Is it More Frugal to be a Minimalist or a Hoarder?

Posted by Mrs Money on March 15th, 2010

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Creative Commons License photo credit: romana klee

It seems that minimalism is a huge trend lately, especially among frugal people. Personally I am a fan of minimalism and can understand the benefits of decluttering and living a simple life.  If you can sell some of your Stuff and make money to fund your emergency fund or pay off debt, fantastic!  But stop and think about it- what is more frugal, minimalism or hoarding?  There are benefits and drawbacks to both.

When minimalism peaks one’s interest, people tend to get rid of things, sell their stuff and make some extra money.  They also save money because they try not to go out and buy new things.  They have less possessions, which allows them to live in smaller spaces and save money on rent or mortgage payments, electricity, and reduces their carbon footprint.  Chances are they shop at thrift stores, which also helps local economies and recycles items.

With hoarding, people already have tons and tons of things.  They don’t need to go out and buy new Stuff because they already own enough possessions for themselves and probably many others too.  When they need something new, they can just go to their stash and may be able to re-purpose an item into something they can use.  One thing they do need is more space to keep their things, versus a minimalist.

I can honestly see where both minimalism and hoarding can be frugal.  Truth be told, I sway more to the minimalism side.  I can’t stand too much crap! It drives me crazy.  I believe the less Stuff I have, the less I have to clean and take care of, and that makes me happy.

What do you think- is it more frugal to be a minimalist or a hoarder? Are you more of a minimalist or hoarder?

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46 Responses to “Is it More Frugal to be a Minimalist or a Hoarder?”


  1. Boris says:

    Dear Ms. Money,
    Definitely a minimalist is more frugal than a hoarder.
    I would say that probably the hoarder feels more miserable though…
    I am more of a minimalist, but my primary focus is on enjoying the journey.
    All the best,
    Boris

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Boris- I think so too. I would go crazy as a hoarder! That doesn’t mean that I’m not addicted to a few minutes of the tv show hoarders. :)

    “my primary focus is on enjoying the journey”

    What a great quote! :)

    [Reply]

  2. You make a great point–if you decide to maintain your minimalism but keep buying and tossing all the time, then you are hardly frugal.

    Also, I dislike clutter, but I will stock up on some things to use on projects and while I stock up, I’m sort of hoarding random stuff. For example, when making my first thermal cooker, I saved up a lot of cardboard and magazines to cut up for ‘filling’ and insulation. I suppose if you’d looked in my kitchen cupboard and found that stuff, you could have called me a hoarder. But it allowed me to gather enough stuff to make something I wanted (for saving energy while cooking) for free.

    Buying new every time you want to do something green or frugal is not a way to save money.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Simple in France- I save boxes. They are in my attic, and I plan to use them for shipping things I sell online. I have used a couple, but I think I have a little more than I need!

    I think there’s a balance between each of them. You can go too far either way. :)

    [Reply]

  3. I lean toward min but my husband is a hoarder. We try to strike a balance. On the main level of our ranch, we have no clutter. In the basement, everything we want to keep are stored on shelves & bins, all neat and organized.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Random Thoughts- My hubby is a minimalist and I sway towards minimalism but I like some things. I would love to get my basement organized. It is somewhat of a mess. :)

    [Reply]

  4. When I was growing up, my parents tended to hoard quite a bit – towels, bowls, just random items. There was plenty of clutter abound in the house, but they rarely went out to buy things unless absolutely necessary.

    For me, because I grew up with the clutter, I can’t stand clutter and prefer to live as minimalistic as possible. At the same time, I stockpile when possible (we’re good on toiletries for the rest of this year) but keep the stockpile organized and out of sight. I typically won’t buy something until it’s absolutely necessary or I can score an amazing deal on it.

    I, too, see the benefits and drawbacks to each lifestyle. If you can make minimalism or hoarding work for you in a frugal manner, go for it.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Saving Her Life- My parents do too. My dad’s barn is PACKED FULL of stuff. Next time I go there, I should take pictures. :)

    I 100% agree- I grew up with clutter and can’t stand it. My mom thinks I’m crazy and she knows how I am. I stockpile things like that too, so I’m not that bad. ;) There’s a balance that needs to be had. :)

    [Reply]

  5. I don’t think either one is more frugal than the other. It’s a matter of lifestyle choice and both can save money if executed with frugality in mind.

