Apr 10 2011

trash or treasure? [day 319]

There’s a lot of stuff that might be considered trash, but before you throw something away, think about the possible uses for it.  These are partially full cleaning supplies and pesticides, well, there’s also a random bottle of unopened champagne too.  Just because it’s half empty (or half full, depending on your perspective) and you don’t want it, dosen’t mean someone else can’t use it.  I list this on freecycle and it was gone in a matter of hours.  Yes, it’s my waste, but it doesn’t need to end up in a landfill or disposal center.

Before you throw things away, here’s some things to think about.

  • Repurpose. Could I repurpose this for something else?
  • Sell. Is this something that I could sell?
  • Give. Is this something I could give away?  Do I know anyone who might use this or need this?  Will a thrift store take it?  Remember, your trash might be some else’s treasure.  Put it on freecycle.  If it doesn’t go on freecycle, it might just be trash.
  • Green. What is the best environmental way to get rid of this item?  Can it be recycled?
  • Good. Is there a way to use this to bless someone else?  Can you give it to a fundraiser or charity?
  • Plan. Why did you buy this in the first place?  Have you made a plan not to buy it, or anything similar again?
  • Repurchase. If you need this item or something similar in the future, is there a smaller size or is it something you can borrow?

Yes, this is a lot to think about each time you plan to get rid of something, but if you start doing this, it will change your habits.  It will be easier to get rid of things because you will have a process and your shopping habits will change, as you will think long-term about something before you buy it.  It’s a win-win.  :)


Mar 4 2011

stuff is not an investment [day 282]

I had an eBay business while I was doing freelance work several years ago.  I started eBay for one simple reason.  I sell my Syquest Sparq drive and cartridges.  Back in the late 90’s, the Iomega Jaz drive was the industry standard for backing up you data.  They were great, but they cost a lot of money.  The drive was around $400 and the 1GB cartridges were $100.  I was really excited when Syquest came out the Sparq drive.  You could get the drive for half the price of a Jaz and the cartridges were 3 for $100.   I bought one the same week they came out on the market.  They were running a design contest and the prize was 50 cartridges.  Wow!  With those I could get rid of all my 3.5 disks and a lot of my cd’s.  To the drawing board!  Digital, of course.

I entered 3 designs, and here’s the one that yielded me 50 of these amazing cartridges.

Yes, by today’s design standards, it’s lame, but it got me over $1,500 in digital storage.  Sweet!  As one of my friends said back then, I had enough of these to tile a small room.  That was all great until these drive started having big time issues.  The company replaced my drive at one point, but I already knew these were not going to last.  I joined eBay, sold off my new, unopened replacement drive and all of the cartridges for just under $2,000.  Before ceasing my good eBay business, I had done over 5,000 transactions and at several points, was a power seller. Continue reading


Feb 26 2011

wine or 70’s bubble bath? pick one already! [day 276]

I know my friend would never lie to me, but I really had to question that when she said she was standing in the wine aisle at Walmart, looking at pink cat-shaped bottles of wine.  I said, “no way!  Send me a photo.”  She did.

So, is it me, or does anyone else find this a bit disturbing?  I like cats.  I like wine.  I just don’t think bright pink cat wine would be anything good.  It looks like retro bubble bath from the 70’s, and would probably go nice with the bubble bath tea I had a couple of weeks ago.  There’s just some things that shouldn’t be combined.

I guess these are pretty popular in the cat-wine world, as I found a few photos where people are collecting them.  Yes, they come in more than just pink.  The pink one has the pink breast cancer awareness ribbon on it, although I don’t know anything about what they support.  If these were in my house, they would be supporting a lot of dust.

If you happen to be shopping, and you’re an entrepreneur, you might want to buy all of these little guys off the shelf.  According to the people selling them on eBay, they’re rare.  For approximately $40, with shipping, you too can have one of these to sit on your shelf.

Why do we collect things that collect dust?  I do it, maybe not cat-wine, but I have decorative things around my house.  The stuff is nice, but it’s always needing cleaning.  I guess we all like to surround ourselves with things we like, I’m just hoping to surround myself with a little less.  And I also don’t want to be so attached to those things.


