A reader named Ellen emailed me about how she saves money by keeping items for later use.
I call it re-boxing versus re-gifting. 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. (During these times, when hubby is on the hunt for a box, I tap into my secret stash with that ‘I told you so’ look in my eye!)
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 email 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:
1. Space cost – do you have the room to hoard? Is it worth it to stuff your closets, garage or even rent space to hold everything?
2. 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.
3. Organizational cost – do you want to spend the time organizing and keeping your stuff neat? Otherwise you’ll forget what you have and buy anew.
4. Partner cost – if saving stuff drives your partner/roomate/spouse crazy, is this a battle worth fighting? Or do you want to hide stuff, like Ellen does?
5. Replacement cost – how many dollars does the item cost new?
For me, the most important costs are No. 3 and No. 5. I’m fairly organized and I have a decent amount of storage space, so I often hoard smaller, high-value items like toiletries and clothes. I try to buy ahead of need (hence my $8.48 purchase of a sports bra at Target last week) because when I eventually need it, most of the time I will be able to find it in my closet. What about you?