Last year, some time before Christmas, my wife and I got serious about de-cluttering our home, going through out belongings and simply getting rid of things we don’t use. We either gave them to others or donated to charity. Despite the many loads of Christmas decorations, books, and clothes we handed off, you could hardly tell we had begun to de-clutter. We really aren’t hoarders, per se. We’ve periodically gotten rid of excess “stuff” before, either donating or selling at yard sales. And yet we still own so many things.
So we’ve just gone through the storage room and a closet and pulled out more things to donate: more books, old electronics, camping gear, more clothes, even a few pieces of furniture. Only now are we starting to see the difference. Sooner or later, we’ll move into a smaller home and hopefully own even fewer things. But the key to owning fewer things lies not only in de-cluttering and giving away or selling one’s excess belongings, but to stop buying things in the first place. It doesn’t do much good to move stuff out if you’re always moving stuff in.
What I have decided is that I am no longer going to buy anything that takes up space unless it’s replacing something that is either worn out or broken. It’s quite telling of just how consumer-driven our culture is when you have to literally make yourself not buy things, and I honestly don’t consider myself a materialistic person. It’s amazing how much money we spend over the years on things we don’t really need. It makes me wish we could go back and undo all those purchases and keep the money we spent.
Next we’ll go through the garage and pull things out we no longer use. We’re a rarity in our neighborhood. We actually park both our cars in our garage. Most of our neighbors use at least half of their garage for storage. And yet there is still so much in ours that it demands to be de-cluttered as well. The process of de-cluttering, of reducing your possessions down to just the things you actually use, is quite literally a years-long endeavor. But you have to be serious about it. This means not hanging on to things you don’t use because you might use them in the future. Sometimes you might have to break with something that’s just a little bit sentimental. So far, there’s nothing we have given away or sold that I miss. I much prefer the empty space.