I have so many things to get rid of--not in the materialistic sense of "stuff" we have like clothes, DVDs, or gadgets (though I have plenty of those), but things that routinely get used up and finished off, and then replaced...and yet, it's so hard to actually finish them off. Things like that good-smelling lotion or body spray, an economy size box of pocket tissues, all those free samples I get in the mail.
I like to joke that as a girl, I need never buy soap or body wash for myself. That tends to be a pretty safe gift for someone to give a woman if you don't know her that well--case in point, at both of my new jobs, which I started close to Christmas, my (female) bosses gave me lovely bath sets of body wash, lotion and shower pouf. I’ve given and received such sets when dealing with that first-Christmas issue with acquaintances-who-are-almost-friends, coworkers, and significant others sisters. It’s usually great--while you run the risk that she'll hate the scent, most women simply have preferences and not outright aversions.
Anyway, I am STILL trying to finish off the bottle of lotion that came with the set my previous boss gave me, and so my most recent Christmas gift sits in my closet, still unopened (though appreciated). For years now I have noticed my tendency to use these things until there are maybe three or four applications left--then I never use it again, because I don't want to use it all up and then not have it (or have to spend money to buy more). I do the same thing with makeup--I'll wear a favorite eye shadow constantly until there are a few more days left, then will start on a new one. I won't toss the old one, because I might want to use it again for a special occasion (which invariably never arises), but I would hate to actually use it up and throw away the empty package.
Samples and travel sizes are a similar bane. I LOVE free stuff. I will fill out forms, make it an appallingly long way into those "select three offers from our sponsors" promotions, promise to do viral marketing or scan all my groceries when I purchase them or otherwise hand over my soul for a free gift*. So I check Walmart.com's free sample section regularly and click through for whatever free goop Garnier or Pantene offers me. I'm also that person who collects all the hotel sample-size bottles while traveling (despite the fact that, when traveling, I bring my own shampoo and conditioner because there's no way their little bottles will even moisten my hair). This has resulted in quite a little collection of bottles and plastic pouches, especially of lotion.
The pouches sit in my little health&beauty organizer in my closet until they get old and start leaking all over everything inside, ruining the extra rubber thing for my eyelash curler and an entire pack of emery boards. The little bottles roll around and every once in a while I go through and organize them and note, wow, I have so much lotion! I can carry these in my purse and keep them at work and I won't need to buy little tubes of lotion anymore!
And yet, I don't--I leave them in the box, and during Bath & Body Works annual sale I stock up on their smelly lotion and put those in the places I mentioned. Which would be fine, IF I DIDN'T ALREADY HAVE THIS STUFF AT HOME. But I can't seem to use the ones I have because, well, then I wouldn't have them anymore to use if I needed them.
Since the original version of this post was written, I have in fact succeeded in using the bottle of lotion from my previous boss, and am even working my way through some lotions from another gift set. I have also collected three days worth of shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash and lotion from each of three hotels. I have also tossed miniature bottles in all the places I should have them, and seem to instead use only the bottle in my purse (which I PURCHASED during a minor dry skin emergency). While perhaps not win-win, it has been more at the top of my mind, and I’m hoping that by the next time I move, all the samples will be used up at least. I got another in the mail yesterday, a miniature bottle of facial cleanser which is actually quite helpful as I’m flying home for the weekend and wasn’t sure if pre-moistened facial clothes were allowable in carry-on baggage. So I can take that instead, and not have to pay to check my bags (an irritating new "service" from Spirit Airlines).
*Note: About the only free stuff offers I won't fall for are the "free gift with purchase" scams, however. If I have to buy something, it's not free.