Feb 22 2011

a smart shopper [day 272]

I was asked last night if I ever shopped like a real woman.  I’m not quite sure how I should take that…  Yes?  At least I think so, from what I’ve studied about them.  😉  Seriously, my shopping habits are more like a man.  I have an easier time buying a $500 TV than a $50 pair of jeans.  Big ticket items just seem like more value for the money, I suppose.

In the past, I would go to the superstore places and buy things I didn’t need, buying them only because I liked them.  I never thought long term about them, much of the stuff ending up on eBay or in a thrift store.  I also loved shopping in thrift stores, but I would buy things just because I liked it a little bit, but it was a great deal.  Again, much of this went back to the thrift store.  I would sometimes want to redo a room in the house, and I would go buy things for that room, usually making the Ross-Marshall’s-TJ Maxx-Tuesday Morning run.

This is the only explanation of how I accumulated so much stuff.  In the future, I hope my shopping habits aren’t defined as “shopping like a woman” or “spending like a guy”, but as being a smart shopper.  Maybe this will be the one time people can call me smart without following that word with a smaller 3 letter word.  😉


Feb 21 2011

photography reflector [minimalist challenge item #4]

[item] Photo reflector, double sided

[purchase info] Purchased on eBay

[time in my possession] Approximately 5 years

[last used] 3 years ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Donation to church

[info] I have 2 of these.  I don’t need two and I never used them both at the same time.  This is the larger of the 2, but I prefer to work with the smaller one.  This was not a good purchase, it was me being a hoarder.  😉


Feb 10 2011

the desire to get new stuff [day 260]

After having my house painted, and having everything moved, I was very careful with what I moved back into my space.  I rearranged a few things, but mostly, I purged a lot of stuff.  Unfortunately, because of the weather, it’s all sitting in my garage.  My new “minimalist” approach to my space is nice, but yesterday, I did have the desire to buy a few things.  I didn’t, and I won’t, but I thought I might share what I wanted to buy.

New lamps. I need a couple of more lamps, as my house is still a bit dark.  I wanted some hanging lamps for over my bed for reading lights.  Right now, I’m using a nice looking lamp, but one that doesn’t really fit in the space.  But it’s light, I can see and it will work for now.  I also have a matching set of lamps that were out in the garage and I decided to bring them back in the house.  The bottom is busted out of the floor lamp and I got tired of cleaning up the sand from it.  It’s in a fixed place now, still broken, but not causing me any hassle.

I will still keep looking on eBay and craigslist for one or two more lamps, but I’m in no hurry and I will only buy what I want… pre-owned.

Bedding. Mine is still in perfect condition, but I want a new color.  There.  I said it.  I had a desire to buy something I completely don’t need.  So I’m not, but the thought did cross my mind.  How many times in the past did I want new bedding and I actually went out and bought it?  How many times have I done that with other things?

Door knobs and broomsticks. Okay, so I really don’t want any broomsticks, but I do want new door knobs.  My house is 17 years old, a couple years older than my car.  After having all of my doors painted, I have no desire to put the shabby looking gold knobs back on.  As a matter of fact, I’m leaving them off until I find the ones I want to put on.  I’d rather look at the holes in the beautifully cream colored, satin finished doors than to see them with the ugly brass-gold knobs.  My house is very modern and that’s the last detail item that needs changing.  Need… probably a strong word there.  They don’t really need to be changed, but I want them to be changed.  I’m going to hold out for the brushed nickel ones, looking daily on craigslist and eBay.  I’ve found some, but they were too far to drive.  I’ll probably check the Habitat Restore too.  I’ll also make sure my old ones go to a loving home, a home that likes that style and color.

I’m not going shopping, and the funny thing is, I will probably forget about the bedding, I will get a lamp when I see one I like and I’ll probably get used to the holes while I’m looking for knobs.  By the way, the bathroom door still has a knob, so you can come visit and use the bathroom without it being an awkward situation.  😉


Feb 3 2011

hello, my name is jody and I’m a hoarder [day 252]

So this is the third day we’ve been “iced” in.  This is clearly not snow, as you can walk on top of it.  I even saw a video of a kid ice skating in the street.  My kids are bouncing off the walls and I’m so ready for this mess to go away, and them to be back in school.  I’ve been working from home most of these three days, but I’ve also spent a little time cleaning too.  It’s forced cleaning, and here’s why.

