Monday, 15 September 2014

Minimalist v. Frugalist

I having been pondering on this one – and I am still undecided. I often think I should like to be a minimalist – simplifying things, and reducing my possessions.

gandhi jpgteresa

It is said that Mahatma Gandhi believed so fervently in the life of the spirit that he had only a handful of material possessions when he died – a watch, sandals, spectacles, and a few similar items. Similarly, Mother Teresa left just a bucket and two saris. Now you could argue that the nun lived with the other nuns, and was provided with a bed, bedlinen, and meals – so did not need to ‘own’ plates, cups, bathtowels etc. But lots of other people live relatively minimal lives within the context of a more conventional 21st century Western World existence. They have ‘capsule’ wardrobes, use just a basic set of kitchenware [2 pans, 2 knives, one chopping board etc] and keep all their reading material on one little Kindle.


I am aware that if ‘hoarding’ means ‘keeping something for which you have no immediate use’, then I am definitely a hoarder. And I justify this to myself by saying that this is being frugal. If I get rid of this thing now I may have to spend money on replacing it later. Don’t frugal people need to keep things ‘just in case’? This past few days, I have found uses for ‘just in case’ stuff.


A couple of years ago, we gained two chairs which another person in the village was throwing out because their legs were damaged. Bob was able to make one good chair from the two damaged ones, and it now lives at Cornerstones in the back bedroom. But he stripped all the leather from the second chair and kept it in the garage. On Thursday I was using that leather to finish off another project [I shall write awl about that later!] It would have cost a lot to buy a piece of leather.


On Friday, a colleague in the staffroom asked ‘Does anyone have any pine cones please? I need some for Wednesday week’ Much shaking of heads and mutterings of ‘Sorry, no’ – I went over and said ‘I have a sweet jar full of them that you can have’ and explained they were left over from a Church Holiday Club Craft. I didn’t dare tell her which year they were left over from! They’ve been in the garage for ages


On Saturday I was involved in a rather sticky craft project involving PVA glue. Fortunately I have a tub full of little plastic pots which contain disposable gloves [you get a pair in every box of hair dye- but I use the same pair over and over for that until the gloves split] So I was able to keep my hands clean [and yes, I did throw away the very sticky gloves afterwards]


I’ve sorted out the work I shall be doing with my new SATs students – and put it into some old folders which I had emptied out 2 years ago and stored in the loft. And that’s saved me the cost of purchasing more

I think my problem is making intelligent decisions about how many boxes of these things I need to keep. In the box of folders in the loft were also dozens [yes, honestly that many] of cardboard ring binder files accumulated down the years – and then emptied of their contents when no longer needed. What do I do with them?

  • I shall never have need for all of them.
  • Charity shops don’t want these items
  • You cannot even give them away on Freecycle
  • I feel uncomfortable just throwing them away

Any suggestions? And while we are at it, my jiffy bag collection is getting rather large too – even if everything I ever advertise on eBay sells and I do lots of blog-giveaways, I won’t need all these padded envelopes [I must have samples in every size they produce, from tiny to huge] I did manage to reduce my mammoth pen & pencil collection over the summer. I took a large box of [new & unused] items to Holiday Club and we gave them away as prizes each day.

Do you have items which you hoard?

How do you manage to declutter your stash?

Is it possible to combine being a minimalist and being a frugalist?


  1. I do keep things for longer than probably necessary, my problem is remembering where I've put them and have to buy new anyway...and then I have two! :D

  2. Every now and then, I have a good and fairly thorough search through my various 'Stashes'/'Hoards and mostly am able to recycle/give away some of it(Angela, you know I do!). Currently on week 2 of sorting through this 'useful' stuff, having read a plea on Freegle from someone who recycles/crafts it and sells for the Rainbows Childrens Hospice. It has a three-way good thing about it, it helps this person keep occupied as, they are in need of it due to illness, it raises funds for the Hospice and it gives them the satisfaction of a very good deed done.
    I still have items I won't part with (not yet anyway), like the set of 5 books in a fictional series I love. Certain dvds,cds etc.And I still have a substantial textile and sewing sundries stash to keep me going for years!

    1. I was incredibly impressed by the amount you managed to declutter when you moved house - and I know you try very hard to pass things on to people and places who will appreciate them.

  3. You sound as if you have a good strategy. It is always useful to keep a decent supply of items, but perhaps in moderate quantities. Dear Uncle has a habit of keeping broken items, old toasters and kettles and the suchlike which I don't think is particularly useful, though, so I don't advocate that! I'm trying to find a balance here and struggling a little - working out just how long I need to keep certain items of paperwork, for example! Good luck with your dilemma - I'm never going to be a minimalist as I have too many books!!

    1. I know where Uncle is coming from! I worry about them ending up in landfill and at least in my house, they might find a method of recycling or fixing if they remain in the house!

  4. Now the weather is changing I must tackle the clutter which is now occupying the second bedroom!

  5. I'm not a hoarder,I'm a minimalist by nature...Chris likes to keep things just in case.Well, they say opposites attract!
    Jane x

  6. It must be the decluttering time of year, because that's what I'm working on, too! I tend to hoard school supplies, art supplies, and books. I'm trying to do with books what you're supposed to do with clothes--if I haven't picked a book up or thought about it in over a year, and if I don't think I'll read it again, or if I can find it in the library, out it goes.

    I would like to be a minimalist, but I fear I'm not.


  7. Don't you ever post on Freegle/Freecycle with offers of things you are sure you could get rid of? I've done that with strange things and been amazed how people snap them up: an unreliable TV, oddments of carpet. I'm sure at this time of the year many folk would welcome lever arch etc. I am trying to be more minimalist in the new house. Helping my parents move a month before we did made me think of all the things that i couls stuff the cupboards with now, only for the boys to have to make a decision about them later. So if in doubt now, I send on somewhere. I've had to actually throw ou very little. A local charity has a container at our local dump/recycling place, so anything vaguely useful goes in there. i put all our clothes and linen etc in a cash for clobber bin at our last church. They use it for fundraising. I couldn't get over how many boxes we needed when we packed up Strawberry Land, when I didn't feel we had that much stuff. We did. The whittling continues!

  8. I think we hoard the same items as you. Our garage is full to the brim of things that 'might come in useful'. You can guarantee that if we do throw things away, we always have a use for them the next day. Perhaps we are 'justincasers'.

  9. I have two suggestions:

    a) Jiffy envelopes: Can you put sticky labels to cover up the old addresses on the good ones and then put them in a box and either ask the post office if they could have them for a "10p donation for charity" box (or just for free), that people can get if they want to send an envelope or do the same at a church event- leave the box out clearly lavelled with the job already done (covering up the addresses) for people and they'd be sure or more likely to use them?

    b) The ring binders: offer them to children at school maybe? If you wanted to make them more attractive, decopage or cover them in funky wrapping paper or even better, save them as a craft for a church event where the children get to do a fun patchwork folder for themselves, covering your old folders inside and out so they have a cool original folder. You could have alphabet stickers too for their names or something?

    I found some old diaries I hadn't written in or had barely written in and I offered them to some kids at school as notebooks to just draw or write in and they were really pleased. I now use them for making notes in music lessons about the kids too.

    I feel exactly the same about the 'Then later, I won't have to buy this item' thing about being frugal. Large household appliances that no longer work make me sick at the amount of waste they create!x

  10. I think you have to be well organised to be a good hoarder


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