Using the Good Stuff

One of my biggest problems is that I tend to save things for a later time.

I buy books and think I’ll save them for a rainy day, sick day, or vacation. I buy or am given “treat foods” and I never seem to find an occasion worthy of eating them. I buy movies or games and find myself waiting for the perfect time to watch or play them. I never use my wedding china because I’m waiting for the perfect occasion.

The problem is, as we all know, that the perfect moment almost never comes. As a result, some things around my house go unused. Then I find myself in a mad “use it up marathon” where I swear to do nothing but read, watch, play, and eat all of these things I’ve saved. In some cases (usually with food) I’m too late and it’s gone bad and has to be tossed. I hate this behavior in myself because it’s wasteful and ridiculous.

I end up wasting money on food that goes uneaten. It’s also a waste when I buy the hardback version of a book and then “save” it until the paperback comes out. I could have just waited and bought the paperback for less. The same thing happens with DVD’s and video games. I buy them because I really want them, but then I save them. Then they do on sale. I could have just waited until they dropped in price and bought them then. It’s frustrating, but I know I’m not alone. A few of my friends have this problem, too.

I don’t really know where this behavior comes from. My parents weren’t like this. When they bought something, they used it immediately. Somewhere along the line, though, I got it in my head that the good stuff needs to be saved for a more perfect day. Somehow I’ve confused savoring the good stuff with saving it. It’s like if I use it on a regular day I’ll somehow be cheapening the experience. The irony is that I’m cheapening the experience by not using this stuff. I’m letting it go to waste or letting it be forgotten on a shelf somewhere. And I’m cheating myself out of the joy of reading that book, using that china, drinking that wine, or eating that food.

The thing that really galls me about this behavior is that I know as well as anyone that tomorrow may not come at all, let alone any version of a perfect day. I may die without ever reading that book or seeing that movie. I may die without ever eating those special cookies, using that gorgeous china, or wearing that sweater. While this may seem like a shallow bucket list, it’s not something I want to confront on my deathbed. There will be enough left undone without adding in unread books, unwatched movies, uneaten cookies, and wine not drunk.

I’m trying to get better. When I find myself tempted to save something, I ask myself if there is an occasion for this item already on the calendar. Is there a dinner coming up that would be perfect for those cookies? Is there a long vacation coming up that will be a great time to read? If the answer is yes, I might save the item for that occasion. But if the answer is no or maybe, I try to go ahead and use the item as soon as I can.

I remind myself when I buy something that I have to use it immediately. If I don’t think I can or will do that, I try to leave it in the store. I can buy it later once the price has gone down or when I’m sure I’ll use it. Just being aware of my tendency to save things has helped immeasurably. I have to remind myself that life is to be lived, not saved for later. I’ve gotten better about this over the years, but I’m still not fully cured yet.

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2 Responses to Using the Good Stuff

  1. Joy says:

    I completely relate to this. I’ve definitely gotten better as the cure is to do just what you’re doing–use it and revel in the experience. Celebrate the moment, and the fact of the item. But yes, I’m fighting the urge all the time. I hate it when I hoard fruit! How nutty is that?

  2. Gail says:

    When I became disabled my whole attitude about life changed. I use what I have, I treat myself when I can afford it, etc. When you become chronically ill, you tend to learn to make the most of each day.

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