I went to high school with a girl named Helen, who was extremely petite and wore a very tiny shoe size, 5 I believe. In college, Helen and I lived in the same dorm. Her room was remarkable because it contained the largest shoe collection in the dorm, probably in the entire school. Why did Helen own so many shoes? Because she wore a tiny shoe, many stores would only get one in her size when they ordered a style. Helen was constantly afraid that she wouldn’t be able to find shoes that fit. As a result, she bought every shoe she found in her size. Clearly, the idea that there was a shortage of size 5 shoes was all in Helen’s mind, since she had several dozen pairs stored in their boxes in her very space restricted dorm room.
Years later, I was girlfriends with a very tall, long-limbed woman named Lanette. Her husband was even taller and even longer limbed. Lanette was an every weekend, very systematic garage saler.Â Now because they had such long arms and legs, Lanette and her husband understandably disliked wearing too short shirts and pants. As a result, Lanette bought every shirt and every pair of pants that she found every Saturday morning that were long enough. The result? A wardrobe stuffed full of clothing. There was no real shortage of long-enough clothing, except in Lanette’s mind.
Are you guilty of creating a shortage that exists only in your mind? Do you have an excess of toiletries, food in your pantry, clothing, collectibles, or great deal you bought on sale because, you believe, there may not be enough, so you better grab some now, over and over again? I challenge you to declutter at least one of these “rare” items today and to start talking to yourself about how there is, in fact, no shortage of material goods. The store can store your extra food and toiletries; a person can only wear so many items of clothing; with the Internet, there is no material good that cannot be found. Don’t panic, don’t buy. The shortage is only in your mind.
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow
Deb J says
Cindy, this is a great post. I too have small feet (size 5) and stuggle to find shoes. But I have learned not to stockpile. I’m learning to live with less. I have also learned that I don’t need something in every style and color.
Absolutely. A few will do and when they need to be replaced, you can get an updated style, rather than having more, more, more of the same.
Very timely Cindy. Only yesterday I was vaguely wondering if it was a bad idea to not stockpile food at all. I spent the weekend given our kitchen a good clear out and massive reorganise of where I keep stuff pre arrival of a new lodger. I really don’t have room to stock loads of food “in case of some imagined national disaster” and find I prefer the simple monthly main shop where I keep enough to last a month, topping up with fresh veg bread etc from local sellers.
Am I being foolish not to plan for pestilence, drought and civil unrest? I’ve reached the age of 50, and here in the uk I have been very fortunate enough never to not have enough to eat. I’ve tried a bit of stockpiling in the past and ultimately it just feels like a burden. So now I don’t.
Decluttering Diva says
Especially with the world the way it is today, I think it’s always a good idea to keep some kind of a pantry. Whether you store large amounts, or smaller amounts, with just-in-time delivery (which I think is practiced in many countries now), you just never know what might go wrong, and what might stop deliveries to the stores.
It’s always wise to have some water, some food, some first aid supplies on hand.
Just because you’ve never experienced a shortage yet, doesn’t mean you never will.
I say, yes, declutter your knick knacks and other useless things all day long, but don’t ever take your pantry down to bare walls. You might regret it.
Good thought, thanks DD. And interesting topic
I would say I do have a pantry, and I never end up with no food at the end of the month, as basics like pasta / lentils / porridge etc last over several months and all run out at different times. I also didn’t think to mention our freezer is always full of home made meals, spare bread, milk and frozen veg etc, so I always have food in hand.I think I was more meaning storing months of emergency food.
I’ve never bought any water for home use though as we can drink it out of the tap here in the UK: I might give thought to what we would do if there was a major water issue though.
All interesting ‘food for thought’ (Sorry, lol)
Decluttering Diva says
There’s nothing wrong with storing months of food either. In fact, I think that’s quite wise. If you have the room, that would definitely be one of the things I wouldn’t worry about.
On this blog, I often hear of people trying to use up all their extra supplies, and take what they have down to the very barest of essentials, but that makes me cringe. They’ll be in trouble if there are ever real shortages happening, or the stores are closed for some reason.
Decluttering Diva – the beauty of this blog is that no one is going to turn up at your place and inspect your pantry, I used to be one of those people that stocked the pantry for all eventualities including being able to live off it for a month or so if need be, plus I used to keep an extensive emergency kit including a seperate stash of canned food. I had an ongoing problem with pantry items not being used up and not to mention the literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars of food that sat in my pantry, fridges and freezer. The seperate stash of canned food often expired or had to be eaten in a hurry to get ahead of the expiry dates. If you had a look in my pantry and freezer right now (I’ve just done the groceries) you’d be cringing thinking its the barest of essentials, but I could guarantee my family of five could live off it easily for a month. I have a relative who did go thru a disaster and had two extra families move in due to damage on their houses, the kicker was that she was just heading out to the supermarket when it struck so she didn’t have much food in the house to begin with, but they still got thru ten days of no supermarket. She said, ironically, as their food supplies dwindled the easier it became to make meals.
