Lately it feels like stuff is taking over our lives. The drawers on our dressers don’t close easily. The closet is a disaster. Every outing brings home new items – either papers or freebies or stuff we don’t really need.
Less is more, I’ve been telling myself. And I did declutter our messy pantry. But there is so much more for me to do to declutter our home.
When you are a self-proclaimed cheapskate, it is difficult to purge things. Used and worn-out items may have a new life in another form. Other things that sit unused in a cupboard or closet are nice to have on hand “just in case.” In the back of my head I hear things like, “It’s good to be prepared,” and “if I had to go out and buy this later, it would be expensive” and “Waste not, want not.”
She writes that a true minimalist only keeps what is absolutely necessary and useful. But what is useful? She writes, “That depends on what you consider useful, and why you consider it useful. If we’re talking about physical usefulness, yes, I could probably part with another half of what I own, but if we’re talking about things that make you whole, then no, I could not.”
Some things that you own may not be appear useful to others, but if they contribute to your psychological well-being, a personal memento or a piece of art, or a special book, are worth having around.
I think the key to embracing the less is more mantra and to keep stuff from taking over is to find a balance. That means only buying what you absolutely need or truly love, and only keeping those things that are of great value to you.
I also think the key to keeping stuff from taking over, is to not let things into the house to begin with. A post from one of my very favorite sites, The Non-Consumer Advocate, had me thinking about how quickly we rush out to buy things when a “need” arises.
The site’s author, Katy Wolk-Stanley is the frugal person I want to be when I grow up. She’s been following The Compact, pledging to buy only used since 2007, and doing a fabulous job of inspiring folks to do the same. She is not what I would call a minimalist; instead she is incredibly intentional about what she brings into her home.
In her post Think Twice and Maybe Even a Third Time Before Buying New, Katy talks about needing more hangers for her son’s extensive soccer jersey collection, but rather than buying new ones, she finds some tucked away in her home. “I feel strongly about not supporting unnecessary manufacture of new goods, especially plastic ones with a limited life span.”
She writes, “By following The Compact and only buying used, I have a buffer zone between myself and the buying of new or even used items. I have to think twice before I make a purchase, and because it’s a pain in the tuchus to find specific used things, it sparks my make it do creativity.”
Just think how much better the planet would be if more of us took that approach! It got me thinking about all the bargain hunting I do and how many “awesome deals” and “super cheap” bargains just add to my overwhelmed closets, detract from the beauty of our planet, deplete my savings, and just aren’t even necessary. I’m looking at you, Target clearance!
Keeping stuff from taking over could be as simple as not letting it into the house to begin with. You don’t have to bring home every brochure that’s pressed into your hand. You don’t have to peruse the dollar section at the store to see what’s new. Shopping doesn’t have to be a form of entertainment.
Less stuff equals more peace. I think I could live with that.