Amanda Moments
January 6, 2015

minimalism

I have hoarder tendencies. I hang on materialistic things for too long because of sentimental value, it’s still in good condition though I never use it or even like it, or I hang on to the thought that maybe someday I’ll want or need it for some obscure event. No, it’s not so bad I have to climb over broken computers and bags of garbage in my hallway, but my closet is overflowing with clothes, I have tons of trinkets on every surface (“for decoration”), too many DVDs that literally have never been watched and just too much stuff in general. And my virtual/electronic clutter is just as bad.

The more I hear about minimalism, the more it appeals to me.

The biggest argument that’s stuck with me is this: The more stuff you have, the more stuff you have to clean.

I also tend to believe the other argument that physical clutter can contribute to mental clutter. The more things you have, the more things you have to worry about. More than that, the more you clean and worry about things, the less time and energy you have to put into relationships, family, friends, hobbies and fun.

Why do we let material things take such hold over our lives?

Most every time I go to Target, I pick up at least one thing that I don’t really need just because. I’m impulsive and I love a good sale.

This has been weighing on me for awhile, and the more articles and blogs I come across singing the praises of minimalism, the more I think I need to pay attention, the more I feel called to give it a real shot.

Over the past year or so, I have done a few closet purges and donated several bags of stuff to thrift stores, but sadly I’ve hardly even noticed the difference. Those bags were needles in a haystack, and if I hadn’t been the one to remove them, I probably wouldn’t have ever realized what was missing. Which is also sad that I own that much stuff that when bags worth disappears, I can’t even tell.

So this year, I’m adding a new resolution/goal: To declutter as much as I can. With our goal of moving into a house by the summer too, the less we own, the less we have to move, which is appealing in itself. Why move lots of objects from one untouched place of the apartment into a new space where it will continue to sit and collect dust there? That seems silly. In the meantime, I hope to find time to slowly tackle places of the apartment and get rid of things as I come across them, and maybe on a free weekend, do purges and make noticeable progress on ridding the useless stuff from our house, and our lives.

I also can’t help but think of how it would be nice to have fewer belongings so that I can teach my future children that time with people and time spent pursuing passions and really living, matters more than physical possessions.

I know I will never be a true minimalist. I will never be able to stick to a true capsule wardrobe. I don’t have much desire to live in a tiny house. But I’d like to get a lot closer to those ideas.

I could use any tips you all have for helping me achieve these goals. One awesome question I’ve heard you should ask yourself is, ‘If I were shopping right now, would I buy this item’ and if the answer is no, out it goes. Do you know of anything else to help motivate and inspire?

33 responses to “My Feelings on Minimalism”

  1. tyson says:

    I am with you on this! While a huge change in our income has forced me to stop impulse shopping, I still see the remains from buying just one more thing, even if it’s on sale or from a thrift store. I think it’s helpful to involve all persons in the purging. You can’t be the only one with stuff lying around that’s not being used. Does your hubby need 17 tshirts? No. Have him take his top 6 and donate the rest. I also have our oldest son pick put toys every so often to donate to someone who doesn’t have one or many toys. Even though we have a baby boy as well, I have to stop telling myself he’ll love the same stuff and he’ll never get a toy for his birthday. Some baby gear will get donated if we have 10 of one thing. I also try selling some stuff on a local swap and shop to help generate some minimal income. If it doesn’t sell in a week or so, I donate it to our local food shelf and clothing store. I think the hardest part is being realistic. Does it fit? Have i worn it in 3 months? Do I need 8 cardigans? 🙂 having an attachment to material items gets you nowhere. I’d rather play tag with my family in my house and not have to leap over extra crap. Good luck!

    • I really like that you get the kids involved – that helps teach some good life lessons early on! I definitely want to be able to set a good example too, but first I need to get my own self in check.
      Cal’s definitely on board with this. He’s always wanting to throw stuff and I’m usually like, ‘no, let’s keep it. I might want it later,’ which of course I never do. When I told him I wanted to do another big purge, he offered to help go through the closet too and get rid of a few shirts and pants he has that can go. Which did make me feel kinda bad because he has so little to begin with compared to me. Probably 90-95% of the closet is all my crap, and I bet I only wear like 25% of it regularly. So sad. I’m feeling really motivated to get it under control though, so hopefully I can keep that up!
      I’ve never tried selling stuff online or through Facebook groups. Do you find it worth it? Once in a while I’ll bring my nicer clothes to Plato’s and see if they’ll buy them, but usually of a bag of 20 items, they’ll take one or two and pay me like $3, so that’s never worth it. I’ve stopped trying and just bring everything straight to the thrift store or the women’s shelter.