Cindy did a book review on a book called the kitchen counter cooking class and it opened my eyes to food wastage and cooking improvision. Now that I keep my pantry at a minimum we eat much better and waste very little. I used to keep an array of cooking oils, now I just have the two. And so on and so on.
You’re right Declutter Diva – there is nothing wrong in storing months of food, if you have a system which avoids waste and renews before it goes off etc – we each have to do what feels right for us. I am more like Moni – when I tried it, I found it stressful, it cluttered my mind and that affects my energy levels. Also, food ran out of date and was wasted and the space it took up made it harder to clean etc. Therefore for us (just me and husband, no kids or pets to worry about) , living in an area where extremes of weather don’t really happen beyond a few days, we’ve made the choice that a month/6 weeks give us the right level of peace of mind. We’re just going to make a few tweeks with water etc but that’s it. If you have space and it gives you peace of mind, storing much more than this is the right thing for you.
I wonder if people who decide to run down their stores completely are breaking patterns of hording without thinking or system? Sometimes the choice to choose to live simply can give your brain the space to re-evaluate what you do and why.
Doodle – preparing for emergencies is an area of interest for me – short answer: yes, everyone should prepare some sort of survival kit. Longer answer: you don’t need an elaborate survival kit. You need to think about what kind of disaster or crisis could possibly affect your area and base your preparations roughly around that. Food, water, first aid supplies – if you have any particular regular medications keep a spare set. Any babies keep spare diapers and formular etc.
I had a tendancy in the past to over stock and then stuff eventually expired, so these days the freezer and pantry would be the first port of call for food. Apart from that I keep a big bag of rice in stock – wouldn’t be the yummiest of food to live on for an extended period but rice doesn’t expire and a little goes a long way.
Interesting Moni – I think we do have several months worth of pasta and dried goods – my flour lasts 6 months as I rarely use it, but in an emergency would be a good back up, ditto the large bag of porridge we have. I think where we live (south of UK, where we last had a serious weather issue in 1962 with 5 months of snow [which would be normal to most of Europe]) our biggest risk is increasing reliance of countries with a history of volatility for our oil and gas. Therefore being able to cook at all or keep warm would be our biggest threat.
Just talked about this with Mr Doodle and we’ve decided to look into things like water supplies and any other contingency planes we can think of we might not have covered.
Aimee@Middle Finger Project says
Your post rang true for me. I have this thing about blouses – finding on to fit a large chest and a small waist can be tricky, too small on the chest and perfect for the waist = a shirt pops open. And a shirt which fits my chests just drowns out my waist. So when I find one that fits – I can’t help but get multiples shirts in every colour!
Decluttering Diva says
PS I was writing in general, not just to Doodle on this.
It’s wise for all of us to have some supplies on hand like I mentioned above.
I wrote about disaster preparedness here. http://www.365lessthings.com/cindys-weekly-wisdom-disaster-preparedness/
I think if you live in an area that is prone to flood, earthquakes, tornadoes, snow ins, you should have extras of a reasonable amount of supplies. But anything that happens that disrupts that food supply for a month is such a serious disaster that there’s probably no preparing for it, unless you’re going to go whole-hog into that self-sufficient, always prepared lifestyle.
Thanks for the link Cindy – a very good read. We are going to invest on a small fireproof box and wind up radio/torch/ lamp.
Decluttering Diva says
I have to slightly disagree with you here, Cindy. You CAN be prepared for a situation that disrupts the food supply for over a month, and you don’t necessarily have to become a hard-core survivalist to do it.
Stocking up a little extra every time you shop is a pretty pain-free way to be prepared. You can deepen your pantry a little at a time, until you build up enough food to feed your family for one month, two months, six months, even a year or more.
Also, while we’re on the topic of preparedness, we should always try to have some alternative way to heat our homes too, in case the power goes out or heating fuel supplies are disrupted.
Decluttering Diva – I’m curious, what kind of disaster would disrupt life for 3, 6 ,12 months? And would you remain in that house/area if things were that bad?
Ironically my dad was employed by Civil Defence for a large chunk of my childhood, so being prepared for disaster/emergencies was right in the foreground. Yes preparedness is important, but over stocking can be counter productive too. A big stash of batteries will expire and go flat. Keeping a small stash that gets circulated thru appliances and fresh ones brought in to replace is better.
Humans can survive quite comfortably on rice. If you feel strongly on being able to feed a large number of people for an extended period of time, a 10 kilo bag (20 pounds?) will do the job. If things are that dire, everyone will be grateful. Yeah, it would be boring, but no one would starve.
