I used to be a natural packrat. I recently realized that my parents are packrats, too. I must have picked up this terrible habit by years of observation.
As a college student, I purchased too much stuff. I bought all sorts of supplies I didn’t really need at the time, hoping to use them in the future. I did all my shopping at large warehouse stores like Costco, where I could get the greatest value by purchasing in much greater quantity than I really needed.
Part of the problem is that I hate shopping. I consider it a waste of time, so I habitually overcompensate by purchasing more than necessary, with the hope that I can skip extra trips in the future. This strategy rarely worked; I often never used even half of what I bought. Binge shopping doesn’t save time because it’s hard to anticipate something you need in the future; all it does is add unnecessary clutter to your life.
Here are my biggest packrat mistakes:
My school stockpile: I bought 250 pens, 150 pencils, 15 erasers, 10 packs of white out, 10 rolls of scotch tape, 200 paperclips, 5000 sheets of ruled paper, and about 10 reams of white paper for the printer (about 50 lbs., 25kg). I could have stocked an entire office with these supplies. Sadly enough, I only used about 3 pencils and a dozen pens, so I ended up giving about 95% of it away.
My bathroom stockpile: Last year, I bought 50 bars of soap, 5 bottles of shampoo, 10 packs of toothpaste, and 7 bottles of dishwasher detergent. They’re still sitting in our closet. It may take us another year to finish it all.
My furniture stockpile: I picked up 2 extra tables and 3 chairs we didn’t need. We reasoned that the extra furniture would be useful for entertaining visitors, ignoring the fact that we rarely had guests over.
My parents also helped stockpile: They gave us a sofa, a bookshelf, a king-sized mattress, dozens of new clothes, a new computer, two printers, and two LCD monitors.
When we first moved into our apartment two years ago, it seemed enormous for just two people. Measuring 600 sq. ft., it was triple the size of the college dorms we were accustomed to. It was so spacious we could dance in the living room. Soon enough, however, we started to feel cramped because of the abundance of our unnecessary possessions.
About five months ago, I discovered Greenimalist living. It’s a way of living that emphasizes reducing your possessions to reduce your environmental impact while simplifying your life and saving you money. The key is to get by with exactly what you need and absolutely no more. In exchange for selling almost everything, we gained a form of simplicity that no possession could ever offer.
Are you a packrat? What was your worst purchasing mistake?