In her book Better than Before, Gretchen Rubin describes herself as a "confirmed underbuyer." She says she "delays making purchases or buys as little as possible."
Go with me to Costco (or even to Aldi), and you will see that I don't buy as little as possible. I am all about the huge bags of frozen fruit and veggies at Costco, and I've been known on more than one occasion to buy 4 or 5 bags of navel oranges at once from Aldi. I stock up on almond milk and seedless cucumbers and especially avocados. I like my second fridge and deep freezer to be full to overflowing so we don't run out of the things we like to eat.
But go look in my sock drawer or kitchen cabinets and it's a different story altogether. These are two of the places in life where I am markedly in Rubin's camp as an underbuyer.
Take socks, for example. Some people regularly buy socks and probably have too many socks. Other people, like myself, avoid buying socks until every single pair has holes and there is no choice but to go figure it out.
Over the years (and with many thanks to an amazing, but now obsolete, sock trade-in program by the Clark's shoe store), I collected more than a dozen pairs of the most comfortable, non-slip, no-show socks ever made. The quality of the socks is a different issue, considering that I now have a Gap bag in my sock drawer with 10 pairs of socks with holes.
Only 4 pairs of good socks remain. It works out pretty well most times that I can wash clothes quickly enough to keep at least a couple pairs of the good socks clean. The problem is in the discrepancy of time between clothes being washed and clothes being folded and put away.
In other words, I have to go downstairs and dig for socks. Too many days of that inconvenience and one might realize that it's less inconvenient to just go buy more socks. Unfortunately Clark's no longer carries the socks I love, which means I'm on Step Zero for Socks.
Does anyone have time to figure out how to buy new socks? I tried my hand at it a couple weeks ago, with shopping trips to Walmart and Target, and then return trips to return all the socks I bought. My feet felt hot in the socks or my feet felt like they were wearing hose.
In the meantime, I've resorted to a sort-of sock solution. Rather than dig for clean socks on the days when my sock drawer is empty, I reach in the Gap bag and pull out a pair with holes. I then proceed to wear them inside out so that the holes are in the least possible annoying positions on my toes (holes on the little toes bother me less than holes on the big toes).
Needless to say, I am open to sock suggestions.
I made a list the other day of what we might call "fallout" of my other underbuying tendencies.
I was down to one spatula, a kitchen utensil I use at least multiple times a day. I finally got so tired of handwashing the one spatula every time I used it that I made myself look at and choose a few new spatulas from Target. I tend to think it's preferable to wait to buy anything until I've done research and found the perfect [fill in the blank], but what's preferable is having more than one spatula, pronto.
I also need steak knives so guests aren't using my two little paring knives to cut their meat. I need cast iron skillets (two!) so I can stop using my non-stick pan for tofu and bacon. I need a serving utensil for roasted green beans instead of the free black plastic tongs we got with a catered meal a few years ago at TJ's work Christmas party. I need little glasses from Williams Sonoma because somebody keeps dropping the few we have and we are now down to only one. I need wine glasses because ours are cloudy and I can't figure out how to get the film off (except to buy nicer ones made of better glass?). I need kitchen towels because I keep throwing away the stinky, mildewy ones. I need printer paper because we homeschool and because little girls like to fingerpaint and make cards. I've just remembered we need new bath towels, too.
There may be other indications of me being an underbuyer....principally the never-ending hope with which I live that the things I own will last forever. I don't want to grow old, nor do I want my things to wear out. I don't want my spatulas to break or my glasses to break or my heart to break. I don't want my wine glasses or my mind to get cloudy. I want to live on this lake till the day I die, and I want my love for words and waterskiing to never die. I want to use my Will purse absolutely forever. I guess you get the picture. I want Tandem always in the picture, and me and those I love in the picture too. I want my fourteen pairs of socks to last a lifetime, and I want my lifetime to last an eternity.
And because I love this life
I know I shall love death as well.