One recurring theme that we reflect on in our blog is the accumulation of and eventual removal of “stuff”. We live in a very materialistic society, and we are as guilty as the next person of acquiring things. In the past we have wanted to reduce the amount of clutter that we own, but simply have not been motivated to do it on a large scale.
We do not have a picture of what our basement looked like two years ago; it is too bad that we didn’t snap a photo because we know it would provide inspiration to those of you who think there is no way you could possibly downsize enough because you have too much stuff. We were so there. Our basement was ceiling to floor boxes, as well as assorted items tucked in between gaps. We have progressed from a packed basement to an empty basement; a fair “guesstimate” would be to say we have donated/thrown away/sold approximately 60% of our belongings to date. It is interesting, because many of the things we have kept from year to year are easily tossed into the Goodwill box, without a moment’s hesitation. They were worth keeping as we moved from house to house within the city, but they are not worth keeping when our move is measured in terms of weight, and we must reduce as much as possible.
We have put together some ideas which have helped us as we sort through our stuff. We hope that it helps to inspire you to downsize what you own. If you are planning a move in the next one to three years, trust us. It is never too early to start.
As you contemplate an item, ask yourself: “Have I used this in the past two years?” If the answer is no, ditch it. It is said that you use 20% of your stuff 80% percent of the time. Chances are this item falls into the 80% of your items that you never use. We recommend finding a place in your home where you can keep an empty cardboard box. For us it was in the closet in the front entrance foyer. This is your Goodwill box. Any item you don’t want, place in the box. When the box is full, take it to Goodwill. This eliminates the problem of putting items in the basement (or other place) to deal with ‘later’. Again, trust us, you do not want to sort through an entire basement-full of items that could have been dealt with right away. We have so been there, done that, and it’s not fun to spend hours and hours doing this.
“But I paid good money for it”, and “I might need it someday” are two common rationalizations that we use to hold on to our belongings. If it’s not an item that you love or use on a regular basis, it’s time to let go of the item. Consider whether the item is costing you money, in terms of storage space and/or maintenance. Would you be able to sell it on Ebay or Craigslist and recoup some of the original purchase price? If you hold on to every single item that you might need someday, can you reasonably organize it so that you know exactly where it is when you need it? Probably not. You’ll not only be storing an item, you’ll also be buying a replacement for it because you’ll have no idea where it is at the time that you need it. Just ditch it now and give yourself the added space.
For items that hold a special place in your heart, utilize your digital camera and take pictures. When you find it difficult to part with an item, it’s usually not because you want the item in question; you want the memory that is associating with seeing the item. Do not save every single paper that your child brings home from school; save a couple. Take pictures of the projects, then dispose of the projects. You can place the photos in an album; this will allow your children to see his/her projects more often than if they were stored away collecting dust, and will often last longer than the actual project itself. The key is to keep only a few favorite items, and photograph the rest.
We recommend writing goals that you want to accomplish, and break it down into baby steps. We look at it in pieces, because if we looked at everything that needed to be packed at once, it would be way too overwhelming. Concentrate on one area, and when completed, check it off your list. You will feel a sense of accomplishment as you progress down your list, and this will keep you motivated to continue on.
Please feel free to comment on ways that you declutter around your home, and what has helped you. Thanks for following us, and feel free to friend us on Facebook to follow our journey!