    I’m neither. When too much “stuff” builds up, I do a major detox and sell and give away what I don’t use or need.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Lakita- I think that’s perfect! I think if hoarding or minimalism makes a person happy, that’s awesome!

    I’m a mix of both. I like to keep it simple, but then I hate to toss things, like clothes, in fear that I will need them later. :)

    [Reply]

  6. Catherine says:

    I think there is a happy medium between the hoarders that you see on TV that can’t walk through their houses and the everything-I-own-fits-in-a-backpack minimalist. I come from a family of “savers”, but we don’t save TRASH or something that has NO USE! It is important to keep things organized as well, because there is no point in saving it if you can’t find it when you need it. For example, my parents saved a 15-foot curtain rod that they had used about 20 years ago before they remodeled their house. It was in their outdoor storage, so it was not taking up any of their living space. But when I needed a 13 foot curtain rod, my dad just cut it to size for me and saved me upwards of $200! My grandmother just gave me a comforter that she had stored away when I mentioned we were pretty cold at night. The key to saving things for later is to only do it if you can be organized and not have the “stuff” interfere with your day to day life.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Catherine- OMG Hoarders on tv is crazy! I definitely agree with the balance. My family saves things too. I’m definitely grateful for some of the things that have been shared with me. :) As long as it works for someone, I’m happy.

    [Reply]

  7. Jin6655321 says:

    Don’t’ forget that there’s the storage cost to storing.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Jin6655321- Yes, that’s totally true!

    [Reply]

  8. Satsuki says:

    I’d say hoarding is more frugal when it comes to consumable objects- food, toiletries, etc. There are deals you can get with coupons that are often free or under $1, organic food included. I stock up when I find the deals. For example I have 8 bags of baby carrots in my fridge. Rather than let them go to waste I’m going to slice them up and dehydrate them to save for soups, carrot cake, etc. We’ll be set on carrots for quite awhile.

    However when it comes to “stuff” I have more than I know what to do with. It drives me nuts. I’ve been “decluttering” for months.

    My verdict- Keep your pantries stocked but for the rest of your home less is more. You can’t put a price on peace of mind.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Satsuki- I agree. I stock up on things like that too. That’s awesome that you can score good deals like that and then actually use the products! I know that sometimes I buy too much because it’s on sale and I don’t use all of it. That drives me nuts!

    I’ve been decluttering too. It feels great when you can get rid of things and feel the open space. Makes me happy. I love your verdict! You definitely can’t put a price on peace of mind.

    [Reply]

  9. I think my husband and I are closet hoarders who would really like to be minimalists. Well, I would like to be a minimalist. ;-)

    I think being a minimalist is more frugal because (1) you buy less stuff to begin with and (2) perhaps most importantly, minimalism gives you TIME and sometimes we buy things (like convenience food) because we think we don’t have time to do things the long way. How does minimalism give you time? Less time to organize, store and clean stuff (assuming you are an organized hoarder) and less money spent on organizers, storage space and cleaning materials. Less time spent looking for lost stuff (assuming you are NOT an organized hoarder) and less money spent replacing what’s ‘lost.’

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    ami- That’s funny :)

    I agree with all your points! It seems like minimalism is the way to go now.

    I would love to start a series where I feature before and afters of people’s rooms that have benefited from decluttering. That would be fun!

    [Reply]

  10. I guess I’m a reformed hoarder. I’ve become more of a minimalist as I get older. Like Lakita, I will let some stuff build up for a while, but then I’ve got to purge. My build-up tolerance is getting lower and lower though.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    2 Cents- I agree. I do the same thing. I go in waves from minimalist to hoarder. At least it’s not as bad as that tv show!

