Pack Rat

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morydd
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Pack Rat

Postby morydd » Wed May 23, 2007 11:04 am

I'm a packrat. I like to blame it, at least in part, on my frugality. I keep computer parts, bits of cable and electronics, random hardware (screws, brackets, etc). And I do occasionally use some of the stuff I horde. My wife and I tend to be of the "why pay for something you can make" mind-set, but we also tend to make a few things, and then keep all the supplies for "later". We've got supplies for making cards, jewelry, assorted fabric, etc.

Anyone else have this issue? Any suggestions for organizing (I think it'll take some serious personality changes for me to _stop_ hoarding this sort of thing.) and motivating to actually make the cards/jewelry/etc?
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sandycheeks
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Postby sandycheeks » Wed May 23, 2007 1:19 pm

I'm a purger but I'm married to a hoarder (in terms of stuff). Conversely he purges the money and I hoard it LOL

Seriously, my DH has tons of odds and ends. So many that he can't find them when he needs them and often ends up re-buying stuff he already has. There is no order to his chaos and he complains about a lack of space in a 3000 square foot home plus a 25 x 25 garage (the entirety of which is filled with his crap) My car accumulates snow and ice in the winter while his junk stays nice and dry.

He has to be forced to purge and organize. It really requires a lot of handholding. But it has gotten much easier over time.

As for advice, I would enlist the help of an organized friend. Sometimes you need an impartial set of eyes. If both you and DW are hoarders , you'll talk each other into keeping everything and there will be no change. When you've determined what you don't need, start posting on craiglist, freecycle. Give it a set date, if it doesn't sell/go by xyz, donate it and get a tax deduction or take it to the dump.

I really think organizing is a lot like any other goal. It's a series of small steps. If you want to take it to an extreme (as I do periodically) check out www.flylady.com I find the system as a whole to be overwhelming but it has a few great points 1. You didn't get disorganized in one day, you won't be able to fix it in one day, and 2. Take 15 minutes every day, NO MORE, and declutter in a given zone, switch zones weekly.

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Postby Gnashchick » Wed May 23, 2007 2:52 pm

I used to live by the saying, "She who dies with the most fabric, wins." I totally understand your desire to hoard stuff. I'm also bad about keeping worn out clothing, thinking that I will cut it up for patchwork, or repair, or replace that zipper, or whatever. Honestly, I have been working on the same patchwork skirt for 6 years (OK it's a really big 9-yard skirt, but still...) I have worked as a seamstress/costumer in the past, and I know that having all the spare odds & ends is helpful.

However, computer parts are not as timeless as brass buttons and grosgrain ribbon.

Grab a box of your technology odds & ends, and set a timer for 15 minutes. Sit down with it, and take each piece out one at a time. have a trash bag on one hand and a clear sterlite storage box on the other. Pull out one piece. Now think to yourself -- are you ever really going to use that 14400 baud modem? Do you even know what type of motherboard that 128k memory stick fits into? How many years out of date is it? Do you have any other equipment that works with it? No? Toss it in the trash bag.

Once every couple of days, go through every bit of collected stuff and weed out the truly useless stuff until you're down to ONE manageable box of useful, repairable, or just plain cool stuff that you can keep. Now you can list a bag of old computer chips and boards on freecycle in hopes some aspiring artist wants it. If you can't give it away, call Goodwill and ask about their technology recycling program. (The one in my area does this) because a lot of old computer parts can be toxic in the landfill.

As for finding the motivation to actually *make* the stuff you like to do, set aside some time to do it, and make it a family activity (if you have kids) or a friends' get together. Think along the lines of a "Stitch & Bitch" party, or a scrapbooking party, or challenge your wrench-and-blowtorch inspired friends to build lawn art out of your collected bits of hardware. It could be a lot of fun!
Steal what works, fix what's broke, fake the rest

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Postby jdroth » Wed May 23, 2007 3:18 pm

I am a long-time packrat, though I'm trying to kick the habit.

I've read a couple of articles on clutter lately, and I orderd the Clutter book that people recommended here. (Don Aslett? Is that the author?) I haven't read it yet, but my wife has, and she's urged me to do some purging. I set aside about a third of my wardrobe for our upcoming garage sale. Another chunk of it is going to be unwearable soon because I'm losing weight.

Meanwhile, I'm looking to just purge all my magazines. Good grief, do I have a ton of magazines! :evil:

Yup. I'm a hoarder, too.

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morydd
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Postby morydd » Wed May 23, 2007 7:52 pm

Could you post the title/author of that book when you find it? I'll check it out from the library.
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jdroth
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Postby jdroth » Wed May 23, 2007 8:06 pm

Clutter's Last Stand by Don Aslett

I should read it. I really should. But I'm writing weblog entries. :)

brad
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Postby brad » Thu May 24, 2007 1:01 am

I used to be much more of a packrat than I am now; I used to go to garage sales and buy things I liked but didn't need, with the rationale that I might be able to use them someday. But as the years and decades went by I realized that "someday" would probably never come, so I got rid of a ton of these things. I probably have less than a third of the stuff I once did.

Moving from a large three-bedroom apartment to a small one-bedroom cottage helped me reduce my belongings, as did emigrating to Canada (when I moved here from the States, I had to prepare an inventory for Customs of everything I owned and the value of each item in Canadian dollars. That was a really good incentive to purge: if I didn't own it anymore, I wouldn't have to add it to the inventory).

I do occasionally have twinges of regret at getting rid of things, and sometimes yell at myself when I have to buy something again that I once owned, but I love the feeling of traveling light in the world. My life feels so much more manageable.

My most recent purge was to go through my files and get rid of old papers I don't need anymore...I had electricity and phone bills here going all the way back to the early 1990s, along with two large file cabinets worth of mostly useless papers I'd been saving for various no-good reasons. Since I rarely print anything anymore and keep most of my files on my computer, I'm actually going to sell one of those file cabinets; one is all I need anymore, and that will be mostly for tax- and work-related stuff.

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plonkee
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Postby plonkee » Thu May 24, 2007 1:03 am

Decluttering is like being frugal or saving money. Once you start, you just get into the swing of it. Just go for it,
In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them. John von Neumann

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tinyhands
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Postby tinyhands » Thu May 24, 2007 7:29 am

I too am a packrat. I have boxes full of stuff (mostly computer parts too) from when I moved that I haven't even opened/unpacked. I moved 3 years ago.
Read my 'fiscal fitness' financial disclosures <a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=176">here</a>.

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jdroth
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Postby jdroth » Thu May 24, 2007 9:56 am

Tinyhands reminded me of my worst packrat problem.

I used to do computer consulting on the side. Because I was a packrat, I would take any piece of computer equipment that was offered to me, no matter how out-of-date. People would replace their PCs, ask me to help set them up, and then give me the old one. When we moved to our new house three years ago, I had dozens of PCs and monitors, and scores of other computer parts. My workshop was a disaster. It was a pile of computer junk.

Eventually I'd had enough. I had converted to Mac, and was no longer interested in messing with PCs. I loaded all my old computer parts into a van and hauled them to a local non-profit that rebuilds PCs for charity. They charged me about $250 to get rid of everything, but I didn't mind. It was worth it.

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Postby MikeVx » Thu May 24, 2007 8:59 pm

Compared to me, a pack rat is a lightly loaded transient. I'm terrible at ditching stuff. I can tell you exactly why. As a child, my mother would clean solely on her priorities, which did not allow for what a little kid would consider valuable. As a result, it is baked permanently into the lowest levels of my personality that tidiness meas that loss of important/valued things. Makes house cleaning a chore like you cannot believe.


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