Is Hoarding The New Frugal?

      41 Comments on Is Hoarding The New Frugal?

This post was featured in the following carnivals:

Carnival of Personal Finance at Young Adult Finance
Yakezie Carnival at My Personal Finance Journey
Carnival of Financial Camaraderie at My University Money
Totally Money at Invest It Wisely
Festival of Frugality at Help Me to Save
Canadian Finance Carnival at Canadian Finance Blog
Carnival of Financial Planning at Skilled Investor Blog

One of my friends has three closets full of clothes and shoes (no, I am not talking about myself.) In fact, my friend is a very frugal person: she counts every penny, she evaluates every purchase, and she does her research before she decides to buy anything whether it is a car or a pair of sandals. She is a smart consumer who knows the value of money. Or so it seems.

I always wondered why she has so many clothes stuffed in her closets. I have a tiny closet (the benefit of a one-bedroom condo), and I have a simple rule about my closet. I don’t keep anything that I did not wear at least twice during the season. The item I did not wear, goes into a donation bag.

I was puzzled by the abundance of old clothes packed away in my friend’s closet. I could not help but ask her why in the world she stores so many clothes and shoes. According to her, she has a very difficult time of letting things go. It does not matter that she bought something five or six years ago and did not wear it for years. She spent money on this piece of clothing, it still looks good and she might be able to wear it some day… when it is back in fashion.

My friend issaving her clothes like some people save their ideas. She is saving clothes for a rainy day like many savers save their pennies. That’s when I had a revelation: I needed to buy some storage boxes and, instead of donating my clothes, I needed to store them for a better day.

Then, I took a step back and realized that my friend still is spending money to buy more new clothes and stockpile them away for a few years. Is she really a frugal person or is she a hoarder, not an extreme compulsive TV show case, but nevertheless?

 What makes you frugal?

  • You try to maximize the value of things
  • You try to stretch your money
  • You make informed decisions
  • You don’t spend money when you don’t have to
  • You use items that you acquire as a resource

What makes you a hoarder?

  • You accumulate stuff with an excuse that you might need and use it one day
  • You almost never use stuff you have acquired
  • Your actions are based on emotions and not necessarily logic
  • You get anxiety when someone suggests to de-clutter and get rid of things

My friend would probably never call herself a hoarder. Instead she would call herself a collector of fashion. I don’t call myself a shopping addict either. I call myself a shopping enthusiast. But really, is there a difference?

How To Prevent Hoarding (from my point of view):

  • No one wants to throw away a perfectly good item. It seems wasteful. If you don’t want to feel wasteful, donate that item! I do it all the time.
  • Ask yourself if you are going to use it and not some day in the future but right now? This week? This month? If the answer is no, then you should not have gotten this item in the first place.
  • If you have a piece of clothing, shoes or a bag, or anything really that is not essential, or something that you absolutely love then why do you want to keep it? Share it with others or try selling it on EBay, or at a garage sale.

If you need more space in your home, another option would be putting items you don’t use often in a storage facility. If you’re in the New York City area, Storage Courier will arrange for storage pickup in Manhattan.


41 thoughts on “Is Hoarding The New Frugal?

  1. rfm

    I’m totally with you. I started seeing that connection when watching Extreme Couponing a few weeks ago. The behavior seems all wrong to me. Why acquire things you don’t need (or aren’t good for you), just for the sake of saying you got them for a good price? The high is the aquisition itself – not the thing aquired.
    I go through rooms in the house every few months looking for ways to purge things. Donate has always been my process, but I’m starting to sell as well now. I’d rather have a clean and tidy living space than an accumulation of stuff!

  2. Jeremy @ Personal Finance Whiz

    I have a natural tendency to lean towards being a hoarder. The mental trick that has worked for me is I ask myself if I would be willing to pay to store that item for the next year. If it’s not important enough that I would pay to store it, then I get rid of it.

  3. PKamp3

    Or, alternatively, is frugal the new hoarding? If I buy 1,000 bars of soap on sale to save $100 it displaces some other deal I can find on something a bit larger – and I might save even more money. Opportunity costs can involves space as well as time.

    Be frugal, but be practical about it, haha.

    1. aloysa

      Buying soap and stocking it up for future use is not hoarding. It is saving on a good deal. Hoarding is an acummulation of stuff for the sole purpose of having it. Not using it. Ever.