    [Reply]

  11. I don’t think minimalists and hoarders are good opposites, at least in my perception of the terms. To me a hoarder is someone who has a ton of stuff and probably a good deal of it is useless. I would never imagine a hoarder being organized. I have a hard time throwing anything away, but have worked on decluttering most of my adult life and still struggle with it. Like some other commenters have said, what’s the point of keeping stuff if you can never find it. When we were living below poverty level and I was a stay at home mom, I had the time to organize the stuff. I had no extra money to buy anything, so I was very reluctant to part with something that nowadays I could easily replace. I still find myself wanting to keep things and then I really have nowhere to put them, lose them and end up having to buy replacements. It’s a hard thing to get over since being poor started in my childhood.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Mrs. A- I agree, I don’t think they are good opposites either. I think there’s a balance that needs to be had. I tend to want to keep some things, thinking that I’ll need them in the future. And then there are times I want to just pack a suitcase and travel the US. LOL

    [Reply]

  12. I’m trying to become more minimalist. I’ve been on a ruthless decluttering campaign lately. My current project is the basement and after that the garage. We just have far too much “stuff” we don’t need.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Saving Money Today- I hear ya on the ruthless decluttering. The basement seems to have all the stuff that you don’t want to deal with! That’s where I throw a lot of my stuff that I don’t have the patience to decide what to do with.

    [Reply]

  13. H Lee D says:

    I used to be a packrat (same as a hoarder? you decide :)) and am definitely on the minimalist path now.

    I moved across country sans truck 7 years ago – there was much purging.

    I’m learning that while my junk was usually tidy and wasn’t trash (according to whom?), I never used most of it. And when there is less stuff around, I feel better. Cluttered space isn’t comfortable any more. The knickknacks are almost completely gone, except for a select few that make me happy. Fewer things on the walls. Fewer things on dressers and tables and bookcases. Fewer things in closets. It feels better.

    In all the stuff I have gotten rid of over the years, I think I have only ever gone looking for something I purged twice.

    Though I don’t seem to be one of those people who can sell their stuff and make money. No one wants to buy the stuff I’m getting rid of, it seems. There’s another to-go pile in the living room right now that was on Craigslist for a while to no avail. So it goes. I’d still rather donate it than keep it.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    H Lee D- I worry about getting rid of something I’ll need later, like clothes.

    No one wants to buy my stuff either! I’ve had three yard sales and made pretty much no money. And Craigslist sometimes is flaky too. We must have junk! lol ;)

    [Reply]

  14. Josanne says:

    I believe a minimalist is probably more frugal than a hoarder for a few reasons.

    Usually, maybe not always, but usually a hoarder buys things because they are a compulsive buyer. I’ve heard the comment, “It was only xxx cents, and you just don’t pass a deal like that up!” Sometimes the hoarder buys for the thrill of the great deal, and because they “may be able to use it someday”.

    Also, true hoarders have so many things that it is difficult to find what they are looking for because they don’t have enough room for everything. When that happens, they go out and buy the item they can’t find in their home, even tho it’s there.

    Minimalists have a different mindset altogether. They don’t have to run to the store because they can’t find the scissors, even tho they have 3 pairs. And when they are at the store, they don’t buy things that will clutter up the home just because it is a great deal.

    I would say that a minimalist as a general rule, has a clearer mind as well, along with more organization, which results in more productivity, especially if they work at home. Hoarders waste a good deal of time just trying to find the things they need to work on, which, if they work from home, leads to a lot of lost time.

    I used to be somewhat of a cluttery person, but a house fire took me back to owning nothing but a few baskets of clothes(I happen to be at the laundromat when the fire burned our house down), and while re-building our lives, I DEFINATELY want to be a minimalist. I really don’t miss that many things that I lost in the fire. It’s hard to imagine throwing out everything you own in one shot, but even tho we didn’t throw our things away, we still lost everything at once. I have no desire to go back to having so much clutter.

    In fact, sometimes if I’m shopping at thrift stores, when the urge hits me to “just buy some stuff”, I start to get a sick feeling. And truthfully, I’m glad. :)

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Josanne- First of all, I am so sorry to hear about your house fire :( That is sad.

    I agree- hoarders seem to spend money whenever on whatever just because of the thrill of buying. Great points!

    [Reply]

  15. ISA says:

    A hoarder doesn’t think they have enough so they keep on acquiring stuff, I don’t think that’s very frugal

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    ISA- I agree!

