Waste: Failing to Enjoy Your Possessions

When I was a teenager my mom bought me the most beautiful white eyelet dress. It was just the right length, right size, right fit, right everything. But I only wore it once. The rest of the time it hung safely in my closet. Quite honestly I was afraid to wear it. It was expensive and white and I was afraid I might spill something on it or stain it. So it hung in my closet for years, until one day as I was packing away summer items I noticed that the dress had turned yellow. (I had inadvertently hung it on a metal hanger.) Ironically I managed to do the one thing I feared; destroy it.

Looking back on that dress I realize that I wasted my parent’s money. It was not a waste that my mom bought me an expensive dress rather than a cheap one, it is a waste that I didn’t wear it more often. A lot of people waste their possessions. How many women do you know that set aside perfume bottles for special occasions, but years later find the perfume has spoiled? Or buy dresses for special occasions and years later find they’ve outgrown them. Think about your own possessions. Do you have the perfect dress pushed away in the back of your closet or your finest china stored away unused in a cabinet?

Over the past few weeks as I’ve been cleaning out my home, I’ve been amazed by the number of items I’ve set aside for special occasions. Clothes, jewelry, dishes, even cutlery. The greatest waste is not in purchasing a rarely used item, it’s in setting aside the item for a special occasion. Regardless of the cost of an item, the truth of the matter is that objects are objects meant to be worn and used and relished. The point of frugality is not to avoid purchases entirely, rather it is to fully enjoy each possession.

4 thoughts on “Waste: Failing to Enjoy Your Possessions”

  1. What a great post for my “break!” I’m sorting through my children’s winter clothes. Last winter I left directions taped inside the kids closets for their dad. (They are too young to dress themselves without help.) “Top drawer – play clothes, middle drawer – nicer clothes, hanging in closet – good clothes only dress them if I’ve told you to.” This year we will just have “play clothes” and “nicer clothes” lables! We didn’t wear enough of the “good clothes” last year!

  2. Holy cow, this really speaks to me and leads me to some contemplation. I recently was looking through my closet and came across a necktie that I purchased years ago in Germany – a tie that I LOVE, by the way… that I have only worn once or twice. What a waste. I am guilty of this very sin of omission – I tend to set nice things away and not use them, rather than getting the very most out of them. What’s was the point of cashing in the annuity (OK, the tie wasn’t THAT expensive, but it wasn’t cheap) if you aren’t going to make the most of the proceeds? Thanks for a great post.

  3. Great story. I have a similar one. I inherited a Limoges cocoa pitcher from a great aunt. My mother always said “Limoge….” in hushed tones, as if it were sacred. The message i took into adulthood is that it was hugely expensive and valuable so i kept it in the china cabinet for fear of breaking it. (I’ve actually never broken a vase, but I guess thought my inner child was still in charge of my adult behavior.) One day for kicks I asked an antique dealer about it and he said basically everyone’s grandmother had Limoges. I looked it up on Ebay and there was a cocoa pitcher just like mine — for $75 or so. From then on I’ve used it as a vase all summer long. Whatever hydrangeas I put in it look great – and I sooooooooo enjoy it. Too bad about all those years it sat on the shelf gathering dust.

  4. Enjoy all your best things today! Don’t delay! Tomorrow you may not be here. Yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery. TODAY IS A GIFT!


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