I finally hired someone to paint all of my doors and baseboards.  As much as I would like to do this myself and save the labor cost, I simply don’t have the time, or the desire, to do it.  My time will be better spent doing other things and the guy I hired really needs the work, so much that he drove here in the icy crap to work in my house.  It’s a win-win.

Having baseboards and closets painted is basically like moving.  It’s a good opportunity to not only clean everything, but to purge.  I still have way too much stuff and I need to keep downsizing.  I’m a hoarder.  Not to the extent of the people on the TV show, as those are the most extreme cases, but I’m a low level pack rat.  The few rooms I have downsized are really making me think how much stress and hassle it is to own so much stuff.  It’s simply not needed.  I listed a bunch of stuff on freecycle and it all went within a day.  I have so much more to get rid of!  Being in my house with all this stuff is making me crazy!

My garage is now the “last stop” in the process of purging.  Everything from my house is going out to the garage, from there, it will be sorted, purged then the remaining items will be organized, cleaned and brought back in.  I can honestly say, not much as come back in.

When purging and organizing you stuff, here’s a few tips that might help.  I could write a whole book on everything I’ve learned through this process, but I’ll just share a few of the major points.

Sort the mess.

Have bins or boxes set up for all of the “stuff destinations” you have planned.  You’ll stay in gridlock, shuffling things around with some basic sorting plans.  Here was my destination list:

  • freecycle
  • eBay / craigslist
  • keep
  • thrift store
  • recycling
  • trash
  • someone I know that wants this

Waste not, want not.

Keep in mind that you might not want this stuff, but that doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t be blessed by having it.  It’s not any additional work to take things to a thrift store versus the city dump.  And freecycle?  People will come get it right from your house, you don’t even have to take it anywhere!  Less physical work and just a small amount of time on the computer listing it on freecycle.org.

What to keep, what to part with.

This is the most difficult part of the process.  My first question to myself is, “Can I easily get this again if I need it?”  Other questions might include, “When is the last time I used this?” or “Do I see a need for this in the near future?”  Go through this process.  If you’re hung up on an item, put it in the keep bin.  Once you’ve done this process once, go through it again.  I sometimes make 4 or 5 passes through my stuff.  I’ve purged a lot and so far, I’ve had no regrets of anything I gave away.

Staying organized.

Once you’ve purged a room, keep the clutter out by having an area to put things.  My garage is the “catch all” for every room.  The clutter goes out there in a designated spot, and rarely does any junk make it back into the house.  When organizing a room, don’t pack everything in, leave space for a few new things and space to stay organized.  Also, when cleaning out a room, take everything out.  Start from scratch.  It’s easier and you will be able to purge more and organize more easily.

Again, this is not a comprehensive list, but it’s a few of the biggest helpers in downsizing.  I have to say, it’s a long process, but it feels really good!


Jan 26 2011

recycle freecycle [day 246]

Freeycycle is the modern day dumpster diving, without having to touch a dumpster or trash can.  From the freecycle site: It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ above the search box. Have fun!

I had my first free items from freecycle.org a couple of weeks ago.  Three empty 5-gallon paint buckets from Home Depot.  I really needed just one, but the others will come in handy too, as I need to get rid of most of the paint I’ve been hoarding for years.

A few days ago, I got 3 lamps from freecycle.  One of them being a really cool, ultra-modern lamp, but needing repair to the on/off switch.  I haven’t repaired the lamp yet, but I can use the electrical from one of the other lamps that was missing a shade.  This lamp was not cheap and is probably the nicest lamp I own now.  The other small lamp, also missing a shade, will be my new energy efficient light in the nook on my staircase.  I ran electrical to that a couple of months ago since there was electrical in the closet underneath the stairs.