    [Reply]

  16. Jenny says:

    I don’t like hoarding. It has such a pathological connotation. Sometimes I do collect items I think a friend or I could use, such as books and baby carriers (I LOVE pretty baby carriers) if I find an awesome deal, but I don’t just randomly acquire stuff and hold onto it indefinitely. We did that to some extent when we rented a bigger house, and none of it was useful. It was just a big cluttery mess, and we took about half of what we owned to Goodwill. Having an item shoved into storage doesn’t save any money if when you finally come to need it, you can’t find it. I avoid clutter as much as possible by sending things out to donate as new stuff comes in.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Jenny- I don’t like storing things. It drives me nuts. I would much rather not own the item. I have friends that have storage units and very rarely go in them, and I’m like, what’s the point?

    [Reply]

  17. I grew up poor. Dirt floor poor. My father could fix anything, so we rarely threw anything away, but we certainly didn’t have more than we needed. We simply didn’t throw away an item that still had life in it.

    I would love to be a minimalist, as I am more comfortable in that environment, but I struggle with trashing a perfectly good _______, which is the hoarding curse.

    I am on a mission to declutter my home, and use up my hoarding stash by upcycling my hoard into crafty items.

    1 magazine down (my youngest and I made a paper bead necklace and bracelet for a friend’s birthday and then gave her the supplies to make her own.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    TreeHugginMomma- Sorry to hear that :(

    I have some problems getting rid of things sometimes. I have to tell myself I am donating it and hopefully someone will love it as much as I did. :)

    That is awesome you are working with the things that you have! It makes me happy. :)

    [Reply]

  18. I’ve been challenged more lately to just live simply, and I think that tends to point more towards minimalism.

    Hoarding by it’s definition seems to be more selfish – but maybe looking at opportunities to give away our stuff to others who are in need is something we should all strive for – or at least consider.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Jason- I like simple living too!

    I like that analogy. I struggle sometimes with donating things because I feel like I’m losing money by not selling. Then I think that hopefully someone will love it as much as I did!

    [Reply]

  19. tracy says:

    I think I am the only “hoarder” on here! I have lots of clothes in bins and bags downstairs for my girls, my son i the only boy, I can easily keep his clothes contained. My girls are 22, 13, 10, 8, 5, and 3, and my three yo is small, I am just now giving away the 18 month clothes.
    I have to keep clothes in all seasons, coats in all sizes, we get beautiful hand me downs. Having made very little money the last several years, we don’t have money for clothes and household items. If I don’t store and keep and use what people give us, we don’t have it.
    I buy shoes, underwear, some jeans, and pajamas for Christmas. I buy uniforms if I can’t get them at the thrift store.
    Hoarding works wonders for me. People give us things, canned goods, clothes, toys, videos, I save and hand out, and gift with toys someone else bought, and use blankets someone else paid for, and it works. We have a nice lifestyle and the kids fit in and look good, and wear nice dresses and shoes and coats due to my hoarding and sorting.
    I could not be a minimalist and make it work financially.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Tracy- That is okay! :) My friend has kept four years worth of her little girl’s clothes. I think you have to do what makes you happy. I can see how hoarding works for some people. I understand the frugal side of it too. ;) I’m glad you commented! :)

    [Reply]

  20. Kari says:

    I am definitely trying to go toward minimalism! I still have ways to go but I believe it is by far more frugal. I think hoarders usually cannot find what they have so they buy more and they usually have shopping addictions that cause them to be hoarders in the first place. But there are those that try to reuse everything and it works so that is great for them . For me I am trying to declutter! I think if I can be more organized and have more peace in my home that I will be less likely to spend money and buy things I just don’t need or cannot find. Plus less things means less to clean!

    [Reply]

  21. Tightwad says:

    frugal is minimalist; hoarding is extremist. and wasteful. yuk.

    [Reply]

  22. jj says:

    The problem with hoarding is it isn’t a clutter problem, it’s a behavior problem.. so even if a hoarder has a house full of useful stuff, instead of being frugal and using it, they’ll go buy more stuff. (That’s how they got it all in the first place.)
    If you made a normal person live in a hoarder’s house, they would have a very easy time being frugal with all that stuff. But a hoarder living in a hoarder’s house is not frugal.

    [Reply]

  23. Priya says:

    I’d say neither minimalist nor hoarder but a healthy blend in between.

    [Reply]


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