Silly Sounding, but Simple: Use Your Stuff
I've written before about how I'm a reformed (or, at least, reforming) pack rat. Last month, when I was going through bins of old stuff at my parents' house, I rediscovered one of what I deem to be the sadder aspects of my particular pack-ratness — not using nice things.
In high school, I liked the cartoon "Sailor Moon." Around that time, I went on vacation with my family to Florida, and I was thrilled to find these awesome, straight-from-Japan Sailor Moon stickers at a toy store. So I bought 'em. I did a lot of letter writing at the time, and I used some of them on letters I mailed to friends.
But the majority of those stickers? When I was home earlier this year, I found them in a bin in the basement. I had thought that they were so nice, so precious, that I had to save them for the perfect time.
The reality is that usually, there isn't a perfect time to use things like this.
It's a lesson I'm still trying to learn. If I get nice things — things that are high-quality, delicate, or that I just really enjoy — I want to make sure that they last, and that I enjoy them as much as I can. And I don't think that's a bad urge. Taking good care of items, using those items judiciously, and appreciating the things you have are all important parts of frugality. But there are times even recently when I've taken it too far — there was the truffle oil from Italy that sat on my shelf for so long, waiting for the right meal, that the rich truffle flavor faded; there was the amazing-looking dress I splurged on that sat in the back of my closet for six months because I feared that I'd spill food all over it (I'm clumsy, so this is not unfounded).
I've been working on enjoying the things I have now — not "soon," not when "the time is right." I've been wearing that dress out on dinner dates. And while the truffle oil may be long gone, the fancy cocktail bitters I received as a gift? I'm always thrilled to mix a drink with them for guests at my apartment.
It's something my mom has been working on as well. I credit her for much of my wonderful frugality, but this mindset is something I might have also picked up from her. She's told me before about the drawer of nice nightgowns she used to have and never wore. I called her while working on this post to ask her about why she didn't wear them. Her answer? "Because they were too nice."
But, while we were having that conversation, she also told me about how one of her recent basement-emptying jaunts revealed the box of lead crystal glasses my parents received as a wedding gift. She decided to put them into regular household rotation. "I think that's something that's more of my generation," she said. "You had one set of dishes for everyday, and one set of dishes for company. But it's just so silly [to keep them stored away]. What, are we not good enough for the nice glasses?"
Yup; it is silly to keep them stored away. Here's to enjoying and appreciating the things we have — today.