So I Married a Keeper

Last weekend, I was getting ready for a garage sale and Father’s Day. It got me thinking about two things: my husband and stuff. My husband is a keeper, in more ways than one. He is a wonderful guy who has a hard time getting rid of, well, just about anything.

He straightens bent nails and tucks them away in his toolbox. He saves bread bags and plastic containers. He digs through the trash at work for pop cans. He stops the car to take a closer look at what those FREE signs on the side of the road are offering [Seriously, people, please stop putting those out. The odds are very high that your junk will end up in our garage. Thank you.]  Scraps of wood, old fluorescent tubes, glass windows, old bikes, rusty tools. He can imagine a use for all of these random objects. The saying, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” fits my husband perfectly.

Now you may be thinking, “Well, he just sounds like a hoarding pack rat.” Not true. On top of being a saver, he is also a skilled builder. His standard reply is, “You never know when it might come in handy.” And I really, really hate to admit it, but the man is right. As we have slowly remodeled our home over the last five years, those random scraps of wood and lengths of pipe have significantly reduced our expenses. I can’t even tell you how many Home Depot trips we were spared because my husband just happened to have the right piece of hardware or bucket of primer hidden away in the garage.

The lumber from our old deck? I would have burned it in our wood stove. My husband cut it down and built a sturdy compost bin. The old concrete utility sink? I would’ve hauled it to the dump. My husband filled it with soil and turned it into a plant box. The pieces of beadboard from our dining room remodel? I thought the scraps were too small to be of any use. My husband, on the other hand, held on to them and they are now my favorite part of our kitchen update.

This kind of frugality goes against every well organized bone in my body. I am fast and impulsive. I want to sort and toss and save so we can buy new things. I am good at reducing.

My husband, on the other hand, is slow and methodical. He wants to think and repurpose and save old things so we don’t have to buy new. He is good at reusing and recycling.

His habits used to drive me nuts. However, I am finally beginning to realize that there is a method to his madness. He is teaching me to be more intentional about both my tossing; I am helping him be more intentional about his saving.

Maybe you are a keeper. Maybe you are a tosser. Perhaps you are a happy combination of the two.

Either way, here are some fun, creative resources [many in the greater Portland area] to help you buy or sell used items or find stuff for free:

: Used with common sense, this is a great place to find new and gently used items. Read Shelly’s post on craigslist for some tips and tricks.

of a freegan who hasn’t bought groceries in six months! This totally intrigues me.

For those of you ready to go hard core.

Give and get items for free. Search for a group near you!

Have you ever checked out The Bins at the Goodwill Outlet? It’s not for the faint of heart, but it sounds like some good, dirty fun.

Portland, Beaverton, and Vancouver locations. Find a bargain on used home building and furnishing supplies.

Garbage and recycling info for the greater Portland area. I love the ! Has anyone tried it?

Buy/sell gently used outdoor gear.

— Portland’s largest selection of used building material.

Have  you had any experience with any of these organizations or practices? What would you add to the list?

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18 Comments

With kids that grow and grow, I love that my good friend has 2 resale shops in SE Portland. What a great way to support someone from the neighborhood who has her own family, by purchasing gently used kids clothing at a fraction of the retail price!! Then when you’re done, you can sell it back or trade it and the cycle continues!

Another friend has had tons and tons of luck at the Goodwill bins. I think she goes regularly and I keep wanting to tag along, but I think you really need to have good eye 😉

Thanks for the great article!

This is funny 🙂 ghats real cool your husband actually reuses his “treasures” 🙂 my husband hates clutter, especially from our kids, and loves purging anybody elses stuff that is not his! I feel for our boys, they never know when dad will go on a cleaning rampage and what they will be left with when hes done! I’m just trying to work on getting him to sell or donate items that are still in good working order…t that and trying to keep stuff from being broken in the process :-/ he got mad at one of the boys for breaking something of his so he went NUTS on their play kitchen 🙁 I would have loved to given that to a daycare or something but noo, instead its been busted up sitting in my yard for weeks, ugh

Thanks for all those helpful websites. I have the opposite situation for a husband. He donates a lot of perfectly working anything and great big pieces of wood from his old projects. It use to annoy me, but I realized that I’m not going to use it and maybe he knows that he’s not going to use it because he doesn’t do a whole lot of woodwork (once every decade at the most). But, I do believe that holding on to things is good for a husband who is so handy like yours.

I am SHOCKED at what those girls found in the dumpster! Makes me want to do some midnight runs….if no one can recognize me….hehehehe…..

Metro paint rocks! Better than any other I have tried from the store and so much cheaper. We painted our whole house with it, only problem is lack of color selection, but you can always go with one of their colors and then buy a flashier trim color at the store.

It might drive you nuts, but your hubby actually has some great habits – the depression era folks would give a big thumbs up. As long as he keeps it organized and it doesn’t take over the house or property, and he actually purposes the treasures, I think it’s all okay. It’s his nature and that’s hard to fight. Besides, it’s good for Mother Nature!

