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Why you should think before you buy

Melissa Schmalenberger, Ms Simplicity columnist

Before I make a purchase I always have one thing go through my head: how will I dispose of this when I am done with it?

Sure, I make those impulse purchases. I had that unicorn sweater hanging in my closet for at least 10 years and never wore it. Yes, it actually had an appliqued unicorn on the front of it. It was glorious. But I never wore it. I eventually donated it, and I am sure it is making the rounds at ugly sweater parties.

But the idea of thinking about where your purchases will eventually end up should give you pause before you pull out the debit card.

More importantly, have this conversation with your children so that they start to think about where purchases go when they no longer find the item useful.

I have successfully used this philosophy in my own purchases. I currently need a new snow blower. We tried to repair our current one, but it needs to have costly repairs done that I am not willing to pay. I should probably buy a new snow blower, but I am not sure how much longer we will be living in our home since we will become empty nesters this year. So, we haven't made the purchase.

As for the old one, it will go out on the curb during spring cleanup week. I will hang a sign on it saying what repairs need to be done, and I am certain some mechanically minded person will come and pick it up and give it another life.

In our area, we have one week a year we call spring cleanup where we can place large items on the curb for the city to pick up. But what has happened is people hunt down items that they can upcycle in some way. I put out my items the night before pick up and when I wake up the items are gone.

I have placed our lawn mower with the broken handle at the curb, along with some cinder blocks and our old refrigerator that needed a pump of some kind. All of them were in good condition but for the fact that they needed some repairs that I was not able to make or unwilling to pay to have done.

I bought my family room furniture when we moved into our house 16 years ago. It has seen better days, and I will soon replace it. In my mind, I easily see it in the apartment of college students.

I have donated an old vehicle and our old washer and dryer to a family at church. I don't want to fill up the landfills. I have bought our living room furniture from a friend from a Facebook post giving it new life.

I think the key is to stop and pause before you purchase. Too often we make those impulse purchases without much thought. Sure, some of us think about the price and if we can afford the item. But I challenge you to start thinking about when the item is no longer of use how are you going to dispose of it.

Ms. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger is a professional organizer based out of Fargo and author of "Organizing in Simplicity: Kitchens." Email her at melissa@mssimplicity.com.

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