Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I was at the home of a friend recently and was amazed to see how many plates and glasses she owned. She is a single woman who doesn't tend to entertain at home much. Yet she must have enough plates for a 3-course meal for 50 people. Some of them were gifts, and some may have belonged to family, but still... that is a lot of plates, and she definitely spent money on some of them.
In my kitchen, I have 4 large plates, 4 small plates, and 4 bowls, all from the same set. Then I have about 4 other assorted plates that mostly live under some of my plants, and 3 or 4 bowls that I use in cooking. That is pretty much it. My friend kind of laughed at how minimal my set-up was. It's true that on the one occasion when I had family over and there were 5 of us at dinner, it was a bit of a pinch, but why would I go out and buy extra plates? What kind of emergency do I need to prepare for by owning extra plates? 99.9% of the time, my lifestyle just doesn't require extra plates.

I do understand the need to sometimes have "extras" of things, for no other reason than "just in case." My weakness in this area is PDAs-- I keep track of my entire life with a PDA and ever since the time I dropped my very first Palm Pilot, I've always owned two so I could easily switch over to the spare one if needed. And yeah, that is an expensive extra that cost me more than a set of plates!
What else: I have plenty of "extra" clothes that I don't often wear but keep anyway, because who knows, there might just be a day when all my other black t-shirts are dirty and I REALLY NEED to wear one! I have "extra" art supplies and notebooks that I'll probably never fill. I have extra towels-- enough to get me through at least a month without doing laundry-- but a lot of those were gifts from my mother. I have extra sheets and pillows, but probably need a few more, especially since I will soon have my sister and her family descending upon me for a visit. Otherwise, I try not to buy a lot of extra stuff unless there is a really good reason to stock up. Things can go bad and go to waste, or if you're storing too much, the clutter makes you forget what you have and you end up buying more, or having to spend more on rent in order to have a place to keep it all. Also, even if the effect is negligible, every extra bit of stuff you own represents fewer dollars that are earning interest in your bank account. I'd rather have the cash.

What kinds of extra stuff do you spend money on?


OptionedUnarmed said...

I have a tendency to buy duplicate outfits, if I find something that I really like. Typically I'll buy one of something, and then if I really like it, I'll wait for a sale and buy a couple extras.

By the way, I also tend to be minimal in terms of plates, etc. But I keep plastic plates and cups in the cupboard just in case I unexpectedly need to entertain an entire army. I also manage to get by with a single steak knife... When I host dinners, my guests just pass the steak knife around as necessary, no different than passing the salt or the butter or whatever. It is actually a nice, communal experience.

mapgirl said...

I try not to keep too much extra dishware. I was at Target and I bought one of the cheap glass sets ($10 bucks!) with 8 each of pints, old-fashioned and juice glasses. I keep three or four on my cupboard shelf and the rest in the closet. If I chip or break one, I always have spares!

I do buy lots of extra underpants (20-30) when I find one that I like. But I haven't been able to find anything good recently. Same goes for socks.

I keep a lot of washcloths now. I use them in the kitchen and bath. It really cuts down on papertowel use and the hoarding that comes with buying it in bulk. (I still live in my studio. LOL)

I do stock up on feminine products when they go on sale. I think I have enough to last me till the end of the year right now.

Other than that, I don't keep a lot of extra of anything.

NewbietoNYC said...

I hate to be a cliche single twentysomething woman in New York, but...lip gloss. I stock up on Kiehl's Lip Balm #1 so I can keep a tube in my desk at work, one on my nightstand, and one in my purse. At around five bucks a pop, they don't cause me that much remorse, but then there are the Cargo lip glosses at Sephora that call my name, and at $16-$20 apiece, that's a little harder to justify.

Ms. M&P said...

I live in a small space so I literally can't buy many extras. I do keep too many shoes, though. And books. Lord, my place is loaded with books. I don't even have anywhere to put them anymore. I'll have to sell or donate them soon. I've recently started using the library a lot more, which saves space AND money.

SavingDiva said...

I have a lot of extras...however, I am working on cutting down on the extras. I've donated a lot of my clothes to Goodwill...and I'm preparing another box. I'm also getting rid of a lot of little trinkets that I keep around...

Lotion--I buy too many body lotions.
Sheets--I don't like to do laundry, but I like to change my sheets every week.
Silverware--I didn't buy them. Roomates have left sets. I currently have 4 full sets of silverware (not anything nice either).

Anonymous said...

I spend money on clothes and school/art supplies. I do wonder though, what's the point of having money if it's not being used for anything else than accumulating more money in interest?