I used to be a Goodwill bin digger, I sold the treasures online as a hobby. You wouldn’t believe some of the things I found for pennies on the dollar – antique hooked rugs, collectible McCoy pottery, quilts, and my personal fave to this day, a very valuable vintage Italian tole chandalier in mint condition. I paid about $4 for it and it was appraised at $500. Of course we rewired it and I kept it for myself.

Habitat stores also rule – amazing bargains there for good prices and you can haggle a bit. We just scored an awesome mid 50s wood credenza there for $25, would have cost us at least $250 in a store.

Second hand shopping rules, seriously. Smart shoppers know that retail should be the very last resort!

Everyone check out SCRAP on MLK in Portland!

They are a non-profit that supplies cheap art/craft/sewing material from donations. They accept a crazy amount of stuff, some of it seemingly not craft related. They sell everything for 25% (or less) of the retail value. Check it out: .

I’m a volunteer there and I love the place!

Don’t forget about Hippo Hardware! Many treasures to be found there!

We regularly use craigslist to both aquire and dispose of stuff. However- do your research- occasionally it makes sense to pay the fees and sell something on ebay.

Sometimes the stores selling recycled materials are a bargain and sometimes they are just virtuous because you aren’t consuming a new product. Make your buying decision based on what you value more highly.

Watching the show Hoarders has given my mildly hoarding husband the desire to start throwing things away! We have thrown away a ton of stuff recently that he had been holding onto for years, just in case. In reality, those things that get thrown away that you really did end up needing someday, only amount to a few dollars but lots of sanity saved in the meantime. We try not to get rid of stuff that would cost more than $40 or so to replace in the future if we decide we need it. Rebuying a few items later is worth the years of moving them from place to place and adding to the clutter.
We used Metro paint to paint our house and it worked great! Just be sure to buy enough so you don’t run out because the colors are made in batches and you won’t get the exact match next time you buy it.

Love the post! My grandpa was exactly like your husband…hammering out bent nails and all. Now my husband is a little like this and even though sometimes it drives me crazy…like the free pile of lumber in our driveway….the stuff does come in handy. He built our girls an awesome tree house complete with windows and door and deck and stairs and it cost us less than $10 oop because of the stuff he had or got for free.

I am the “there will be a use for this someday” person at our house!!!! I have come to consciously love my thought process when I encounter something that needs to become “garbage”. Can I use it for something else? Is it recyclable? Does someone else need it? My husband on the other hand has to get rid of stuff when I’m not looking because I take too long pining over the things that need to move on!

I love this post! Your husband sounds like a very handy sort of guy. Lucky you!

I am more the purge & get rid of type. I’m always struggling with clutter around our house and it drives me a little nutso. My husband on the other hand doesn’t like to get rid of anything. Not on the hoarding end of the spectrum but more of a “if it still works why do we need a new one” type of mentality. We’re probably the most low-tech family in our neighborhood (I would love a new computer and a flat screen tv).

Like your hubby he likes to keep scrap pieces of wood, old shelving, scrap this, scrap that, but unfortunately he’s not a very handy guy. So the stuff ends up staying where ever he puts it forever (usually in the garage). We have some old rope that he will not get rid of because “we might need it for something some day”, and I swear that stuff will literally disinegrate right in your hand into a cloud of dust. But we love him anyway for all his good intentions.

What a great post! It seems one is often with someone who has the opposite tendency. My husband’s dream birthday present would be to come home and find that I had rented a dumpster and was in the process of filling it. Oh how he adores purging! This goes against every bit of my midwestern “waste not, want not” upbringing. It was considered almost SINFUL to throw something away that may have a useful purpose some day. We were totally dumbfounded with the other’s perspective on this when we were first married. After both of us trying (unsuccessfully) to reform the other, we have instead learned a bit from the other and met in the middle. I’ve learned that it’s not good when you have so many things with “useful potential” that they take over your life and you can’t even find them when you need them. He’s learned that we really do save a lot of money when we don’t buy everything new. It’s all about learning from each other and meeting in the middle 🙂

Yes, Yes (my husband), No, No, No, Yes, Yes,Yes, Yes-
I am in the construction industry; I grew up in, work for, and married and one.
Metro paint is a good affordable way to paint your home for about ¼ of the cost. You can not be too picky about colors and if you are going to spray you need to double strain the paint. We painted our house for less than 400.00, trim and all.
If you are into designing, inside or out, any of the local rebuilding centers are a great place to look (especially if you have an older style home) sometimes you have to look at something twice to see the potential in the piece (old concrete sink) sometimes you can find some very knowledgeable people working there sometimes you need to come with your own tape measure and contractor in tow.
The next time you go to a rebuilding center (any of them) look around and see what would have ended up at the local land fill, whether it be reusable or one mans junk…..treasures