Spend Out–Stationery, Fancy Ingredients, Perfume, Etc.

2011 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2011 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year — and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge — welcome! This month’s theme is Possessions, and last week’s resolution was to Read the manual. Did you try that resolution? Did it boost your happiness?

I don’t usually post two videos in one week, but somehow last week’s video was delayed a week, so here’s the fourth video for the month!

This week’s resolution is to Spend out.

Spend out. MP3 for Audio Podcasting

What about you? Do you ever find yourself “saving” things instead of putting them to use? What kinds of things do you save? I’ve even caught myself “saving” tin trays that my mother gave me. Why do I do this?

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
What it means to “spend out” and why it’s a good idea.
How money made me happy. It only took $12.
In which holiday decorating reminds me of several happiness lessons.

If you’re new, here’s information on the 2011 Happiness Challenge. It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For the Challenge, each week I’ll post a video suggesting a resolution for you to consider. For more ideas for resolutions to try, check out the archives of videos here.

* I love the Six Word Memoirs on Smith, and especially the Six Words on the Secrets to Happiness. Brand new: Six Words about Work. So much fun to write and read — and you might win an iPad2 or a BlackBerry PlayBook.

* Check out my companion website, the Happiness Project Toolboxeight free tools to help you launch and track your own happiness project. Plus you can see what other people are doing, which is fascinating.

  • Alina Tomi

     I will definitely do that since I now realize I tend to keep saving things for “later” and I don’t want that “later” to never come one day… Thank you, Gretchen!

  • Peninith1

    When I was a kid, some of my most treasured dresses were ones that I did not get to wear very often, since I had to save them ‘for good’, and outgrew them before wearing them as much as I would have liked! And this was so even though my own mother regretted this pattern from her own childhood. I love this post because it’s true that I STILL need to remind myself not to ‘save up’ pleasing experiences for a special occasion or for later. I find your souvenir of your grandmother so very touching–and poignant. I’m going to be looking for ways to ‘spend out’ really hard these coming weeks!

  • I always saved money which my parents used to give as a pocket money and now i feel that i should have spend that and felt happy to have things at that age. Thanks for the great post and video.

  • This resolution really resonates with me. Often I find myself buying replacements for things just so I can feel comfortable using the original – like I always need to have a backup. I should definitely stop doing this! Good reminder.

    • Ophelia

      As a sewist, I horde fabric. Sometimes, there’s something I love so much that I have to buy it twice before I can cut into my first piece. I know that’s crazy, but it’s harmless, as long as it’s the exception rather than the rule, and as long as my fabric piles aren’t so out of control that I can’t use my space as it was intended. 

      • Siggi in Maine

        I do it with art materials…and if the paper I buy is gorgeous, I buy two, “to have a spare” of course.  Sigh.

    • Siggi in Maine

      Been there, am there,  Resolution:  STOP IT !  Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone in this quirky behavior☺.

  • Crawfordclan

    I often knit cotton dishclothes and give them away as gifts….my personal ones have been getting rattier and rattier…I just got out a new one for myself…had to get it wet so I wouldn’t “take it back” and put it back in the gift basket…thanks for the reminder that I’m worth “spending out.”

  • Maxi

    When my mother passed away we found so many special things that she never used – even ancient canned food that she had deemed  too special to just be eaten in the ordinary course of events (like white asparagus!). 

    She had an expression she would use about why she was saving it, “Oh its too good for me,”  as if only saving them  for company would justify their use.
    So we tossed the cans and felt sad about the virginal state of so many “too good” place mats, table, silver, china, etc. 

    I try now to use these things of hers myself as often as I can, enjoy my own special things regularly and remind myself they are NOT too good for me. And it is a total waste NOT to use  these things as they were intended.

    But this post reminded me I still have the tendency to save my nicer or newer clothes  for special occasions…well there aren’t ‘t that many special occasions and how special does it have to be to wear a new tee shirt or sandals? I’m going to put them on today!

  • Al Pittampalli

    I keep a list of great stories that I’ve accumulated, that I’m supposed to use in speeches and writing, but I’m saving them for the perfect occasion. What a silly concept, what perfect occasion? I should spend them. Thanks.

  • Dsb805

    We’re on the same wavelength!  I was eyeballing my Fibber McGee closet yesterday & wondering out loud, “Why am I saving all these beautiful gift bags and ribbon?  There must be ways I can put them to creative use.”    Spend out.  Spread the wealth creatively and increase happiness!   :))

  • Absolutely the best one from you yet!  And that is saying a lot!  This really hits home with me (she says as she peruses a house full to overflowing with little nothings everywhere.)  I even find myself pushing my dog away when he wants noticed and saying, “later, I’ll have time to pet you later”, when clearly it gives both of us much joy.

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear it resonates with you!

  • I love this idea of spending out. I have a whole basket of soaps I’ve been saving in my pantry. But why? I’m going to open them up and place them in the soap dish, maybe even put multiple soaps in a single dish. Ah, such extravagance!

  • Sarahhp

    This reminds me of a really beautiful pair of shoes I bought for a friends wedding.  I was storing them away for another special ocassion when I had a little revelation why shouldn’t I wear these in my office?  I now regularly use my fancy shoes and it gives me a little lift each time I wear them (they brighten up a plain outfit).  They now need to be re-heeled but it’s so much better than them being hidden away unseen. 

  • Catsie

    Back in the day starting out as a junior office worker, I fell in love with a perfume, ‘Sikkim’ by Givenchy.   I wanted it, wanted it, wanted it.  A two-point-something ounce cologne bottle was $26 — in those days a FORTUNE.   Still, I saved my shekels and the happy day came when I bellied up to the perfume counter at Woodward & Lothrup and bought me one.  I still remember the soaring glee — mixed with a little guilt that popped in unexpectedly.   (The shade of some Puritan ancestor shaking his finger at me from the grave?  You will BURN!)

    Anyway, I resolved to save it and use it only for special occasions.   It lived in my medicine cabinet, on the top shelf, somewhat out of line of sight.  I used it perhaps three times in the next months.   One evening I was gussying up for a night on the town, a perfect occasion to Sikkim my gorgeous self if ever there was one.  I reached for the bottle — and it had evaporated.


    I never again saved a consumable for some unknowable future occasion.  

    (‘Sikkim’ disappeared shortly after for many years.   I was overjoyed to see its resurrection, at Lord & Taylor, a 1.8 ounce bottle for $100.   Har-de-har.) 

    Still, maybe someday . . . and if I ever do own it again, you can bet I’ll be splashing that puppy all over the place.

  • Wedding stationeries are pretty new in the industry. There are some
    couples who are still unwilling to invest on them simply because they
    rest on the belief that for many years now, many weddings have went on
    successfully even without a wedding stationery.

  • The world’s first recorded chemist is considered to be a woman named Tapputi, a perfume maker who was mentioned in a cuneiform tablet from the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia.She distilled flowers, oil, and calamus with other aromatics then filtered and put them back in the still several times.