Confession: earlier today, I finally spent a gift card that I'd had for over two years. This was an extreme example, but I do things like that all the time. I don't hoard, exactly, but I ration special things out. It might be a gift card, or a favorite beauty product, or whatever. I make it last as long as possible--sometimes to the point of not wanting to use it at all.
I started thinking about why I behave this way, and I guess a lot of factors are at work here (besides me just being a general wacko):
1) I'm saving the special thing for a rainy day. And when a rainy day comes, sometimes I keep on saving it, because I figure an even rainier day is bound to come along.
2) Rationing something out bit by bit lets me have my cake and eat it, too.
3) The anticipation of using it is part of the enjoyment of having it.
4) I'm afraid of not using it right/wisely. Like in the case of a gift card, what if I use it now and then later I see something I need/want more?
5) With our household budget the way it's been the past few years (which is really at the root of all these reasons), I'm so accustomed to not having any choices, that I become paralyzed when given the chance to choose something. That was the case with the gift card I spent today. I'd almost used it many times, but just couldn't bring myself to make a decision.
In Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project, she talks about "spending out." Whereas I ration things, Rubin often doesn't want to use things at all, and she says this habit gets in the way of her happiness. She resolves to spend out, rather than saving something for a special occasion.
This needs to be one of my resolutions, too. I know my rationing gets in the way of my happiness, because it's coming from a place of fear--fear that there's no more where that came from, fear that what I have will need to last me indefinitely, fear that circumstances will get worse and then I'll realllly wish I had XYZ back. Like Gretchen Rubin, I hope to learn to "trust in abundance" and not be so stingy with myself. Not that I want to squander what I have, but to enjoy it as it's meant to be used.