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Aug 8

Savers, Throwers & “I Need That!”

Posted on Monday, August 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

I am the grandson of a depression survivor.  My maternal grandfather Ray Brausam was frugal man.  I admire how he found ways to save money. 

One of the ways he saved money was finding uses for things other people discarded.  He sold cans and newspapers to recyclers to earn extra cash.   My dad later helped me to do the same thing.

By Nature I Am A “Saver”

I am no where near as frugal as my grandfather, nor as smart as my dad, but I did manage to take the saving strategy to an extreme in the wrong direction. 

Since I was a kid I have had a hard time getting rid of things.  I often can envision a use for things.  Re-purposing would be a good word for it.

For years I collected old computers.  I parted them out and when a need arose I rebuilt a computer to give away to those who could not afford one.  I installed a Linux operating system and taught them how to use their computer; for FREE! 

I loved doing it.  I took what someone no longer wanted, and gave it to someone else who did.

Bins filled with components lay stacked on shelves next to hollowed out computer shells in my storage closet.  I like saving them until they were needed.  My wife, in principle, liked the idea.  In practice Amy hated the stacked to the ceiling computers, especially when the closet overflowed.

I’m Married To A “Thrower”

As inclined as I am to collect, envision a potential use and then re-purpose when a need arises. Amy likes clean, neat and organized.  If there is no use likely in the near future Amy likes to recycle recyclables, give away valuables or throw away trash.

More than once, including this week, we have struggled to be on the same page.

Fortunately, Amy is patient, persistent and practical.  And, I am learning.  It’s a slow process.

I Have A Few Suggestions

I got rid of things this week.  It’s not easy for me, so here are a couple of suggestions.

First, examine your things, and ask yourself why it’s important to you. Ask yourself, “What would happen if I didn’t have this anymore?”  Often times, I believed that “you” — whoever you would be — would eventually ask me for ___ and if I didn’t have ___ it would be sad.

I am learning that seldom did people really want ___ as often as I thought.

Ask yourself:

– What bad things would happen or might happen?
– And how likely is it that any of that would really happen?
– And how could you plan ahead to avoid them?

I didn’t realize it, but I started to be controlled by fear.
I started to believe that “you” — again, whoever “you” might be — might reject me if I didn’t have ___.

Second, the more honest we are about these fears, the better.
–  Face the fear.
–  Trust people to not reject you if you don’t have ___.
–  Give yourself a little trial period.  Gather some of your things you might not miss.  Put them into a box.  If after a month or so you haven’t needed the items, extend the trial, and slowly in this manner you’ll find that ___ wasn’t that important at all.

After a few months I threw the box, and everything in it, away.

Third, if you need help my wife, Amy, is a professional declutterer. She’ll help you make sense of your mess without stress — big or small.  You can reach her at amyvolltrauer [at]

Amy would gladly help you strategize how you can feel more freedom and feel less fearful like she’s helped me and others like me.

Bring on the comments

  1. Hahhahaha, I think you and Aaron are twins and Amy and I are twins.

  2. If we’re gonna be Twins can I be Jim Thome?
    He’s my favorite!

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