What Do You Have Too Much of?

by Katy on June 22, 2009 · 38 comments


My name is Katy and I am a recovering packrat. It’s been two weeks since my last thrift store excursion.

I have spent the majority of my adult life stalking garage sales and thrift stores for diamonds in the rough. That perfect Fiestaware platter, that perfect vintage tablecloth. The thrill of the hunt, and the subsequent display of my fresh kill.


Fast forward 20 years and that perfect Fiestaware platter is now in the way, and that perfect vintage tablecloth? Lost among a sea of other perfect tablecloths.


How much kitchenware does a girl need?!

I’ve slowly been winnowing down my collections, but I can still host a party for 30 without even entertaining the thought ofΒ a paper plate.

Letting go of belongings is not easy for me. I remember where the object came from and often how much I paid. But I have to remind myself that the important word here is “object.” It’s a thing, and it has no feelings.

The garage sale that I held a few weeks ago was extremely cathartic. To witness the clutter of my life leaving my house, with the added bonus of money in my pocket was an intoxicating blend. I am now viewing my belongings as potential moneymakers, (after years of Goodwill donations) and I plan on having another sale before too long. Because yes, I unfortunately have enough stuff to stage another big sale.

As my house has slowly decluttered, my life and frankly my time have become much more free. I’m spending less and less time cleaning and organizing, and more time doing, well . . . whatever I want.

Which brings me to the question:

What do you have too much of, and how does that affect you?

Is it books, thimbles or painted Mrs. Butterworth bottles? Is it ceramic owls, picture frames or comic books?

Please share how you’re dealing with your stuff in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

LisaPie June 23, 2009 at 12:19 am

Oh Katy,
I can’t believe you asked this question! And after sharing your love of your Fiestaware and vintage table linens you are going to think I am a copycat for saying many of the same things! However, I am much older than you and come from a long line of shop-a-holic “collectors”!

I have 4 complete service for 12 and I love them all. I have 2 sets of stainless, 1 set of silverplate and 1 set of sterling flatware. I have a collection of Mexican talavera and pewter crosses. I have pewter serving pieces from 5 different countries. I have a collection of nativities from every country I have visited. There is a shelf full of antique cookbooks I have acquired. I also love vintage table and bed linens. (remember all the comments on people not wanting to use used bed linens? I think I was the only dissenter) And I have an interesting collection of walruses.

However, since I started compacting in Jan. 2007 I have not added to any of my collections. I have even thinned the herds, so to speak, of some of them. And like you, after years of hauling things to Goodwill, I am now trying to make my collections turn into an increase in my savings account.

I sure hope I don’t check back here in a couple of days and find I am the worst hoarder, collector, packrat of all!


Tara Morrison June 23, 2009 at 5:55 am

Books, Books and more Books. That is the problem at our house. We always buy used and we utilize the library but there are certain books we want of our own. I have an extensive 200+ cookbook collection, my husband has philosophy and theology library that would be envied by a small college and of course kids books; Richard Scarry, James Marshall, and other old and new favorites.
I don’t have a problem of letting go after having been through hurricanes and having my heirloom engagement ring stolen shortly after Ivan hit. Objects can be replaced and having things is just that. My joy and happiness comes from experiences now.
We don’t sell a ton of used stuff mostly we donate to groups who need it. My husband has made a good point about giving things away to people in need, have you ever regretted giving away something to someone who truly needed it?


fairydust June 23, 2009 at 6:44 am

I’ve often said to DH that if we just took a blow torch to everything in the house, that would be fine! He’s a packrat extraordinaire, and as a result we have piles and shelf-fulls and boxfuls of STUFF, everywhere. It’s not to the point of some of those expose’s on news shows where the cameraman can’t even walk through the clutter of some poor person who couldn’t control himself collecting old newspapers or whatever. But it’s not too far away from that either! DH says he has lots of stuff he wants to sell on ebay, but that means he expects me to do it for him, and while I used to ebay regularly, I got kind of tired of all the work (photo’ing, weighing, packing, cleaning, describing, etc.) for usually very little return.

I’ve never had a yard sale, although I’ve fantasized about it. Again, laziness and being married to a packrat who can’t actually bring himself to get rid of stuff gives me pause – it’s a baaad combination.


Divine Bird Jenny June 23, 2009 at 6:49 am

I have too many books, movies, and action figures. My husband and I just cut our movie collection down by over half last night, though–he brought two paper bags of DVDs to work for people to take.

