Thinning the hoard, by guest blogger Lorie Sheffer

Midlife hoarding
(Photo: Lorie Sheffer)

Maybe there’s an upside to this recession we’ve been in. I don’t mean there’s an upside for the people who lost their homes and healthcare. I’m mean for those of us who basically had to cut back and tighten our budgets. I just read an article that said the percentage of people who are paying down debt is on the rise. The negative to that is that they are spending less, thus slowing down the general economic recovery. Maybe slow recovery has its advantages.

Cutting back can be a good thing. Watch an episode of Hoarders. Most of us don’t accumulate to that extent, but we probably all have much more stuff than we really need. How many times do you think about getting to that basement/garage/attic/spare bedroom so you can weed out the stuff you don’t need? Imagine if you hadn’t bought it in the first place. Take a drive by a landfill; it’s staggering.

My big lesson is hanging in my closet. At the time I didn’t think twice about the price, which was the equivalent of the cost of over a month’s worth of groceries. The next year my husband was laid off. We had another wedding to attend, but the season was different from the one in which I had worn the expensive dress. I found a dress on sale that fit perfectly and was comfortable. I’ve worn it since, and will most likely wear it again. I’ve had someone ask to borrow it. Miraculously it is machine washable, which will save even more on dry cleaning costs.  It was 1/8 the cost of the dress that resides in the zippered garment bag at the back of my closet. When I look at that garment bag and the inexpensive dress hanging next to it, I don’t feel deprived, I feel smarter.

Nowadays we use words like “repurpose”, “up-cycle”, “recycle” and “going green”.  Really, they are the same concepts that our grandparents used. They all involve using what you have and not being wasteful. Lessons learned from The Great Depression. Perhaps these economic downtimes happen when we become too wasteful and consume too much; they may be our reality check.

By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.