Forty or four – abundance or scarcity?

A friend of mine estimates that she has forty towels and washcloths in rotation. I have six (plus a few that are in the basement on standby duty for clean-up jobs).

A former roommate has enough underwear that she could go for 3 months or so without washing.  Another friend I saw just last week mentioned that she hates doing laundry and has at least a 2-month supply of lingerie.  Ewwwh!  I haven’t counted my underwear but believe I could make it for 2-3 weeks although I wash my clothes every week faithfully.  Yet another friend has 2 storage units, 3 bedrooms, and a house brimming to overflow (she’s rapidly approaching hoarding).  She lives alone; her children are long grown.

It’s not that I’m especially virtuous.  I just don’t like piles.  Piles overwhelm and defeat me.  Doing laundry once-a-week helps keep me from feeling defeated…by laundry at least.  (There are so many things I can’t control that I’m trying to control what I can.)

My daughter has legions of glasses.  She has kids…they go through glasses.  But if she had fewer glasses, there’d be fewer to wash.  (She also had quite a collection before the kids came.)

What are the pros and cons of abundance vs. having enough? I was going to say scarcity but it really isn’t that.  Having just enough means that you are forced encouraged to stay on top of things because there won’t be a clean towel or glass or bra if you don’t manage things efficiently.  Having just enough forces you to tend to your resources carefully.

I don’t know what the characteristic was that started the stockpiling behavior among my friends:

  • Was it laziness?

  • Was if having the resources to keep buying more?

  • Was it an affinity for/addiction to shopping? (The aforementioned friends all are confirmed shoppers). 


While I enjoy shopping, I have always limited it even when I had more resources.  After two stores, I’m done and have been known to sit in the mall or car with a book and read while waiting for my companions to finish their shopping frenzy.  (I grew up being forced each weekend on day-long trips to many stores, uncomfortably squeezed in the backseat of the car with siblings and cousins.) 


I have gotten more and more tired of stuff.  It is so easy to accumulate.  Every year I manage to have stuff to donate to thrift stores despite trying not to accumulate. I want to be discriminating and find the right stuff as well as minimize new stuff so I don’t contribute more than is absolutely unavoidable to landfills.


My current shopping style is to meander through one store I love, checking out the various sections, piling everything I want into my cart and then putting mostly everything back except the things I feel I need, the things I collect (red stuff for my kitchen, costume rings), and that the budget allows. (No shopping for you!)  I have been known to go on a shopping trip with a friend and not buy one single thing (though I try not to go window shopping because it hurts my feelings when I can’t buy something) and I always see something when the money is tight.

Forty or four?  Which is right for you?


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About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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