I’ve recently converted. I am not talking about religion or politics…I am talking about stuff. I am a firm believer in less of it and I recently converted to the gospel of getting rid of it.
Seriously, I talk about this pretty often with my friends and family. This conversion almost certainly drives my mother nuts. I was not a particularly orderly child. These days when I go to her house and start to organize drawers, she probably laments that I wasn’t like this as a teenager and now it’s just annoying to her. We’ve reached a compromise, though, she will put up with me going through her stuff and telling her to stop buying so much of it, and I will put up with her cleaning my toilets. Should I tell her that I’m getting the better end of the bargain there? Nah.
I will stop picking on my mom for a moment, because, truthfully, we all have too much stuff. You do, I do…we all do. A recent article I came across in Money Magazine stated that “most Americans homes are stuffed with stuff–so much so, in fact, that about one in 10 households pays for extra storage space….” But even before we get to storage facilities, we first fill the inside of our homes–which often have spare rooms filled with unused stuff and basements and attics filled with long since forgotten and broken stuff. We have closets and garages, and cabinets and drawers filled to over-capacity with stuff.
A couple of funny things happen, though, when you finally commit to getting rid of all this excess baggage. First, you realize how much money you wasted in buying this stuff, some of which is never even used, and some of which you kept buying because you thought you didn’t have any more of the thing. After attempting to begin to organize three bathroom drawers for my mother, we quickly came to the conclusion that she will not need to buy another nail file for at least a good decade.
The second thing that happens with you start to purge is you realize that all the stuff you have laying around is actually money. So yes, you actually are made of money. You just have to mobilize and sell it. But that’s a topic for a follow-up article.
Even though my husband and I started downsizing our stuff (not our house… we’re staying around until housing prices rebound a bit) a couple of years back, it’s a constant process. I have to keep telling myself to REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE. Your process does not have to be in this order, but this mantra helps you on your journey to financial freedom and eco-responsibility.
Refusing free stuff is hard because, well… it’s free. But my rule is that I will only take stuff if I already use it regularly (like wrapping paper and tissue and fabric) and I will save money by not purchasing it. Another part of REFUSE is being disciplined about shopping. A good sale, like chocolate mousse, is almost impossible to resist. But I promise you that once you begin to get rid of your stuff and you see the amount of things that you didn’t use very often or at all, you will be more conscientious about your purchases.
The last thing I am encouraging you to do is embracing REDUCE by throwing everything you own in a the landfill. Please don’t do that. Think first about REUSE and RECYCLE. I will be doing a follow up article for where all your stuff can go, including some great ways to earn money.
In summary, clearing the clutter from your life has so many advantages. It will make you feel less stressed. You will enjoy living in your home more. You can make money. You can donate to someone super appreciative. You can shut your drawers and doors as furniture gods intended. You will be able to find things again. And finally, you will value what you have even more! Start purging now!
I find that this chore gets harder and harder every year with kids. Birthday’s, Christmas, or any excuse for people to buy gifts leaves them swimming in toys. The worst part is they don’t play with 90% of it. Pieces go missing, get broken and thrown into piles, or things just get shoved into backs of closets. I have gone through their toys yearly, getting rid of tubs of toys. It makes me sick to my stomach. For this reason I have taken an idea from our brother. Make an Amazon wish list. This allows me to post things they need or want. In addition, I have started asking for money instead of toys. We started bank accounts for both kids hoping this would allow people to think future and college for kids. Unfortunately we are only ones who are okay with kids not opening up mounds of gifts.
Yes! This reminds me of all the stories of buying your kids something expensive and that all they want to do is play with the box! I think it’s important to keep spreading the message. Eventually the people in your life will get it. Another idea is getting season passes to zoos, museums, water parks, etc, so the whole family can enjoy it. Unfortunately, we’ve ingrained our kids to open up mass quantities and a “paper” gift can fall a little flat. So the challenge is two-fold: teaching our kids and our friends and family a new set of values and intentions.
I love the pass idea to zoo or museums!