Keeper of Things

Waste not, want not.

My parents pounded this idiom into my head all through my childhood. My wife came from a similar background. Neither one of us throw anything away that has a potential use until we ask the other one if they might have a need for it. This doesn’t mean we are pack rats. We have limits on how many of a certain type item we save for a future use.

My wife saves glass jars of different sizes to put homemade trail mix in for Christmas gifts. Last year she gave away 20 of these jars of trail mix to friends and neighbors. Since her childhood she has saved wood boxes. These are just two examples out of about thirty types of things she saves. Many of her saved things go back to her childhood six plus decades ago.

I, on the other hand, am not so picky. If I think I may need an item in the future, I keep it … at least for a while. You would be surprised at how many times I’ve needed something that I’ve had saved for years. Just a few of the things I keep for a future need are:

  • Plastic containers (no more than 20)
  • Quality rubber bands
  • Rope
  • Screws, bolts, nuts, nails, washers, anchors, electric connectors, etc.
  • Paint
  • Plasters and putty

My wife and I are do-it-yourself type people. Some couples have a hobby that they share. We build, remodel or repair things together. As a result, we have over 30 years worth of leftover hardware from projects that we have tackled over the years. We almost always have any size or type of screw, bolt, nut or anchor we would ever need.

Three years ago I had an on-demand water heater break down. Since it was going to take 10-14 days to get the repair parts, we bought a new one. However, I still had the broken water repaired and put it in storage as a backup unit. The repair cost was $120. The cost of the new one was $492.

Two weeks ago the on-demand water heater broke down at a rental property we own. After having the unit looked at by a repair man, he told us the unit was too old and worn to put any money into it. So, I installed the on-demand water heater that we had stored for the last three years for such an event. At least for a few years, we saved $372 by having a backup water heater.

Another aspect of this story is that on-demand water heaters are difficult to find right now in Ecuador due to Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. Since many parts of the world were locked down for two months, units were not being manufactured or shipped. Hence, the marketplace inventories are mostly depleted.

This is a perfect example of why repairing things instead of throwing them away is not only frugal … it’s also the smart thing to do. You may not need it not need it now, but you may need it badly down the road.

Do you have a story about saving things? I would love to know about it. Please use the comment box below to share your story.

If you prefer to contact me directly, please email me at

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Published by W. M. Brown

I am a retired U.S. expat living in Ecuador. I was a business owner for 32 years before retiring in 2012.

4 thoughts on “Keeper of Things

  1. I save lots of things. My husband and I are typically self-employed so income is usually feast or famine. I constantly save for rainy days. We also diy our own projects (we are working on being better at working together.) I will say, I get quite overwhelmed by clutter and have to frequently purge out closets and cabinets of plastic containers, cardboard boxes, and jars. Have you ever heard of earth ships?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As a Highly Sensitive Introvert, clutter and chaos definitely cause me to become overstimulated … quickly. That’s why my wife calls me an anal neat freak. Everything has its place and everything in its place and I tend to get angry when I go to find something and has been moved from where it belongs.

      No, I have not heard about earth ships.

      By the way, I was a small business owner for 32 years, so I can relate to the feast or famine flow of income. There were a few times that my employees made more than I did.


      1. I am the clean organized one of my marriage as well. Order helps put me at ease. I am currently between dissolving my business and looking for job where someone else can make decisions but I live in rural Kentucky and jobs are hard to find here (especially when your resume only contains working for yourself). On another note, I would like to one day build an earthship. I’ll try and link the website for the organization/architect. I’m sure you can imagine how saving up supplies would easy get out of hand!

        Liked by 1 person

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