The Cost of Tossing That Item


When people ask me about ways to save money, I give them the usual answers. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need, look for the best deal on what you do need, be conscious of your spending, etc. But I also throw in one more simple piece of advice. Don’t throw stuff away that you know you’ll need again.

This may seem pretty obvious. Why throw away something that’s perfectly good, only to buy a new one next year or next month? Surely people don’t do that, right? Wrong. I know many people who buy needed items (and even unneeded items), use them once and then throw them away, only to repurchase the same item the next time they need one. I’d love to survey the


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14 Responses to The Cost of Tossing That Item

  1. Carolina Bound says:

    Another reason they do it — it’s easier than storing it. Dump it and forget it!

    I don’t think those people would ever visit this website, though.

  2. Karen says:

    This is a dilemma for me, because I live in a small apartment. I’m always wondering if I’m better off saving money by keeping something I use infrequently (but still need a couple of times a year), or saving space by getting rid of it. (I’ve tried asking friends with houses if I can borrow bulky items like a drill or shovel, but they’re always “too busy” with their kids and families for me to come by and pick it up.)

    So sometimes I end up tossing things to save space, and then rebuying them a year later when I realize I need them again – but I console myself by looking at the smaller amount I spend on housing, compared to what I’d pay for a house with more storage space.

  3. Traciatim says:

    Hey Karen, is it possible that renting a storage space would be cheaper than replacing items you throw out? Maybe you should call around, or ask someone with a shed or basement if you could arraneg to have a key and pay them a small fee to store things you need only a couple of times a year.

    I store my In-Laws Christmas gear in my basement since they have a smaller place. Then a few weeks before Christmas we start taking it back every time we go over. It works out pretty well.

  4. Crystal says:

    I have honestly never seen this, must be my area. Most of the people I know keep things that they plan to use “someday” which is usually 5 to 10 years down the road. My rule is, if I don’t use it once per year, then it gets tossed. Course the second part of this rule is don’t buy things that I only use less than once per year!

    The only replacement items I buy are for the things I break, use up, or wear out.

  5. Karen says:

    A storage space is one solution – I actually have one right now, because I decided I’d rather live closer to work (in a smaller apartment that was slightly cheaper) than further from work (in a larger apartment that cost more) and use the difference in cost to rent a storage space. But at $65 per month, or $780 per year, you can buy a lot of replacement items! I wouldn’t be spending the money if I hadn’t inherited some sentimental items from my parents that I don’t have room to store. I can replace a shovel or a drill, but not the homemade Christmas ornaments passed down from my grandparents.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have any family who could store these for me, and it’s difficult to depend on friends for this, when they’re super-busy with their own families.

  6. Karsten says:

    And you don’t even know how much good you do for the environment by not throwing things away but instead keeping them until you need them again.

    We live in a strange place at strange times where and when it is easier to throw stuff away and buy it again than not having it in the first place because you do not need it often enough to warrant the purchase.

    Is it a sign of decadence that buying-disposing-buying is acceptable and common? Is it decadent to throw away perfectly usable products? Is it decadent that we can buy things so cheaply that it is less expensive to throw them out than keeping them? Is it decadent to let society pay for your personal money saving habits? Are we that rich?

    At least, give away the stuff you do not need. Put it on websites for other people to see that it is available for free.

    Easy or Right – Your responsibility, your decision.

    Practical Advice to Pollute Less

  7. Shannon says:

    I’d love to go trash picking in your neighborhood!

  8. Kitty says:

    I do find that happens in my area at times, but not in my house as a I have enough storge space to keep things for myself and all the family keepsakes. I do store all the worktools for my son, as I do have the workshop at my place. The only downside is if my stuff goes to his place it can take years for me to get it back. :(

  9. Allsub says:

    This is one thing that drives me nuts, everywhere I look advisors are using a “conserviative” tax-deferred gain of something like 8%. Where can I find this guaranteed 8% gain?

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  12. Canadian says:

    I live in a one bedroom apartment with only one closet, so I am ruthless about purging unwanted items. I do not throw them away though; I donate them to thrift stores, offer them on Freecycle, etc. I don’t think I’ve yet had to repurchase something that I got rid of, but if I did I would certainly look for secondhand first. I just don’t want to live in a cluttered home, sorry. We do keep a few things at my in-laws’ place, but if it ever got to the point where I was renting a storage unit I think that means too much stuff.

  13. Savvy Frugality says:

    This is one of the reasons that you can often find great stuff while “dumpster diving”. I once found two perfectly good futon mattresses this way!

  14. Koppur says:

    My problem is this: I hate to throw things away because “what if I need it again? What if I regrent getting rid of it?” As a result I have way too much clutter. Now that we are moving to a smaller apartment, I have to get rid of about 1/2 the clutter I have. And while I am excited about the new place and excited about not having a cluttered messy place anymore, I’m also having trouble letting go of thing.

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