.
As I moved them from one shelf to another recently, I realized I needed to make a decision. It was time to decide if they were going to stay or go.
Letting them stay would mean:
- Washing them perfectly (because they had food in them).
- Drying them perfectly (because I don’t want them to rust while they sit waiting for next Christmas).
- Finding a cabinet where they could stay for the next eleven months.
- Decluttering that cabinet to make room for them.
- Placing them gently in the cabinet so they don’t get scratched, in a position where they won’t fall out and get dented.
- Remembering to make Christmas cookies/candy/whatever in time to actually make it.
- Remembering to buy the ingredients to make Christmas cookies/candy/whatever.
- Remembering that I have these three tins to use in addition to the ones I’d need to buy.
- Remembering where I decided to store the tins.
- Re-washing them because they’ve been in storage for a year.
- Giving up that cabinet space that I might need for things we definitely use.
Letting them go would mean:
- Wiping them out well.
- Sticking them in an existing Donate Box.
There’s cost in storage. Actual monetary cost that comes in the form of a monthly mortgage payment for a space where our family can live and work and relax.
I put them in the Donate Box. I might have to spring for some containers next December, but I’m okay with that.
For one thing, I might not need to. Most years I don’t.
But even if I do, I’d have to buy a few more anyway.
I looked up how much it would cost if I did buy some. This set of four is $15. That seems like a lot more than I’d actually have to spend, but I’ll still use that number.
Not stressing over all the things on the “letting them stay” list is worth $15 to me.
Especially since I saw this much cheaper (and cuter) option that is $5ish for 12.
And those are single use and wouldn’t cause this dilemma in the receiver’s home*
And Another Example
Those waders were a relic from my bargain-hunting, clutter-collecting garage sale-ing days. I looked up waders on Amazon, and while there’s a range of prices, it looks like we could have purchased some for less than $100.
I bought the waders for $3. That means I “saved” 97ish dollars on them. Or would have saved 97ish dollars if we’d used them. Or if we’d have ever have purchased them for $100.
Honestly, I paid $3 for the thrill of a bargain and the hassle of storing a not-easily-storable item for more than a decade.
Even if those waders ended up being exactly what we needed after all this time, even if they saved the day and brought joy to my husband on that cold January day in 2018, was it worth $97 dollars to me to store them for all those years?
Would I be willing to pay $97 to not have to shift them around every time I needed something from that space in the garage, year after year after year?
Would I be willing to pay $97 to have that much open space in the garage for ten years?
Would I be willing to pay $97 to not have to pack them in a box, load them into a truck, and drive them across the state and then across town in two different moves?
Like I said in the beginning, it’s an ambiguous concept. That means I get to decide what it’s worth to me. And I’m deciding it’s worth 97 hypothetical dollars to avoid the hassle of those waders that ended up being completely worthless.
How do you talk to yourself about these types of things??
* If you read this post and you gave me cookies for Christmas, don’t NOT make me cookies next year because you don’t want to weigh me down with tins. I love cookies. Sugar cookies with icing are my very favorite. I’m totally fine with sticking the tins in a Donate Box.