Tossing “Things That Must Not Be Thrown Away”

The FP family has a big move coming up–Pennsylvania to the Denver area, or about 1700 miles. Since we have very little cash at the moment, it’s especially important that we keep the cost way, way down. And that means as small a load as possible.

We have actually moved several times, so you would think that we had already reduced our possessions to the minimum. Not so. Sure, we thought we had, but subconsciously we (OK, especially I) had been following certain rules about Things That Must Not Be Thrown Away. I hauled around the TTMNBTA from one home to another, tucked in the back of a closet. But did I really need them? The amount of stuff you own affects not only how much it costs to move, but how large a home you think you need. This time, I was ready to tackle the TTMNBTA.

Box of photos and negatives.

No one is ever going to want to look at these reject photos.

First on the TTMNBTA list was photographs, two shoeboxes full of them. Now, I keep scrapbooks, and have done so since my senior year in high school. So any photos from the last seventeen years are, by definition, photos that were not good enough for the scrapbook; a few are duplicates. The older photos were mostly—in duplicate prints made from disposable cameras—pictures of people with whom I went to various camps, all but two of whom I have entirely lost touch with and most of whose names I no longer remember. I kept one or two photos from each event. The rest—trash. And the negatives. I remember holding negatives up to the light to find a picture I wanted to make a copy of, but those days are gone.

Pile of decorative bound journals.

This isn’t even all of them. I found two more in my closet, plus two blank ones I’d gotten as gifts.

Next up, journals. Surely those are a TTMNBTA? I was one of those angsty girls who was never out of reach of a blank book. I filled volume after volume with… nothing of any value. Seriously, even I don’t want to read about my tenth grade crush or ill-advised freshman year dalliance, certainly not in the excruciating and embarrassing detail in which I recorded them. The entire stack goes in the recycling bin.

More: three binders of school papers, comb-bound yearbooks from the aforementioned camps, a middle school yearbook, the stack of cards I received at every major event from my high school graduation to the first birthday of my second child, postcards from friends’ vacations, three more binders full of truly dreadful fiction and poetry written before I had achieved my second decade. I kept a few representative items from each category.

As I started kicking around ideas in my head for this blog post, I realized there was something else I needed to add to this list: my very last American Girl doll. I was into dolls in a big way. Besides the first four American Girls (from back when they were cool, before they were Mattel), I once possessed perhaps a dozen other dolls, many of them named Laura after the Little House heroine (blonde dolls were Mary, after her sister). Most went out at a yard sale in 2009. I gave Molly to my much younger sister-in-law. Felicity to my niece.  Last Christmas, a Facebook friend was griping about the excessive prices people charge for used AGs, so I gave her a very good deal on Kirsten.

There was one left. I thought I needed to keep this one last one as a memento of something that was once soooo important to me, and I fought Mr. FP tooth and nail when he wondered why a grown woman, the mother of sons, needed a doll. Not open for discussion, I told him. But really, can I justify letting it take up space in my home? Having it add, however infinitesimally, to the cost of our move? Nope. Casually mentioned to a neighbor with a five-year-old that I was planning to unload Samantha, and she couldn’t write me a check for $50 fast enough. (Mr. FP was shocked. Had he known that used dolls were worth that much, he would have argued much harder!) Not only do I not need the doll, I kinda do need the money, and now the kid will have a nice birthday present.

So far, I feel much lighter and pretty proud of myself for making room, and I can’t wait to tackle my clothes! Have you let go of things you thought you would keep forever? Any regrets?

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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

7 responses to “Tossing “Things That Must Not Be Thrown Away””

  1. Kath says :

    HI FP, I just found your blog. I really enjoy it. Keep writing! I was wondering what your opinion is of Leapforce. Thanks.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Welcome, Kath! I still love Leapforce. Here is where I explain my opinion in great detail. You can comment on that page–or find me in the Mr Money Mustache forums and PM me there–if you have any comments after reading and I will be happy to answer them.

  2. Rachael says :

    My mum asked me the other day if I wanted the wooden rods that we used when I was a kid in my first years of school; they were used to help children learn to add and subtract. I never had a particular attachment to them then and I certainly don’t forty odd years later. My dad kept the wheelchairs that my grandma used before she died…thirty years ago, just in case he needed them.
    He’s still walking about on his own.

    Get rid of the stuff. It doesn’t negate the good memories of a life well lived, and your children will thank you when they learn that unnecessary stuff isn’t important to a good life. And also when they don’t have to wade through fifty years of meaningless accumulation like I’ll have to do one day.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Yeah, ever time I ask myself, “Should I save this?” I ask myself, “If my mother had saved this for me, would I want it?” So I kept, for instance, one tiny newborn outfit for each of them, and the first hat that my mother knitted each one. But I tossed their hospital-issue hats, my ID bracelets, and 99.8 percent of their artwork output so far, etc.

      • Rachael says :

        That’s a good question to ask! I think I’ll implement that one.

        And oh! The artwork! Some of the ‘works on paper’ are okay for wrapping presents to people, but I agree, toss the 99.8 percent and keep the really special things. That might be one per year, maybe.

  3. The Pinay Mom says :

    Hi! I found your blog through The Frugal Girl.
    I know what it feels like to move, we moved to this house almost four years ago which is only 2 miles away and we didn’t toss anything and hence we’re loaded with all stuffs from old house but this summer we’re holding a garage sale. At first it was hard to let go things but I do the same thing, I choose which one is to be tossed and what to be kept. I feel better that we’re letting go of some stuffs,much lighter.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Thanks for popping over! I love the FG. Long-distance moves are definitely more motivating for paring down because the expense is to much greater. Glad you are making progress! Hope the garage sale is a success. We had one years ago and it was a rainy day in December, but we still did pretty well!

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