  4. Newlyweds on a Budget

    We’ve started this tradition of an annual garage sale, and it’s surprising how we can always manage to let go of “things.” Clothes especially, if I haven’t worn it in two years, chances are, I’m not gonna wear it. I say let it go!

  5. Charles

    Sometimes I forget the difference between the two as well. My garage is full of stuff I don’t use and I’m just afraid to throw them out Just In Case I found use for them in the future. Sounds like i’m more of a hoarder in this case. I guess it’s time to clean out my garage and donate the stuff I don’t really use anymore.

    1. aloysa

      You see, Just In Case excuse is very convinient to justify accumulation of stuff. Get rid of it. If you haven’t used it by now, you won’t use it. Ever. 🙂

  6. 101 Centavos

    Hmm, I’ve given away things only to need them later. I played golf again this year after an 8 or 9 year hiatus. It was nothing to have kept the shoes and clubs tucked away in the attic. Didn’t hurt anything.
    I pick up used tools at yard sales for not much money. Maybe our garage was looking a little cluttered. But when you need a tool, you really need it.

    1. aloysa

      Keeping a pair of shoes or a set of clubs, is not hoarding at all. It is normal. My husband keeps his golf shoes and clubs even though it’s been years he played last time. But if he would be stocking piles of golf shoes, I would have a problem with that!

  7. Shaun @ Smart Family Finance

    I think that for most practical people it is hard to get ride of things that can still be used. If we spent money on something, we should have it until destruction and not end its time early. The thing is, stuff, even your own stuff can have a cost. I wonder how many people dream of moving into large houses just to have more room for stuff?

  8. youngandthrifty

    Awe shucks, your friend does kind of sound like a hoarder. I do a regular “purge” of clothes that I don’t wear, but I do sometimes have trouble getting rid of clothes that I might wear some day (especially with dresses).

    I’m going to a clothes swap in December so hopefully that will help me get rid of some more things.

    1. aloysa

      Clothes swap? I heard about ski clothes swaps. Is it something like it? We all have trouble getting rif of things. But if I don’t absolutely love something and want to keep it even if I wear it only once a year, it goes.

  9. YFS

    Hoarders are the ultimate justifiers of stuff. I remember watching the T.V show hoarders a person hoarded everything; even trash. She had one of the best justifications ever. “What if I need this trash to put other trash into” what???

    Anyway. This post reminded me to empty my storage closet. I have items within my storage closet from the 1st time I moved into my home. I definitely have not and will not use the items. time to donate or give away.

    1. aloysa

      Trash hoarding? WHAT???? That is something… really stupid. I don’t even know if I need to laugh or what? 🙂

  10. So You Think You Can Save

    Part of what I think you need to do is when you get something that is replacing an older item, do something with that older item. I know people who will buy something new (say a pair of scissors) to replace an old pair, but then continue to use the old pair. For a long time.

  11. retirebyforty

    She’s a hoarder. 🙂 I think we all have hoarding tendency. Who wants to give perfectly good things away? I have ratty shirts that are 15 years old. I still wear them though so I can keep them. 🙂

    1. aloysa

      Why would you be wearing ratty shirts that are 15 years old? Beaker used have those. They looked… 15 years old. 🙂 I threw them away. Get rid of them!

  12. Matt

    I don’t see why a person couldn’t be both. This is an interesting topic. It’s kind of curious to think about the correlation between frugality and hoarding. A person who is both, I might call a “frugoarder!”

    1. aloysa

      LOL Frugoarder? For me hoarding and frugality are two totally differnt things. However, I can see how an extremly frugal person can become a hoarder.

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    1. aloysa

      I think some people consider themselves frugal by accumulating stuff that they might use in the future. They don’t see themselves as being wasteful.

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  24. Rachel

    My ex was one for bringing free stuff home. Great it was free but it isn’t so free if it takes up room I could use for something I need. I once worked in a laundromat and saw people who came in and used 10 washers to do laundry for themselves. I asked one about it once and she said she would rather buy more clothes at the thrift store than wash them which meant she would have this huge pile of clothes to wash. Sometimes the clothes were cheaper than it cost to wash them. However, she had to do something with them after wearing them and had to get to the store to buy them. I think being frugal has grey areas.

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