I agree, heating and light are important too. I keep a box of candles, some torches and a camping lantern handy to the kitchen. Heating, well I live in a fairly mild part of the country but I used to live in a cold region and so I’m pretty sure we’d improvise our way thru.
Cindy!!! I used to purchase guitar music this way. Come to find out there is no shortage of great guitar music that I can play. I have not purchased a piece of music in years and somehow I have become a better player! Have a figgy day!!!
Music, craft supplies, I’m sure the list of what you can needlessly stock up on is endless.
I am a tall American living in Brazil. They don’t have my shoe size in the shoe stores here so the temptation is so great to buy lots of shoes when I am in the U.S. But this time I didn’t! I bought two brown pairs and three black pairs that will have to last me for 2 years. I do have a pair of tennis shoes too. I was tempted to buy some closed-toe shoes but it is so hot here that it is not worth it for the one or two weddings/formal events I MIGHT go to. They end of getting moldy and ruined any way. All of our shoes, for the whole family, are on a small shelf by the front door (we don’t have closets only wardrobes and shoes get lost and forgotten in those). It is great I don’t have any shoe collectors in my family…now English books is another thing. (sigh).
Books in English would be hard to pass up. Do you find that they mold easily in that environment? I’m curious, why do you live in Brazil?
Hi Cindy! Very timely post for me. I have been dealing with a big clothes decluttering and I have not yet reached the stage I am aiming for. However I did buy two wool blouses I liked because I might not find them anymore (?). And I bought a summer blouse because it was on sale (even though I knew I did not need another summer blouse, I have plenty of those). There was no need, just one I created in my mind. Then today I came across this post:
I am sharing with you because it has to do with today’s post and it has made me think about how I view my clothes and what I am going to do about it.
Andreia – I’m about to do a sort thru of my wardrobe as the weather slowly turns warmer, I will e-mail you and we can do this together!
Hi Moni! It would be great to do this with someone. I am feeling that I did make some progress, but I do want to try that “one year without buying clothes” challenge. What do you think?
Andreia – am always keen to have a decluttering partner! As for the one year challenge, normally I would be keen but I hit my goal weight early winter and discovered I had no winter clothes and surprisingly, my feet had gone down a size so not even my winter shoes were of any use to me. Now as we’re leading into Spring, I have the same problem as I was downsizing thru the summer and made do with what clothing I had, expecting the change of season. We ended up having the longest and hottest summer on record and I only had a few pieces left in the end. So I literally can’t go 12 months without buying clothes at this point. However I think it would be a brilliant experiment.
Deb J says
Moni, I think it is great you have gotten to your goal weight and NEED to get new clothes.
Great link, Andreia! I sure do miss our Friday favorites so that was fun to get today. Thanks!!
Deb J says
Andreia, thanks for the link. It was a good article.
I’m excited that the author discovered that what he was really addicted to was finding deals – the hunt.
I have a friend who during her childhood went through a long period of financial difficulties during which time her mum was unable to replace their towels as most wore out. Now as as adult even with plenty of financial security, she is still scared of not having enough towels and has literally hundreds, plus she can’t bring herself to throw out old ones.
I’m sure I should have something wise to say about a woman who has hundreds of towels, but honestly I can’t think of a thing. Poor gal, at least she restricts her overstocking to towels.
This is a great way of thinking about why we accumulate multiples of certain things. The use it up challenge made me realize I’ve been hoarding bars of soap! A few years ago, I purchased a bar of almond soap at TJ Maxx and loved it. So, I started buying more…
I think discount stores like TJMaxx convince us to buy more by advertising that if we don’t buy something today, it will be gone tomorrow. Advertising based on false scarcity.
“Advertising based on false scarcity.” Genius June.
Cindy – a bit of a detour here, but here is a site that I think you might find interesting:
Wow, those 10 facts about food waste are real eye openers.
Great points. I used to do the same thing. I have the opposite problem, though. My feet are HUGE! It took me a long time to realize that I don’t *need* to get everything I find in my size. Sometimes less really is more.
creative me says
My sister has very large feet and its the same thing…. if she sees a pair that fits, she buys them. Now she literally has HUNDREDS of shoes on baker’s racks dedicated to her shoes in the garage (and no room for the car).
Oh my goodness.
This post was an ah-ha moment for me. I have a scarcity mentality about several things and now I recognize why I purchase some thing too quickly and regret my selection later. (fear I won’t be able to get the thing if I wait) This is true of home decorating items and furnishings. “I have to buy this drape now!” rather than determining my best choice. I am going to continue to focus on slowing down needed purchases and confront the need to stockpile anything. “I better buy it now or they will be gone, won’t be on sale, or I won’t have it when I need it. This mentality is tryanny and enough is never enough.