The High Price of Too Much Stuff | Studio M

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Today's thought isn't specifically craft related although applies to many of us "crafters". I was struck by an article over at MSN called "The High Price of Too Much Stuff" which talks about how the rise in credit card debt also coincides with the rise in the number of square feet of storage facilities available, even though the square footage of our homes has also increased during the same period. So it seems that not only are we buying more stuff, increasing our personal debt, and building bigger homes to store it in; we are also having to rent storage facilities because we still have too much.

This really hit home with me. I've only been scrapbooking for 4 years and have been through the cycle of consumption to out of control proportions and have now had to develop my own 3 step program (don't buy anything new, use what you love, purge what you don't love).

As a new scrapbooker/stamper, I quickly found that my need to own (but not necessarily use) craft products was out of control. I had never experienced anything like it before. The products were so beautiful and had so much creative potential and I needed a selection of everything just to get started (I'm not one of those "drive to the scrapbook store and pick out 2 sheets of paper for a specific project" type gals). Credit cards got used, making that great product or deal not so great once interest was factored in.

At first the products were pretty to look at, storing them was a form of home decor, and acted as an inspiration for what to create next. But once there was too much to fit on the shelf and I had to use utilitarian storage options, the products became a trigger for guilt (the guilt of how much was spent, and how much sat unused). Not only that, I was now having to spend money on storage and organization just for these supplies (and justify it). While I used some of the products to make scrapbook pages, cards, and other projects; after just a couple of years I had more product than I would use in a lifetime.

What opened my eyes to my "problem" were two things. The first was meeting a friend with probably 5 times more stuff than me, and more debt than me. I've often heard that it is easier to see your faults in someone else rather than yourself, and in this case it was. While she had all this stuff, she still wanted more. She thought that if she could purchase a house with a dedicated craft room and buy storage solutions, the problem would be solved. I could see that the problem wasn't storage/organization related, but a need to have it all and still want more. I've seen this in many crafters and often wondered why. Well I think it is because every product comes with so many new creative possibilities that to not purchase something, in some way, seems to be to put a creative ceiling on yourself which doesn't sit right with anyone who likes to be creative. The reality though, was that I was much more creative when I could see my stuff and knew what I had, and didn't feel guilty about it.

The second thing was wanting to try digital scrapbooking. I'd always been a computer geek and had used Photoshop to edit my digital photos. I liked the idea of digital scrapbooking because of the techniques you could achieve digitally and the fact that I didn't have to worry about my kids getting into my stuff when I left a layout only half done. The problem was that I couldn't continue to purchase more paper product if I was going to be creating layouts digitally. So I knew that I would have to clamp down on my buying habits.

Going "cold turkey" is not only difficult but is likely to result in a relapse :) so to contain my spending, I joined a stampers 10 club and restricted new purchases to that only. While $250 over 10 months sounds a lot, it really isn't for a stamper/scrapbooker (I have spent more than that in one month!). While it is a stamping club, I still have patterned paper, cardstock, consumables (like glue, glitter, ink, brads, ribbons) available. This is a great way to budget purchases if you have a "problem".

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