Hoarder, Collector, or Prepper?



I have heard the term “hoarder” bandied about lately. Ever since reality TV has featured hoarding situations, people have begun using the term to refer to anyone with a lot of stuff. As someone with a lot of stuff, I take offense. Not really – it’s hard to offend me, but it has given me a lot to think about.

Having a lot of stuff does not necessarily make one a hoarder. I’m no psychologist, but my albeit uneducated understanding is that hoarding is a sign of mental illness. There are true hoarders out there who desperately cling to their stuff and cannot bear to part with it. My problem has more to do with the lack of time to deal with it all. I am happy to throw stuff away, give stuff away, donate, repurpose, you name it. I just need the world to stop so I have time to do it.
I certainly would consider myself a collector. I go through phases, and after a time, I may grow out of something and end up getting rid of a bunch of stuff. For example, as a retired racing greyhound adopter, I am enamored with the breed and have collected all kinds of greyhound stuff. If it has a greyhound on it, I bought it. Now, finding I have too much greyhound stuff, I’m slowly but surely rehoming some of that stuff. I may still occasionally add to my collection but using a more discriminating eye.
Another type of person who may have a lot of stuff is what some call a Prepper. Preppers are those who prepare for impending disaster or apocalypse. Depending on their available resources, they typically collect large stores of food, water, equipment, and anything else they might need if they find themselves in a survival situation. I don’t consider myself a prepper, but I do like to stock up on basic supplies. A long-term power outage, major snowstorm, or temporary financial setback will make me grateful for the forethought, and I recommend to everyone that you have enough supplies to get you through a short-term problem.
Whether you fit neatly into one of these categories or not, I have some guidelines for you to consider when you are obtaining more stuff.
Ask yourself WHY. Why do you want it? Do you already have what you need? If you are stocking up on an item, what’s a sufficient amount? Do you just want to stock up a few days worth, a few months, a few years, a lifetime? If you have more beans than you can consume in your life, you don’t need more.
Seek BALANCE. Are you obsessed with your stuff? Are you missing out on life for the sake of getting more stuff? Why collect a garage full of tools unless you use them to make useful and beautiful things? Do you have 6 months worth of food and no water? Plan your purchases wisely.
What does the stuff BENEFIT? In what scenario would you ever use so many of an item? I’m sure my husband will kill me if I buy another blanket, but we use all of our blankets, and they are extremely useful for many purposes.
How much does it COST? Don’t go broke buying things you don’t need.
Do you have enough SPACE? This is my problem. It’s not that I have too much stuff… my last two moves have been into smaller houses. We have too much stuff for our space, so we need to eliminate more stuff and/or make more efficient use of the space we have.
How much PREPARATION or maintenance does it require? If it’s going to take all your time to make or clean, is there an alternative? Remember, it’s not just one thing – it’s all your stuff that needs attention. If you have more than you can manage, it’s too much.
How does it affect your RELATIONSHIPS? Do you have your priorities straight? Are your family/friends worried about you? Mad at you? You may need to make some changes if you find your priorities are out of whack.
Do you find my guidelines helpful? What guidelines would you add? Tell me in the comments…

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2 thoughts on “Hoarder, Collector, or Prepper?

  1. I met a guy with an Astro van packed top to bottom with paper wrappers and other kinds of discarded paper. When I say packed, I mean it was a solid mass of paper that looked like it was compressed into the van like a trash compacter. The guy had built a rack on top that was the size of the entire roof, with sides over a foot tall. The rack was packed tight with paper that anyone else would call garbage too. I'd call that guy a hoarder.

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