This seems to be such a hot topic lately, so I thought I’d share my 2 cents worth of insights about those ever confusing “Just In Case” items, that we seem to love so much.
First off, just what do I mean about those Just In Case items? Well, they can be anything, actually. Maybe it’s something small, like an extra screw from the Ikea shelf we put together. We might need it someday. I mean it was useful just now, when we put that piece of furniture together, right? We may get another shelf that will be short a screw. Well, we’ll be ready for that!
Maybe it’s something larger, like a running car that we keep on hand, just in case we get stuck and have to get somewhere. It has happened. The car won’t start, so yeah, that back up car would be great.
Maybe it’s all of the unused craft items that we’ve collected; we will be ready, just in case we have to make a gift for someone. Why run out and buy something, when we can make it right at home?
If we have a house with a yard, maybe we’ve collected stockpiles of things to repair it with or handy tools that make yard work faster and more satisfying. Okay, so it’s a pain to clean the thing after we use it, and it’s buried way it the back of the shed, but we’re ready.
The thoughts behind keeping those extra things can seem sound. But are they? If we delve a bit more deeply, maybe things will look a little different.
Your grandparents and parents kept a lot of back up supplies. So many of us were taught to do this. Especially those relatives who grew up in Europe during the war, or went through the depression era. After having nothing for so long, it’s a natural response. You don’t want to be in caught without something necessary again. Stockpiling means if something happens, you will survive.
In some situations this is a good thing. If you live in a very rural setting where shopping is an hour away, and you only get there once a month, then it only makes sense to keep enough on hand to get you through to the next trip. But then this isn’t really a just in case thing, it’s more of a just enough thing.
Things are on sale for a great price, so let’s stock up! Again, this sounds sensible. And it is, if you are going use it up before the next sale date rolls around, or before it expires. But if it spoils or breaks before you use it, it isn’t a deal. If you never use it, it isn’t a deal. If you can’t do things in your house, because those 5 cases of toilet paper are in front of your work space, it probably isn’t a deal.
Buying things for projects you want to do, or are planning to do, because they are a good deal. This is a bad habit of mine. When I bought my home, 15 years ago, it was a fixer upper manufactured home. I knew there was a lot to do. But it was in an area I loved, and on three quarters of acre. For years now, I have had this running project list. I knew these would be mostly my projects to do. I’m the handy person in the family. Greg does the heavier muscle work, but I do the planning, the cost assessments and the detail stuff. On some projects I’ve done pretty well. On others, well, they’ve gotten done, albeit a little haphazardly. Truthfully though, that project list totally overwhelmed me most of the time. I moved a lot slower than I planned, partly because it depressed me to struggle through the list. Some projects have taken so long to finish that paint I’ve set aside has solidified, and the bargain wood has warped. Over the years, I’ve also lost parts to things I’ve been planning to use, so I had to buy more pieces to finish the project.
Another thing about project stuff is that they tend to feel like they are in transition. I find that because of that, I don’t give them a home. When they don’t have a home to live in, they get damaged, or don’t seem that valuable. Are they a great deal now? I don’t think so.
Keeping items because we might need them someday. Maybe we don’t even know when we would use them, or even what we would use them for, but we have this gut feeling that one day, some day, we will need them. What if we get rid of them now, and we need them later?
But is that really going to happen? I mean, I’m not psychic. I don’t even know what is going to happen tonight, let alone a few months down the road. Because of that, I’ve started asking myself some questions when I look at the “someday” items.
- If it’s a “tech” item, is it even going to be compatible with what I have, when I get around to needing it? Things are upgraded so fast these days, that there is a good chance it won’t be.
- Can someone else benefit from having it now? Most of the time, the answer is yes, and I let it go.
- Am I keeping this out of fear? Often my thoughts went to keeping this item, or buying this item now, because I might not be able to afford it in the future. I realized that I was operating out of a feeling of lack. I’m a believer that when you focus on something and give attention to it, it sort of magnifies it’s presence in your life, whether positive or negative. I’d rather fill my life with positive stuff, so I’m trying to let go of thinking about negatives that may not ever happen.
- Lastly, am I living in the now by keeping or buying this thing? When I think of holding on to something “Just In Case, “ it means that it’s not intended to serve me now. I don’t have a planned, clear use for it in a month or two, like I would have for a swimsuit or a winter coat. The items of clothing are things I need during the year. These other, what if things are, just that, a hazy gaze into the future. They are pulling me out of what is happening now. And now is really where I want to be.
As the years have gone on, I still love our little place, but I’ve gotten tired of having that one more thing to do. I really hate feeling like my project list is pulling me away from my today life.
This year, I committed to finishing my list and getting rid of the remaining project stuff. I have just a few more projects to do this month, then I am done. Actually done! I’m getting rid of the specialty tools. I’m getting rid of the extra wood. Those light fixtures that didn’t fit the house but have “value,” are going too. Anything that doesn’t fit what my life with Greg is now, is going.
I can feel that last little bit of heaviness leaving my mind and my heart. It’s really nice.
Anyway, this is just my take on the Just In Case stuff. I’m not saying my way is the best. Or that all the extras we have in our lives have no purpose. Maybe your stuff plays a different role in your life. Maybe it brings you joy, and you love knowing it’s there, ready and waiting for you. And if that’s where you are, I am in awe. I just could never get there.
But then again, our differences are what make life interesting and the world go round.
Until next time,