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Why is it so hard to not throw our money in the garbage?

Because it’s hard to commit to Use what you have. In order to use what you have, you have to be able to keep track of it, access it, and have up-to-date things you like and are willing to use.

There are infinite ways to LOSE YOUR MONEY, especially in your own home. Take the simple example of a quart of yogurt: Let’s say it costs $4.69 retail. So each ounce costs .15. ($4.69/32). If you use every bit of the quart, you will get all $4.69’s worth, right? But wait! How did the yogurt get into your house?

Unless Santa brought it, that inexpensive yogurt actually cost you much more than $4.69:

  • You had to buy gas (and a car) and drive to the store to get it
  • You had to pay for internet and spend time ordering it
  • You had to (marry and) raise children so they could someday gift you yogurt…

Whatever the item, and however you got it, it cost you more than what’s printed on the price tag. So that inexpensive yogurt (or shirt or bookcase) could really cost more like $100/ounce (depending how you count). And that’s life, right? Things cost more than meets the eye.

But then this funny thing happens. After all we went through on double coupon Tuesday to wait in line and get just the thing (to save money from eating out?)…

We throw the yogurt away.


Here’s an exerpt about USA food waste: Of course, we are likely to waste some foods more than others. According to USDA, the top three food groups lost in 2010 were dairy products (25 billion pounds, or 19 percent of all the lost food); vegetables (25 billion pounds, or 19 percent); and grain products (18.5 billion pounds, or 14 percent).”[1]

Why, why, why do we throw so much away? Food and clothes and, you name it, relationships. It’s usually not because we don’t like them. It’s because we’re confused and overwhelmed, and we lost track of why we bought it…or maybe even what’s in the back of the fridge. We live in an ADD culture that encourages us to “Get rid of it,” and “Stock up” at the same time.

The danger of “Getting rid of it” is that it’s like cutting off your arm. It doesn’t solve the underlying problem of how you got there in the first place. It’s a little easier to buy yogurt than to grow an arm, but they both take work. And throwing them in the garbage because there’s a problem or because you’re not sure where it is until it’s too late undermines your decisions. And this sets you up for self-doubt, which makes it harder and harder to feel in control. Believe it or not, you can start to trust yourself and save $$ little by little at the same time:

The next time there’s threat of a Snowpacalypse, (or simply today) take stock. Clean your fridge and pantry. Assess what you truly need, and for the rest… become a “user”…of what you already have. You’ll be amazed at your abundance.

[1] Barclay, Eliza: U.S. lets 141 trillion calories of food go to waste each year (February 27, 2014)

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