“I’m looking forward to living in a small space and not having so much stuff to worry about.”
My husband Ryan said this to me the other night at dinner and I agreed. Saying goodbye to our stuff won’t be sad. It will be a relief.
It’s not like we live a huge expensive lifestyle. We live in a small, thousand square foot home with only one closet and no basement or attic to fill up. We also spend very little money on things such as clothes, books, movies or other household items. We have only 8 plates, 6 forks and enough socks for 10 days. It is well known among out friends that we are cheapskates live a very frugal lifestyle.
And yet, we have so much stuff. I don’t even know where we get it all. Last year, we spent less than $100 on clothes, for the whole year, and yet I managed to fill 5-6 shopping bags with clothes that I didn’t want anymore and I still have more to get rid of. Last month I cleaned out our kitchen cabinets and filled 3 large garbage bags full of non-food junk that we don’t, and in some cases never, use.
I have always been concerned with getting rid of clutter because our place is small and we don’t have much storage. But now, as we are cleaning up our house for someone else to move in while we are in China, I just can’t believe how much we have accumulated over time. A lot of it feels necessary, important even, yet when I think about not having it for a year, I don’t miss it and even relish being away from it.
So why aren’t we happy? Why are we looking forward to getting away from all our stuff? If it’s making us so miserable why haven’t we gotten rid of it before?
Honestly? I don’t know.
But I do know how to get rid of it.
If you can live without it for a year, you probably don’t need it
We have a storage unit for our business, and we can put some stuff in there, but really, if we won’t need it for a year, do we actually need it ever? When I ask this question as I’m cleaning, more often then not, the answer is no.
If your house burns down, would you think about it?
Say the worst case scenario happened, your house burned down. Would you be upset if your entire collection of VHS tapes from the 90’s was lost? Probably not. If that’s your answer then toss it. If my house burned down, the thing I would miss most are my journals and old photographs. Aside from that I think I would have a hard time even remembering what was gone.
Are you holding onto it just for the memories?
I admit that I have a drawer full of t-shirts that are so old I can’t wear them anymore. Yet I still keep them. Why? Because the shirts have special memories for me. My Wallace and Gromit ‘Time for Tea’ t-shirt reminds me of the time I backpacked around Europe and danced all night in a club in Ireland. (I saw a guy wearing that shirt and I searched the entire European continent until I found it.) I wore that shirt for years, and now it’s threadbare and oversized. I still remember that club, and that trip, so why am I holding onto the t-shirt? It’s hard, but it’s time for it to go.
(If you absolutely cannot part with your old t-shirt you should think about having them made into a quilt. My friend Mandy does it and they look great, just call a quilting store, or your grandma, to find someone to do it.)
If you’re on the fence, box it up for one year
Sometimes you need a little encouragement to get rid of stuff. If you have something in your house that you never use, but just can’t get rid of, pack it in a box, seal it and write today’s date on it. Put it away (in your attic or storage unit) and leave it alone for a year. After a year has passed, get the box and throw the whole thing away. Chances are you don’t even remember what is in there, as you obviously haven’t even thought about it or needed the contents.
I hope that these tips help you out, but really, I’m writing them down for myself. I’m far from finished de-cluttering and it really, really helps to constantly remind yourself these basic tips, lest you fall back into the trap of, “Maybe I’ll use this someday!”