Does It Ever Make Sense To Replace Something That Is Functioning Properly?

November 23, 2013 at 3:53 PM 12 comments


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I’m in the process of organizing my house. Whenever I’m feeling a bit uneasy about life I start looking for piles that need to be sorted and toys that need to be put back on the shelf. It’s an easy way for me to release my nervous energy. I don’t know where this habit stems from, but it makes me feel so much better to look around and see everything in it’s place. I don’t typically feel 100% better once the house is neat and tidy, but I feel more productive than worrying or sitting for hours on end with my thoughts. I also have a hard time thinking straight when things are out of order, so cleaning keeps me busy and then gives me the space to think and breathe. The end product isn’t too shabby either: a house with less clutter and more room to live.

So far I’ve taken two trips to the donation center and plan to take another one this week. My organization quest began this summer when I replaced a bunch of gray storage containers with clear ones. Believe it or not I filled 6 small (32 qt) containers and 6 large (66 qt) containers primarily with hand-me-down clothing and toys for my son! The large boxes cost $6.99 a piece. The small ones cost $5.99 each. The total for all twelve came to $77.88 before tax.

The clothes are all sorted by age and range in size from 0-6 months to size 4. For the most part my son is still wearing size 18-24 months, which means more than half of the boxes contain clothing he won’t wear for at least another year or two. I’m not a big fan of storing things in the basement for two years, but the quality of hand-me-downs could not be beat.  I’m holding onto the smaller sizes in the hopes that we might have another child. If we don’t make any progress on that front within the next year then I’ll pass them on to someone else.

I spent almost $80 on new containers, but everything is now organized and easy to see. The hand-me-downs easily saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars in children’s clothing, so $80 to store it seemed quite reasonable.

Earlier this month I donated all of my mismatching bowls and other kitchen items and replaced them with items that can stack easily in our cabinets. This felt just as crazy as donating perfectly good storage containers just because they weren’t see-through. My husband and I spent an hour in TJ Maxx and walked out with $118 worth of stuff. In that case I spent a measly $6.18 out of pocket. The rest of the money came in the form of gift cards I received for completing surveys.

My last purchase was three sets of skinny hangers. After reorganizing all of the closets in our house I decided to get rid of the funky, mismatching hangers that seemed to take up a ridiculous amount of space on each rod. One final trip to the store and I became the proud owner of three new sets of hangers that provide a world of space in the closets. I purged a bunch of stuff that freed up space, but those skinny hangers really make my life easier. I can see almost everything in closet, (I don’t have much stuff in there anymore), without moving everything back and forth to find what I’m looking for. Each set of hangers cost $9.99. I also bought two sets of pant hangers, which cost a total of $7.98. The grand total for four sets of hangers: $37.95 before tax.

All told I spent $233.83 to reorganize the house. Four sets of hangers, 12 storage containers and countless new stackable bowls and other kitchen items. Thanks to the TJ Maxx gift cards I spent just under $125 (before tax) for all the items.

Did I need new hangers, bowls and storage boxes? Probably not. The items I had in the house were completely functional and to be honest it felt very strange to get rid of things that were perfectly useful. After all a bowl is a bowl, isn’t it?

In this case I fought the urge to keep the items I owned. I passed them on to the donation center and hope that someone else will use them. They serve the needs they were designed for, they just didn’t keep things as organized as I wanted.

Would you spend money to reorganize your house? Do you think replacing functional items is a complete waste of money?

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ellen K.  |  November 24, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    I think that’s a good deal! I keep a line item in our household budget for “small improvements,” which includes organization purchases. Our household has changed a lot since we originally bought the house, and as the kids grow up, it becomes more important to make things more visible and accessible. One of the best things I’ve done was to buy several strong clear over-the-door shoe bags to hang on the inside of the bathroom closet and office/coat closet door. So handy for all the little things that we frequently use and get lost in the jumble!

    Before the girls were born, my husband and I spent a morning sorting through all the mismatched glassware from our single days plus wedding gifts. We got rid of 30+ glasses.

    Have you ever read Julie Morgenstern’s books on organization? Very helpful and practical because the system is about making you aware of how your mind works and what features you instinctively prefer. I’ve been able to use this for all sorts of purchases, especially smaller personal items like makeup bags, handbags, wallets, etc.

    • 2. One Frugal Girl  |  November 25, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      Oh Ellen K. I love the idea of using over-the-door shoe bags. What a great suggestion. I have a bunch of little items that tend to get lost in our hall closet. This would really help make them visible and accessible!

      My husband and I also performed a ‘glasses purge’ though I’m pretty sure we could use another one of those. I can never seem to find glasses that stack properly. Ha! Maybe you shouldn’t have written that comment, now I’m going to be thinking about replacing them too 🙂

      I have never read Julie Morgenstern’s books, but a few other commenters have suggested them over the years. Perhaps it’s time for me to read one. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • 3. elle sees  |  November 25, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    i’m all for organizing and spending that money will save money in the long run. i love the huggable hangers and swear by them.

    • 4. One Frugal Girl  |  November 25, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      So far I’m in complete agreement. There are so many ways to waste money and this really has made life better and easier. I didn’t even think about the ‘huggable’ quality of the hangers. That has been a nice perk. I was really just going for ‘skinny.’ Thanks for the comment!

  • 5. Use It Until It Breaks? - The Simple Dollar  |  November 27, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    […] mention the blog article he was referencing, I would guess that he was talking about “Does It Ever Make Sense To Replace Something That Is Functioning Properly?” over at One Frugal […]

  • 6. Maria  |  November 27, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    I switched over to the huggable hangers when I lived in an apartment with a laundry room that charged $1 per dryer load and it would take 2-3 runs to dry clothes and only had one heat setting, which was basically ‘fry.’ They are awesome for hanging up shirts to dry because they don’t leave hanger marks in the shoulders and you can just put them in the closet when they are dry. I’ve even had luck with some of my nicer cotton dress shirts drying well enough that I don’t have to iron them! (Better fabric is another place I’m happy to spend money. I HATE ironing.)

    • 7. One Frugal Girl  |  November 28, 2013 at 4:28 PM

      We also hang dry our laundry, it seems to help fabrics last longer and saves money. I didn’t notice the lack of hanger marks, but now that you mention it out I do see the difference!

  • 8. Lindsey  |  November 28, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    This is appeasing your psychological discomfort. That may or may not be worth it to you, but it is certainly not putting anything in your savings (compound interest), your retirement, or a kid’s college fund, and it adds trash to the environment. It is not frugal in the slightest.

    • 9. One Frugal Girl  |  November 28, 2013 at 4:26 PM

      You may be right, but even if it only aides my psychological comfort I still argue that it is money well spent.

  • 10. » A Wad of Money is Not the End Goal One Frugal Girl  |  November 29, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    […] bare neccessities. A lot of people read my posts and comment on my lack of frugality. You bought new hangers, bowls and storage containers? How dare you?!! What a waste of money! I myself struggled with the decision to buy these items, […]

  • 11. Janice Williford Evans  |  November 29, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    we live and travel full time in a motor home. . .I am forever looking for better storage solutions. If one thing doesn’t work, I am never opposed to making a change. . .and all the discards go to a local charity. . .so no guilt.

    I’m with you. . .psychological peace of mind is well worth $200. . .and you donated your gently used cast offs. . .good for you!

    • 12. One Frugal Girl  |  December 2, 2013 at 8:23 PM

      Thanks for the kudos Janice. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one willing to pay for peace of mind.


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