Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hoarding is a losing proposition

I'm a hoarder. I like having that sense of backup. I never use all my vacation because I like the idea of having a buffer in case of an emergency or spontaneous trip. If I have some scent I really like in a shampoo or lotion, I sparingly use it, hoping to make it last. I end up with all these half-used bottles strew about my bathroom. I am sitting on over 200,000 airline miles because if I find a cheaper airfare, I'd rather use that than spend the miles.

This week, however, I discovered that my hoarding habits just cost me. On another airline that I haven't flown in three years, I was dismayed to learn that my almost 40,000 miles expired two days ago. Doh! Even more tragic, I will be flying on that airline tomorrow. ARGHHHH!

I really did try to use the miles for a free ticket. However, in each situation either the fares were cheaper than redeeming the miles (the breakpoint is around 1.5 cents per mile for me) or I was traveling with others and ended up flying a different airline (again, for price).

My mother used to build up an insane amount of supplies at home. As a kid I remember having a cabinet full of toothpaste tubes, bottle of shampoo and lotion, Kleenex, and other notions. This was before the days of CostCo so I'm pretty sure it was all purchased on sale and with coupons.

At some point when I was a teenager, I think my mom realized that we had too much stuff. She stopped buying and we began trying to use things up. Unfortunately, the lotions weren't meant to sit on the shelves for that many years. Upon opening a "new" bottle of Vaseline lotion, I remember wondering if the formula had been changed. The lotion was very watery, not creamy like my bottle of Jergens. I checked another bottle to find the same consistency. Later, my mom commented about how she thought all the lotions had gone bad. From that experience, I don't do the same. I never have more than one extra bottle of anything around. The only thing I have multiples of is lip balm, but only because they get misplaced so easily. Thankfully, I don't have or rent any storage outside of my own place (unless you count a couple boxes at my parents' house).

It seems I still have things I need to stop hoarding. I've been working on using up the various bathroom toiletries. Part of the issue is that I hate wasting hotel supplies. If I've opened a bottle of shampoo, I take it home and use it up. The whole idea of all those detergents being thrown away every day in thousands of hotel room is very wasteful and bad for the environment. I no longer take home the ones that sit unopened on the bathroom counter (unless I *really* like the brand).

It's such a bummer that I lost a ticket. I was hoping to get up to 50,000 miles so that I could give my parents a set of roundtrip tickets for a vacation. I can still do that with my other airline miles. I'm just feeling stupid about losing some that I've had three years to use. :( Live and learn!


Anonymous said...

That is hilarious! My grandmother was exactly the same way with toiletries! Anything on sale was bought and hoarded in the house! You would not believe how much toilet paper this woman has in her house..oh wait...maybe you would!

Anonymous said...

oh my god, i do the EXACT same thing. In my bathroom, I have a whole drawer of half-empty hotel shampoo/conditioner/lotion bottles because I didn't want them to be thrown away. But of course, I never actually get around to using them, so they sit in the drawer. I do the same with random free samples of beauty products, etc., and I've definitely gone back to use stuff and found that they've gone bad.

As for the airline miles, funny thing is that the week before Christmas, I was told that my miles on one airline would expire if I didn't use them. So, instead of buying a ticket, I used ~200 miles to get a magazine subscription. And the rest continue to sit there, because honestly, when a ticket is only $200, I'm not going to use miles for it!

I've never thought of it as hoarding, but you're absolutely right!!

Anonymous said...

I used to be a hoarder, too, but then in the last couple of years, I've become better at letting go of things and thinking more along the lines of, "Enjoy this now because I need to believe something good will come around again and that I can savour the moment here and now instead of putting it off."