Also, does this mean you’re getting rid of your fiestaware platter? ‘Cause if so, let me know. πŸ™‚ I collect (SLOWLY) Fiestaware pieces and one thing I don’t have is a platter. πŸ˜‰


steplikeagiant June 23, 2009 at 8:10 am

I am going to go out on a limb here and say, I am kind of jealous of you guys. I hate buying anything because I hate going shopping for anything and therefore I have nothing. I need clothes and shoes so bad, yet I can’t bring myself to go buy them. I think it’s great that you guys like to find deals on great stuff. You should do it for people like me and offer it as a service πŸ™‚ Then you could get your thrills without spending or cluttering.


Meg from FruWiki June 23, 2009 at 9:19 am

Well, some might say I have too many shoes and other accessories πŸ™‚ I do hope to cut down my collection a little, but I don’t see myself going minimalist there (makes up for the fact that my wearable clothing is greatly diminished till I lose some pounds). And sometimes I look at my husbands storage and wonder if maybe there are some computer parts he could sell or get rid of, but he’s downsized it already and that’s our business, so I guess that will stay.

Other than that, I think we’ve done quite well. We’ve really tackled the clutter over the past year or so and it’s paid off. No more hiding stuff under the bed when company comes! Cleaning is soooo much easier without having to move piles around! And every night it’s easy for us to go around and clear tables and other surfaces in just a few minutes so that we can wake up the next morning and be greeted by a clutter free house. It’s very destressing!

The best part, though, is when my husband goes, “I was checking to see if I had a certain part, but I now know that I don’t because if I had it would be here.” He says this with a bit of excitement and amazement in his voice because living in an uncluttered house is new to him (you’d understand if you saw where he grew up). Before, he might search for hours or even days for something. Now, he walks over to where something should be and finds it there or not. And no more buying an extra of something when there’s already five hiding somewhere in the house!


Meadowlark June 23, 2009 at 9:47 am

I don’t have any “collections” per se, I do have family stuff that’s made it to my place. But mostly on it’s way to our kids, in the “you’ve finally settled down” future.

I’m not a paragon of simplicity by any means, I just don’t have the collection bug. But if I did… it would be aprons. But those are useful, so how could THAT be a problem πŸ˜‰


Leah June 23, 2009 at 10:08 am

I am frugal and simple in many ways, but my biggest break from the general frugal & anti-consumerist group is my belief in personal libraries. I LOVE BOOKS. I love them, and more importantly–I have personal relationships with individual copies AND very frequently read small parts of books or look things up at a moments notice. Thus, I require ownership of my favorite tomes. And I have a lot of favorite tomes. I have four different copies of my favorite book of all time, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise. I have my first copy, and sexier hard cover copy, an edition with extensive editor’s notes, and a first edition from 1920 (a $400+ book which I paid $.50 for).
My partner and I have a total collection of 700+, which we do frequently organize and purge. The bottom line: I don’t believe you can have too many books.

What do I have too much of? Knick knacks. Action figures, candles, cool clocks that don’t work. Cool vintage storage containers that aren’t actually storing anything. Fabric scraps (maybe someday…). Dresses.

Life is a work in progress πŸ™‚


Kristen@The Frugal Girl June 23, 2009 at 10:24 am

I don’t really think there’s any one thing that I own too much of. Maybe children’s clothes? I have quite a few girls’ clothes in boxes because my older daughter’s clothes get handed down to her two younger sisters. I’ve gotten a lot better about keeping so many, though. I do laundry every day or every other day, so there’s no need to keep 15 pairs of pants in each size, you know? lol


Leah June 23, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Update: I am now purging my dresses! Thanks for the inspiration.
(The books remain hoarded, however)


Alea June 23, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Take LisaPie’s post and subtract the walruses and add vases. Oh, and I haven’t limited myself to antique cookbooks…

I didn’t mean to collect, it just happened. I haven’t added to any of my collections in 5 years and I have donated quite a bit, but I still have a long way to go.


Angela June 23, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Books are my downfall. I find it nearly impossible to get rid of a book, unless it’s one I didn’t like, or it’s nearly falling apart.

I just went through all my books, thinking I could weed out a few, and still ended up with only 9 I could let go of.

If we had the space, it wouldn’t really be a problem. But we don’t.


marzapan June 23, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I don’t collect anything but I still feel like I have WAY too much stuff in my house. Children’s books, toys and clothes, I guess. I have random shoes that were given as hand-me-downs laying around, but I can’t find both shoes so they can go to the thrift store. But I can’t throw them out… so there they remain.


Wendy June 23, 2009 at 5:38 pm

I have too many clothes. In fact, I had a wardrobe in each size (0-16). I have finally made peace with the fact that I will never be a size zero again, and consigned everything except my current size 12. It felt good letting go of the past (small & plus sz). However, I am with Leah & Angela regarding the books. I plan on keeping all the books that line the walls of my home. I have never outgrown any of my books.