PiggyBankBlues said...

i like to go to places like marshall's or tj maxx in a nice suburb far away from nyc and buy only things i need. the problem is i buy too many of them because they're so cheap. so i think i need a photo frame, and i leave with three. i think i need some workout shorts and i leave with workout shorts and sweatpants. it's the bargain factor that makes me fall into this shop and hoard mentality.

Debbie said...

I have extra toilet paper, vitamins, baking supplies, canned goods that are on sale or hard to find, sneakers found on sale.

I have extras of my favorite books so I can lend them or give them away.

I have extra barrettes and other hair thingies in case I lose or misplace them. I like to keep my old glasses (keep one pair on me and the old ones in my car's glove box), but I lost my latest pair and am wearing my spare.

I have extra office supplies (scissors, pens, staplers) and facial tissue and trash cans so I can have some in several rooms. I really love that.

I also buy foam earplugs in bulk. I keep some in my purse for when music is too loud somewhere.

Like NewbietoNYC, I have lip balm in several places (purse, bathroom, headboard).

I'm finally getting rid of extra furniture I was keeping in case I broke up with my boyfriend or we moved to a bigger house. None of it's that great, and I'm getting better at bargain hunting, so I don't think replacing any of it will be that bad. Meanwhile, worst case scenario I'll be sleeping on a sleeping bag on a mattress pad over carpeting. That is very comfortable worst-case scenario!

My boyfriend keeps an extra car and extra lawn mower for parts.

I have some friends who refer to one of their cats as "spare cat."

Anonymous said...

The only extras I really have are things like towels (somehow I have a million towels), toothpaste, toothbrush (you can never have enough) and then fem. stuff.

I would like to get a NICE set of silverware. I have a lot of junk pieces that I need to consolidate.

I'm a minimalist like you. I have one set of dishes, random cooking stuff and always paper plates or cups in case people visit and want to eat.

Single Ma said...

*raising hand* Guilty as charged!

There are only two of us in the house and I probably own more wash cloths and towels than a family of 5. I use 2 new wash cloths and 1 bath towel EVERYDAY. I can not, will not, use the same one twice before washing it again. My daughter isn't as bad, but she changes often. I have an entire linen closet full plus an extra large box of them that I haven't unpacked.

Other extras that are must haves:

- Sheets, must change every week and rotate so they will last longer.

- Pillows, both of us have 4 on our beds (plus a body pillow) and I keep at least 4 for guests.

- Tooth brushes, can never have too many. Change every 2 months. Extras for guests - just in case.

- Toilet paper, would hate to EVER be caught without. LOL

- Feminine products, buy in bulk when on sale. Two women in the house who will need them for at least 15-25 yrs, can never have too much.

- Earring backs, always lose them, always need a spare during an emergency.

- Pantyhose, always need a backup (or two or three).

- Lip gloss. I switch purses often. Gotta make sure I always have one at reach. One in each purse, in the bathroom and the car. Love my M.A.C.!

- Shoes, no explanation.

- Martini glasses. I probably own 4 different sets of 4. All different shapes and designs. No reason, I just think they're preedy. Wanna come over for a drink? :-)

Anonymous said...

Bronx Chica...since pens carry germs, I always have 2 pens in every purse I use. My "extra" pens are in a draw. I have "extra" folders to put papers in. I replace all old folders every season or 6 months. I'm not the type to have alot of "extras" of anything else yet.

Fabulously Broke in the City said...

For me, extra clothes I don't need

Extra shoes I don't wear, same with accessories... and jewellery (I've been really good lately)

Extra folders, notebooks, pens...

And extra technology like external hard drives I keep collecting because my data collection keeps growing.

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Anonymous said...

I don't really like to have too much stuff around the house, but after reading this post I realized that I randomly buy extras of some items.

Ant traps - we have an ant issue at our home. So I keep extra bait traps around...just in case.

Dryer Sheets - there was some kind of sale that was really good so I stocked up and now I have enough to last me until the end of time.

Hair Accessories - I have long hair that I almost always pull up. So I keep a bunch of extra hair bands. You can pretty much find an extra hair band all around the house.

Lotion - my hands are always I have lotion everywhere: bathroom, bedroom, kitchen (after washing dishes), desk, car, purse. I know it's a bit ridiculous.

Shower Caps - I don't like reusable shower caps so I have tons of disposable ones.

Chocolate - my sister works for a high end chocolate company. She gets a lot of free boxes of chocolate and gives them to me. Yum.

School supplies - I buy my son extra paper, notebooks, etc. when they are on sale at the beginning of the year so right now we have enough to last the year.