Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Too much stuff

We own too much stuff. Personally, and collectively, we own too much stuff. Let me be the first to admit I have spent most of my adult life over-buying. Throughout the years, there was barely room for people in the family room on Christmas morning because the mounds of presents threatened to swallow up all empty space.

To my children, I beg their forgiveness. I created a monster. As we’ve tried to break free of this tradition over the past few years, we continually find ourselves repeating the sins of our past. Enough is enough.

As I prepare for the dreaded April 15th tax day, I’m even more aware of this over-buying addiction I have. The It’s Deductible program has helped save me hundreds of dollars on my tax obligation because year after year I donate trunk loads to Goodwill and other charitable organizations. Where did it all come from? Oh yeah, under the Christmas tree! Well, not all of it, but you get the picture.

As money got tighter, I shifted my addictive behavior from the mall to consignment shops and thrift stores. When I ‘m out of town on business and have time to kill, I look up the local Goodwill store and work it into my schedule. Or, on occasion, I’ll be driving and see a familiar thrift store sign (Salvation Army, Goodwill, St. Vincent De Paul’s, etc.) and my heart starts beating faster. I think I need a support group!

If you expecting your first baby, don’t run out to Target or Babies R Us and register for every cute toy, piece of equipment and outfit that appeals to you. Chances are, you won’t need half of the stuff you want! Talk to other moms. Many of them will tell you about the plastic bins of outgrown clothing that was barely or ever worn on their little ones and/or the amount of nearly new equipment they sold for pennies on the dollar at their last garage sale. Stuff they didn’t need!

Perhaps you can suggest to friends and family that they go together to buy big pieces of equipment you’ll need – like a crib and changing table, rather than all buying you individual smaller gifts. Research ahead of time and decide if you want a bouncer or a swing (do you really need both?)

Over-buying for our kids starts when they’re in the womb. But you can make a conscious decision not to inflict the “I want more stuff” complex on your children. There are a lot of cute things out there. It’s natural to want them all. Tweaking your desire meter might take some practice, but there’s never been a better time to start than now!

Keeping it green,



  1. I, too, was raised in a family where Christmas time was a study in excess. My husband, however, came from the "one meaningful gift" type of family. For our son, we have decided to go towards the "less is more" model. Now that he understands that Christmas and Birthdays are times of gift-giving, he can "wish for" one or two items. That is what he gets. We know we can't stop the generous others in our families from gifting, but we often hide those items away for rainy (or snowy) day treats OR we strongly suggest "non-stuff" items like museum memberships, skating lessons, trips to a favorite restaurant. It really has helped de-clutter our lives. (Now, if I could just do something about all the pairs of shoes I own!)

  2. We, too, have gone the route of gift certificates. The only problem with that is I am a huge bargain shopper, as are most of my family members. But you can't bargain shop for certificates, memberships, etc. When I can spend $7 on a $50 gift, versus $50 on a $50 membership, it makes it tough to go for the "non-stuff" present.


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