Spend Out


When I read The Happiness Project, one thing that stayed with me most was the part where Gretchen Rubin talks about “spending out”. She confesses to having a hard time using brand new things for the first time (not wanting to ruin their “pristine glory”) and tells a personal story about a bottle of perfume that sat on her grandmother’s dresser for as long as she remembered. The bottle was full when her grandmother died, most likely because her grandmother was saving it for a special occasion.

I’m a total saver. In some ways, it’s a good thing. My savings paid for our wedding and the down payment on our apartment. But in many other ways, my saving is just crazy. I save my “good outfits” (just in case some fun, unexpected plans come up) instead of wearing them to work or to run errands. I save gift cards for the perfect purchase. (We still have three gift cards from our wedding almost seven years ago.) I save the snacks I bring home from Japan. I save the “good” pens for the “right” use, as if I don’t deserve to enjoy writing out my to-do list. I save the good stationery for special occasions (which, for the record, never happen). I save scrapbook supplies because I never think I’m good enough or creative enough to use them the “right” way. I save good art in the closet because I’m afraid to mess up where/how I hang it. I save (as pictured above) fancy paper for juuuust the right project. (Full disclosure: this is just a small portion of my paper collection…the rest is in bins in the closet. Shall I take a break while you call the Hoarders people now?)

I don’t think I’m alone in my saving (hoarding). I often hear to other crafters lament that it’s hard use up their “best” supplies. I know other letter-writing lovers who talk about “hoarding” their vintage postage. I know people who have a hard time making the first pen mark in a brand new journal. I have a set of teacups that my mother received as a wedding gift that sat in its original box in her attic for thirty-nine years before she gave them to me. (A year later, I have yet to use these teacups.)

One of my goals for 2013 (and beyond) is to spend out–to use up or wear out everything I’ve been hoarding. I am going to break out the new dishcloths that my mom gave us for Christmas in 2011. (See how crazy I am?) I am going to use up my fancy papers, even if it means dreaming up reasons to use them. I am going to spend the gift card stash and wear the good clothes until they cannot be worn anymore. I am going to hang up all the art, even if it means patching a few mistakes in the walls. I am going to crack open the journal I made five years ago and fill it up with messy handwriting. I am going to use up ALL of my stationery (I’ve actually been doing well using up this lovely stuff Naoto bought me!) I am going to fearlessly use my typewriter, knowing I can easily buy more ribbon for it, and use my vintage Dymo label-maker knowing I can buy more tape for it. And…I’m going to use up my washi tape–which is by far my most-hoarded supply. I don’t want my craft stash to become the perfume bottle of my existence.

Are you a saver? Is there something you would like to use up this year? Are you a spender? Any words of wisdom for the savers?

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27 thoughts on “Spend Out

  1. naoto says:

    So true! This is precisely why I have had hard time using my brandnew Tiger rice cooker…

  2. cath says:

    I’m not sure I am a saver although there can be items in my closet waiting for me to wear them at the right occasion. Yet things that make me happy, like beautiful paper related stuff, I often keep a while (or longer) just to look at it and feel happy. That can happen with books too by the way.

  3. Donovan says:

    Take note about those gift cards. A lot of them loose money over time if you don’t use them.
    I am always fighting this fight. I am always trying to use everything. It certainly helps if you swear not to buy ANYTHING new until you use all of the other up. I haven’t bought fancy paper in YEARS because I’m still working through my hoard AND because I am not above diving into a trash can.

    • kimberly ah says:

      Thankfully, the ones that we’ve saved are the “never expire” ones…which is just a crutch for me to hang onto them! I SHOULD make myself not buy anything, but working around it (and having enabler coworkers!) makes it so hard! (I have no willpower!)

  4. uncustomary says:

    This was a section of The Happiness Project that really resonated with me as well. My whole life I’ve had a problem with saving things for special occasions. I feel like I’ve broken that barrier with street art. For some reason, now it’s okay to use my special things for people I’ve never met as an artful gesture. I can tell you that using what you have is an awesome feeling. Work at it!!

  5. Alex says:

    I finally finished reading the happiness project and I am here with you. That’s why I started project life to use all my pretty paper and thats why I am trying to use up all my yarn. It’s tough but heck why wait!

