Photo via Pinterest
Happy Wednesday! Did you get a chance to watch the video from my last post? Take a few minutes (well, 9) to do a quick tour of my closet(s). Back in January I read an amazing article on the blog Living Well Spending Less about living without clutter and I haven’t been able to get it off my brain. What really struck me was the reference to older homes and their small closets. When my husband and I first bought our 1950s home, we definitetly noticed how small the closets were, but I remember stating, “If this woman [previous owner] with all these shoes can live here, then so can I!” The only problem with this statement was that there were shoes in the coat closet. In otherwords, there were too many shoes! When older homes were originally built, people didn’t need large closets because they didn’t have a lot of stuff. Why didn’t they have a lot of stuff? They bought what was vital for survial, not what they saw, liked, and decided they “needed.” If you haven’t read the whole article (which you really, really should), I’ve recapped it here with my favorite points:
- As 21st century humans, we crave space. Storage. Room. But the problem isn’t that we need space, the problem is that we have too much stuff.
- For most of us, our grandparents (and maybe event parents), simply didn’t have all of the “things” we have now because they simply didn’t have access. There were no Targets, Walmarts, and drugstores on every corner. What they purchased and filled their homes with was truly what they needed.
- What creates “need” in the 21st century? Seeing. Liking. Rationalizing. How many times have you taken a trip to Target for one thing, only to leave with 20? We joke about it, but we are “drawn in to all the pretty, shiny, things. An adorable shirt…A pillow that would be perfect on my living room couch…Some darling limited edition notecards and plastic wine glasses at 50% off–such a good deal!” How man times have we said, “I need this!” But what we are really doing is using “need” instead of “want.”
So how do you stop “needing” mindless things? I loved the author’s words so much here that the bullets are hers. The explanations are mine.
- Stop the flow. This most likely will mean different things for different people. For some, it will mean an all or nothing approach – no Target, no thrift stores (yikes), no browsing or window shopping. For others, it may mean making more conscious decisions about purchases. This is really about mentally knowing what you need and why you are choosing to fill your closet and your hone with certain items.
- Relentlessly purge. Get. Rid. Of. Excess. Why do we hang on to so many things? Emotional connections? The thought that we one day will need those empty mason jars and empty candles votives (guilty as charged)? This can be very hard because we are conditioned to save, to reuse, to repurpose. And this is great, but we have to be careful not to cross into the line of hoarding or keeping things that make our lives cluttered.
- Set strict limits. Again, this will mean different things to different people. But it’s about knowing what you need and discouraging excess items. Do you have 5 black skirts you never wear when 2 would suffice? Do you have tons of cooking equipment when you just need the essentials for what you use? This is most readily apparent in getting or giving gifts. Remember Christmas as kid with the tree filled with toys? It’s good to get and give gifts, but setting limits helps avoid clutter.
- Value quality over quantity. I love this one because it gives me a reason to invest in designer goods. But seriously. I love to thrift because I can find good deals for a steal. But this gets me in trouble because even thrifting, I wind up with so many deals that I cluttered my home. I can get high and mighty saying, “I only shop thrift or 2nd hand,” but even some of those cheap thrifted items I’ve gotten rid of. Why not make quality purchases the first time around (for anything) instead of constantly being faced with clutter?
What do you think of the article (or my summary)? I’ll be back Friday with some challenges and action items. I hope you will join me!
Note – none of these links or these series of posts is in any way sponsored. I just love this concept and it’s a natural flow to go from not shopping retail with a focus on 2nd hand to cutting down on “stuff.”