Wendy June 23, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Regarding the clothes, I actually feel like I have more to wear now that I have cleared out all the crap. ItÒ€ℒs true, less is more.


Gena June 23, 2009 at 5:47 pm

I don’t have too much of a particular item, we just have the ‘junk boxes’ from TWO previous moves with us still, and we moved here over a year ago!


tam June 23, 2009 at 6:05 pm

For the first time in possibly, well, ever, I feel like my life is simple — and that’s because I’ve decluttered. I’ve donated/sold/thrown away so much stuff. Books, clothes, kitchenware, couches, CDs, a TV, shoes, stuff I inherited, stuff that was given to me…

Some of it was even my mother’s, who passed away several years ago. But you know what? I don’t miss any of it. I can barely even remember what I’ve gotten rid of, much less pined for it afterward. Like Tara, I was in a few hurricanes (Florida, 2004 and 2005). Stuff just doesn’t mean as much anymore. I know exactly what I need to pack up and put in the car when the big storm is approaching.

Check out this excellent site and celebrate “Discardia.”



frchgrl2 June 23, 2009 at 6:44 pm

I have been thrift store hunting for 30 yrs+. I am the youngest of 8 so my mother went to thrift stores a lot. I am just like you. I love nothing more than thrift store shopping. Luckily, ebay allows me an outlet to continue to do so. I once stopped doing ebay because it was draining but that also meant I had to stop going to thrift stores (because I ALWAYS find something). I became very depressed and just accepted that thrift stores make me happy. Therefore, I continue to ebay . I make decent money too. I totally hear you. I blog about my thrift life too here


Marianne June 23, 2009 at 7:08 pm

I am going to be moving in the next two months so i am going through each room and getting rid of whatever i don’t want to move! im being cutthroat and its sooooo liberating.


Evie Abat June 24, 2009 at 4:17 am

I have waaaay too much paper. That is the big thorn in my side. Saved articles for articles yet-unwritted, articles for research, etc. I am sure I can throw half this stuff away and be fine, but since I am in the middle of doing research…well, I’m terrified I might throw something away I don’t need…not that I know what is in the pile!

I could also say clothes. But I’m pretty good about “one in, one out”, and I’ve pared down my closet to pieces that I really love. Looks like I have a lot of love, though, but at least it’s considerably whittled down.


tammy June 24, 2009 at 6:00 am

Three BIG BOXES of Star Trek collectibles. *sigh*
When will they ever go away? Boyfriend refuses to part with them, citing something about retirement funding *sigh*
Love reading these comments.


Pat June 24, 2009 at 6:46 am

Gena, we moved into our current home 20 years ago and I finally got rid of the ‘junk’ boxes last summer. It was quite amazing to open them up to find all my pre-baby clothes in them. My teenage daughters thought they were a hoot! We kept all the silk shirts but the rest went to Goodwill, with the exception of a very nice linen suit which my oldest used on an interview recently. What surprised me most was that all these years I thought I was storing old pots & pans so finding clothes was weird. Where did those pans go to?


Jenn Baron June 24, 2009 at 7:37 am

Hello Ladies!

Over the years I’ve realized how much anxiety and stress my clutter has caused me and how much it “brought me down.” I started a Professional Organizing business last year because I want to help others declutter and live their ideal lives.

I don’t feel like I have too many of one thing. I practice Ghandi’s message of, “Live simply so that others may simply live.” That has made my life rich and full without having a house-full of stuff.

If you’re interested in learning a few of my “tricks and tips” you can go to my website and sign up for my bi-weekly and short e-newsletter. http://www.JennBaron.com I hope you don’t mind the plug Katy! πŸ™‚


Jean Farris June 24, 2009 at 9:50 am

I am so heartened by all the other people who feel so connected to their books. While I try to weed them out for our library’s semiannual book sale, then I go to the book sale and buy more! There is a comfort to me in being surrounded by these books that have entertained me, challenged me, enlightened me…there are favorite authors whose series I read again and again. I just cannot understand people who read and discard…I can only do this with books that I didn’t like. I have a bad case of book lust and I know it, but they will never be clutter or junk to me.


Tracy Balazy June 24, 2009 at 1:51 pm

I had collected 42 Melmac raffiaware cups, bowls, a pitcher, you name it, over the years. Remember the 1960s double-walled thermal plastic cups with the colored straw linings? Then I quit drinking out of plastic, so I sold them on eBay en masse, and it was a good feeling, and allowed me to clear at least one big box out of the basement!


lala2074 June 25, 2009 at 6:29 am

I have 2 areas of weakness:
clothing and books.

clothing- my size has varied over the last few years from a size 4 to a size 10.
so a i have a mountain of quality clothing in all sizes from 4 to 10. and because I believe I will be a size 4 again, I haven’t parted with it yet!

also books, there are some books that I read once, and then move on to friends or donate to the library, but books which really connect with me, I like to hold on to reread again in 12 months or so.


