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The Rule of 3 

By Nikki Willhite

When I was taking my Interior Design classes in college, in one of my classes I was given a special project. We were to go downtown 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 their explanations for what they could be used for. 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.

I call it the "Rule of Three".  If you can find three uses for something you want to buy, it will never be wasted.

Take clothing. 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 meets the Rule of Three.

An object like a glass bowl has many uses. You can use it for food, either serving or preparation. You can fill it with fruit and use it decoratively on your countertop or table. You can fill it with potpourri. You can even throw up in it when you are sick (sorry)!

Same thing for a simple basket. I'm sure you could come up with a dozen uses, from yarn to bills, magazines to food, floral arrangements to endless storage ideas. 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? Probably more than about anything else. 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 to be used for security in some ways. It passes the Rule of Three.

Here are some other examples to further illustrate my point:

Sofa Sleeper

Used as a bed.
Seating for company.
Seating for family.


Used to pay bills.

Used to write letters.

Used for studying.

Wire Whisk

Used to mix waffle batter.

Used to beat eggs.

Used to make cakes.

A Computer

See "Getting the Most out of Your Computer" for many examples of ways to use your computer.

A Clock

Check the time.


Keep your appointments.

Scotch Tape

Seal letters.

Sewing aid.

Wrap presents.

Here is one last example of a single purpose item is a piano. Now then, 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, you have made a mistake, from which you may or may not be able to recover your money. 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 (which is expensive) even they won't want to play it long.

Think carefully before buying items with just one purpose.


What other people are reading:

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Help A Local Charity Without Giving A Dime


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Related Links:  | Clothing |

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