    • kimberly ah says:

      Yay! I’m annoyed at myself for buying the PL kit (the Seafoam was so tempting though!) because you CAN use so much of your own stuff (and just use the PL pockets). I can’t wait to see your PL–I’m deciding if I’ll share on the blog or just Instagram…

  6. […] I started the unplanned project of organizing my desk drawers. (This led to the opening of the paper storage trunk and several other cans of worms.) Between the two desks there are four (large, but shallow) […]

  7. […] sometimes I don’t feel like decorating an envelope). Letter Month is a perfect way for me to spend out some of my stationery stash, too! I’ll be posting my daily mailings on Instagram […]

  8. […] As depressing as the Great Clean Out has been, it’s also like a mini surprise party! I’ve unearthed some amazing things that I’d forgotten about like letters from old college friends and my old work notebook, filled with haikus that I’d written during meetings. (I was a diligent employee.) I’m glad I’m taking the time to find a good home for these little treasures of my past. And, I’m glad that I’ll soon be able to see all the craft stuff so I can use it up and spend it out. […]

  9. […] I was sifting through my ephemera stash, I was thinking about my 2013 goal to spend out. While I’ve done a very good job wearing out my clothes, using up my stationery and scrapbook […]

  10. juliamonroe says:

    What a great post! I can identify so much with this. It took me years till I could afford jewelry supplies. So over a couple years, I built up an impressive collection of gorgeous beads. But I have used very little of that beautiful stash, because I’m afraid of getting to the end and having none all over again. I’m working at making my “joy of using and giving away” greater than my “fear of none”. I love your blog, by the way. I sent the link to my daughter in Tokyo and now we both follow you. We’re foodies and love stationary and all things paper so your blog is such a treat. Thanks for this post!

    • kimberly ah says:

      Thanks so much for your sweet comment Julia! It’s so much easier to talk about spending out rather than doing it…I’m still working at letting go of things, I think it will be a goal I continue to work on in 2014.

      I’d love to hear about your daughter’s experience in Tokyo! It’s such a different culture and I find something new to marvel every time I visit!


  11. […] I am happy to report that my Thanksgiving invitations are done and in the mail! Seriously, where is this month going? At one point I felt crazy for starting to think about these invites so early, then they barely made it into the mail in time.They aren’t super complicated, but I had a lot of fun putting the mini collages together. Everything on the invite is vintage except the little strip of washi. I needed another metallic element to complement the gold seal. Once I saw the old BINGO cards in my stash, I knew I wanted them to be the base. I love the yellowed paper and the graphic numbers as a background. And of course I had to use my typewriter since tags don’t feed into my (non-existent) printer. I typed out my message and played around with the placement of the vintage postage stamps and gold seals (from a Saturday Morning Vintage Thanksgiving paper pack and fall ephemera bundle) . I pasted everything on with my favorite glue stick because, as I learned at the Halloween Mail Art Workshop, glue sticks work best with delicate vintage papers. The invitation above is the one I sent my parents. The maroon stamp on the bottom (with the gold star) is in honor of railroad workers. My maternal grandpa worked on the railroads, so I think my mom will appreciate that little detail. I had the fig-colored envelopes in A2, which was 1/8 inch too small…so I had to go out and buy some roomy A6 fig envelopes. I made another collage on the front of the envelope with papers from from my ephemera packs (the leaf is a playing card!), some MT washi tape, an old gold border label and a new sticker (Paper Source). I lined my envelopes with marbled paper from Blick. I love this paper. It had a gorgeous mix of maroons, greens, golds and silvers…so dreamy. (And it was in my paper stash ready to be spent out!) […]

  12. […] *Spend Out: continuing from 2013 […]

  13. Rebecca says:

    Oh my gosh! I’ve written about this exact thing before! I buy supplies and save them for the “perfect” project. I have so many amazing craft supplies sitting around just begging to be used. You’ve given me the push I need to get on it!

    • kimberly ah says:

      I failed miserably at spending out last year, but I have a strategy this year (that I’ll try and hopefully blog about). The saddest part is when you grow bored with something that excited you in the first place because you were waiting for the “just right” project to use it in.

  14. […] addition to sending one letter every day throughout the month, my other goals are to spend out some more of my paper/stationery/washi tape stashes, to be more creative with the ol’ mail […]

  15. […] cards for my cat-fan friends. Each one ended up being a little bit different because I was spending out some Valentine papers from yesteryear. I started with a good pun–You’re the cat’s […]

  16. […] the sendees from tearing open the aerogram like an envelope.  I had so much fun making these and spending out some of my paper hoard. I’m thrilled that I found my letter writing mojo […]

  17. […] I had wild dreams of making all my postcards, but I think I will lower the bar for myself and just try to send thirty-one cards to thirty-one different people. I have a lot of postcards from Japan, from Oak Park, from sets I’ve bought over the years and this will be a good time to spend out. […]

  18. […] one letter a day for every day in February, respond to each letter I receive in a timely manner, spend out my stationery, sticker and vintage paper stashes, and to visit my neighborhood blue boxes as often […]

  19. […] usual, spend out my stationery and paper […]

  20. […] notebooks! And vintage postage stamps!So…as always, I’m going to continue working on spending out. And I’m going to work on sending more postcards and small notes. So far this month, […]

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