I’ve also gotten rid of things that I don’t need anymore.  Clutter is not my friend, so this made it easy.  I had some fence boards that I had no place to store.  Someone on freecycle was getting as many fence pieces as possible so he could build a new fence.  Smart dude, as he probably saved $5k and kept a lot of wood out of the landfill.   Continue reading


Jan 6 2011

the green machine [day 223]

I’m really not sure exactly how much money I’ve saved doing this challenge, as I haven’t tracked it, however I know it’s a substantial amount.  I have no debt, I’m not always broke and comparing my finances to last year, I’ve spent way less.  I attribute the savings to these:

  • No retail. Buying things from eBay, craigslist, thrift stores and yard sales saves 75% or more off retail prices.
  • No impulse buys. Staying out of retail stores and practicing the 24 hour rule with my kids (day 140) works great!
  • Smart shopping. For the groceries and toiletries stuff I have to buy, I price shop shop in stores where I know the prices are generally lower.  I try and buy some generic brands and buy things with minimal packaging.
  • Usage. Will I really use this?  Is it something I’ve wanted for a while or something that just popped into my head?  If I haven’t been looking at something for a while, I wait.  If I really want or need it, it will stay in my mind.
  • Trading & sharing. I make trades with friends and share things like tools, yard equipment and things not used frequently.  This minimizes the amount of stuff I have, making cleaning and organizing much easier.
  • Counterculture. We didn’t do Christmas like the rest of society.  No Christmas bills!  It was still a very good Christmas, just different than the rest of the USA.
  • Look ahead. How long will this item last?  What’s the maintenance and upkeep cost?  Is it green?

Looking at all of this, my kids and I made a recent large item purchase.  It’s something we had in our old house and used quite a bit, all year long.  We’ve been wanting one for four years now, since we moved into this house.  The used market on the item has good availability, but difficult to find certain models.  Many are in working order, many are not.  Some require lots of extra money for set up, installation and transportation.  So what is it?  A hot tub.  Continue reading


Jan 1 2011

new year's resolutions [day 219]

I don’t have any resolutions for the new year.  I’m doing the no shopping challenge, I’m getting a lot of things done in my house and I’m doing most of the things I want/need to be doing.  One thing I do want to change is my cooking habits.  Cooking is not fun for me, but I’m trying to be better about cooking more and eating out less.

I upgraded my kitchen this week so I have more counter space and I bought the final piece of Le Creuset cookware to complete my collection.  Yes, all of it was used.

I found an island for my kitchen on craigslist.  I’ve been thinking about doing this for about a year now, but the island has to be on wheels and a very specific size to fit in my kitchen.  Color is no problem, as I can redesign it.  I needed something solid so I can tile the top of it.  After looking at islands, I think this one retails for around $150-$200.  I paid $60.  Here it is after the makeover.

The drawers are on the other side.  I have the tile to do the top, but I didn’t have the setting materials or grout, so I decided to do an artistic treatment and collage artwork on the top.  It’s a great thing to do to recycle and reuse books or magazines.  It’s easy to do, just use spray glue for the artwork, layer it until you’re happy with it and paint a couple coats of clear acrylic over it.  It’s very durable, as I have a bathroom floor done this way.

The next item I purchased (Merry Christmas to me) was from eBay.  It’s the final piece to my Le Creuset cookware.  I bought a steamer insert 6 years ago and the guy at the store told me it would work with a pot I already had.  It didn’t.  So this was not an impulse buy, as I’ve been planning to buy this for a while.  Why?  Let’s just say my MacGyver steamer rig didn’t work out so well.  It steamed great, but it took about 3 hours to clean up and luckily didn’t ruin my stove.  It was pricey, but it works into the no retail thing.  $188 including shipping.  This pot retails new for $315 and you can’t kill this stuff, it will be passed on to your grandkids.

I didn’t pay a lot for most of my pieces.  I got my first one at the thrift store for $4.  I got a set for free with my AMEX points.  All of the others were eBay or factory seconds, and I got their coupon calendar, so I paid next to nothing.

I guess I really didn’t need any of this stuff, but it’s all used and because I was not in a hurry, I found exactly what I wanted and for a good price.  Value might be a better word.  Happy new year.