Meg from FruWiki June 25, 2009 at 10:06 am

Interesting to find so many book people! We still have a lot of books, but I’ve cut our collection down to probably a third or less of what it once was. And while I am still cutting here and there, I wouldn’t say that we have too many. I still have a lot of music books (the hardest to get rid of for me) and my husband and I still have a lot of computer reference books (for our work), but the rest of our books could fit on one standard bookcase. And most of those are reference, too.

I’m still very much a book person. I love to read. However, we are very blessed with a great library system here. So, it makes sense for me to sell a lot of my old books or just give them to the library. That way I have more room but still a near infinite supply of books that I can read. In fact, it seems the more books I get rid of, the more I actually read! And it feels good to take the old ones off the to-do list.

Of course, it may be different if we ever move out of the area — though we hope to stay here. I would miss our library system. But then I guess I would have to see about other options, even paying for books if I had to — though, goodness knows, there’s still plenty of free reading material online, too. But we’ll cross that bridge if we ever come to it, and I don’t think I’ll miss the books I got rid of because 1. I don’t reread books often and 2. if I hadn’t read them yet, I probably wasn’t going to.


WilliamB June 25, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I see a fundamental contradiction between getting rid of stuff and being frugal. How frugal is it, to have to buy a replacement for something you used to own?

My view assumes that you aren’t paying extra to store your stuff and that your stuff-collecting isn’t pathological. (Assume for the sake of this post that my collection of stuff isn’t pathological, OK? Work with me on this one.)

For example, I have a large collection of empty boxes, packing peanuts, bubble wrap, and acid-free tissue paper. I paid for almost none of it and most of it has been used at least once. It sits in Storeitania (one section of my attic), boxes arranged by size and the rest in boxes that are clearly labeled. I’m set if I need to box or wrap anything. So are most of my friends because I supply their needs. It’s frugal and it’s green.

I also have a double collection of many small kitchen items (such as measuring cups and garlic presses) because a friend gave me his. They’re in a labeled box in the attic. When my garlic press cracked, I didn’t have to buy a new (or new-to-me) one. I went to the attic and brought out the old one. Quick, frugal, green.

I reuse wrapping tissue, ribbons and decorative dodads which means I have a collection of wrapping tissue, ribbons and decorative dodads. I save department store suit bags to use when traveling or storing suits. I have all the extra suit and shirt buttons in a box.

It is true that if my house burned down there’s a lot of stuff I would not replace. But my house hasn’t burnt down and I’m unconvinced of the value of getting rid of perfectly good stuff that I may reasonably need and that I don’t have to pay to store.

Finally, I wish to state for the record that I do not consider my 2000+ books to be neither clutter nor excessive. Not even the science fiction paperbacks.


karen June 25, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Oh good– I’m not the only bibliophile out there πŸ™‚ Being married to a fellow book lover the problem is doubled. We call the bookcases our wall to wall winter insulation which unfortunately could also be called a fire trap. Actually, we are lovers of most all things paper as we tend to collect alot of art supplies as well….. and then there is the fabric collection that started a couple years ago … in addition to my husband’s obsession with vintage asian toys….. OY! Some of my best crafting fodder is found at thrift stores & garage sales which makes that habit hard to quit. It’s an ongoing process of binge & purge but alot of the excess gets shared with like minded friends/family as well as donated to various non profits. Books & art supplies get used so I dont feel as guilty as if it were knick knacks collecting dust. Isnt there a nice Latin word for genetic packrattedness?


Sierra June 25, 2009 at 7:58 pm

books, obviously. and baby stuff – almost none of which I have invited into my house, but I swear the stuff just grows like fungus in the kids’ room.

because I almost never buy anything, and have so much stuff, I feel very awkward selling the things I want to get rid of. I didn’t pay for it in the first place, so it feels weird to get money for it. Like I might upset my amazing freecycle karma if I took up yard sales as a hobby.


Lucia J June 28, 2009 at 8:55 pm

I feel much better about the abundance of books in my house. Recently I have been whittling down my collection and taking them to the used bookstore to trade and/or sell. It helps me finance my habit of book buying, and gives me a bit of spending money as well. I hope to make another trip at the end of the month with the last of what I’m getting rid of. Other than that, I, too, have too much kitchen stuff, mainly sets of dishes. I have inherited some and bought some over the years, and am running out of places to store them.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: