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Simple Living



by Nikki Willhite

When I was taking my Interior Design classes in college, in one of my classes we were given a special project. We were to go downtown and do some shopping. We were to buy something for a small amount of money. It could be anything...but it had to be able to serve 3 purposes.

It was interesting to see all the different objects people bought, and hear their explanations for the different ways these objects could be used. Most of all, it was a great lesson in creativity and versatility.  Although it wasn't the purpose of the exercise, it was also a lesson in frugality.

If you can find 3 uses for something you want to buy, it will never be wasted.

Consider the clothing that you buy. If you buy a dress, there is not a lot of versatility. However, if you buy a sweater, you can find many uses for it. You can wear it casually with pants, or dress it up with a skirt. It can also just be worn for warmth. It fits the guidelines.

An object like a glass bowl has many uses. You can use it for food, either serving food or food preparation. You can fill it with fruit and use it as an accessory on your countertop or table. You can fill it with potpourri. It is great for holding any type of liquid item.

A basket also has many uses.  I'm sure you could come up with a dozen of them, from holding skeins of yarn to bills, magazines, food, and flowers. Almost anything you want to store can be put in a basket.  What could be more versatile?

Here's another way to look at it. Think of your hands. How many purposes can you think of for them? Now think of buying a pearl ring for one of your fingers. What purpose does that ring serve? It is decorative, and worn for only one reason- to look good.

If you tire of that ring, or your fingers get larger and it can't be sized, is there any other purpose for that ring? Not really, unless you remove the stone and put it in another setting (which will be expensive) or give it to someone. So just be sure you really want that ring before you buy it.

On the other hand (no pun intended) when you buy a wedding ring, it has several purposes. It is a symbol of your marriage union. It has sentimental value. It is also decorative. It could be said, in some ways,  to be worn for security. It passes "The Rule of 3".

Here are some examples of multiple use items:

Sofa Sleeper
family seating
seating for company
guest bed

pay bills
write letters
computer workstation

decor and style
check the time
keep appointments

Scotch Tape
seal letters
sewing aid
wrap presents

Another example of a single purpose item is a piano. I couldn't live without mine, but then, I play it every day. However, for it to be useful, someone has to play it. If someone does it is money well spent.

If, however, after you buy it you tire of lessons and it just sits there, that is a problem. How many people do you know that have pianos just sitting in their home? The only time they are played is when company comes. Since it is probably not being maintained or tuned, it isn't played for long.

Think carefully before buying items with just one purpose. They may not serve you well.

About the Author: Nikki Willhite, mother of 3 and an interior design graduate, has been writing and publishing articles on the topic of frugal living for over a decade. Visit her at - where you will find hundreds of frugal living tips and articles. Frugal Happy Families- more than just money! 

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