  2. I love this! good luck on your journey. I recently began embracing minimalism and it’s been going very well I even have a minimalism tab on my blog lol! Anyways, here’s a good tip especially for someone like you that’s just starting out and who is very sentimental. Any item that you struggle to get rid of, put it all in a box. store the box for 6 months (or less if u can do that) and then come back to it and ask yourself “see, did i need this, was it worth keeping, and did i even remember it existed while it was gone”. That should help a lot!

    • Thank you! Ooh, I’ll have to check out your posts on minimalism. Another blogger turned me on to a blog called Tico and Tina that are all about organizing and living minimalistically. I love reading success stories to motivate me to be better at it. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Whitney says:

    I’m obsessed with decluttering! It’s almost a problem. I will throw away anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. My husband on the other hand is a pack rat and wants to hold onto everything. We balance each other out. Good luck with this goal in 2015!

    • That is good you balance each other out! Have you ever tossed anything and then regretted it later? That’s my fear, if I get too bold with decluttering, is I’ll throw something I want or need without realizing it. But, that’s me being a hoarder right there, and if I really need something later, I can buy it again then, huh. Haha, talked myself through that.

  4. I’m the complete opposite of a hoarder, and almost to a fault. My method is this – if I haven’t worn it, used it, thought about it in a year, it goes out. No questions asked. I also do major clean outs about twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. My husband and I also usually have a bag sitting by our door that we can throw things in that we find we don’t need anymore. That tends to add up quickly!

    • That’s a really good idea – to have a bin set up all the time to throw things in to donate or get rid of. I admit, sometimes I’ll settle on getting rid of something, but just because I don’t already a bag of donations in progress, I’ll put the item back “to throw later,” which I always forget about. Silly, huh?! I just need to stop being lazy, so attached and be a lot more strict with myself.

  5. Meagan says:

    Oh girl I could have written this. I am trying to declutter my life as well, for all of the same reasons. I’m just taking it day by day and area by area. Small steps!

    • Clutter is just such a slippery slope. I tried small steps for a while, but I think I need to make big ones. I’m thinking about taking this next weekend and devoting it all to going through as much as I can. I was even thinking of taking photos of some items I’m in doubt about and posting them for feedback. Sometimes you just need an outside source to weigh in.

  6. TK says:

    Thanks for writing this. I have also got hoarding tendencies. Not so much with clothes (I’m very minimalist already in regard to clothes), but books and charges and devices.

    I find what helps me is moving a lot. You get rid of a lot when you have to pack it and bring it with you. I encourage you to use this home-coming to de-clutter and make a new start with the stuff.

    Also, check out the story of stuff: http://storyofstuff.org/

    • Hey, clothes is one battle won! That’s probably my biggest problem area of them all. Small trinkets next. Moving definitely helps! Cal and I have been in the same apartment for 6 years now, so it’s been awhile since I had to pack everything up. I know we need to crack down on our “stuff” before we get into a house for sure! Thanks for the tip, T:)

  7. I think the most decluttering and minimalism I need to do is on my computer–less websites joined, less games, less documents, etc.

  8. Oh girl and am in the boat with you too. I need to go through my house and just get rid of so many things. Things I’ve kept because “I might want it later” or “this napkin is from england” silly things. I don’t NEED them.

    • Oh yeah. I’ve gotten so many little gifts from even just acquaintances and old co-workers throughout the years and I’ve kept it all. I felt like I couldn’t get rid of it because So-and-So got it for me, but really, I literally have never used it, and honestly I don’t even like it. All those small little things really add up, and if it doesn’t have a purpose, there’s no reason to keep it. Detaching myself from the sentimental though is hard, but I think I can get over it by thinking practically. I feel really motivated this time around!

  9. I ask questions of everything I own: 1. Is it useful? 2. Is it beautiful? 3. Do I love it?

    And the answers have to be real – not just surface. Ideally items I pick up in the store these days hit all three or at least two. If they don’t, I tend to put it back down. As for things I already own, I ask these questions of them also. Whatever doesn’t show well answer-wise gets donated, recycled, or trashed.

    • I knew you’d have good feedback on this topic! Can I hire you to come over and help?! Like, a personal trainer for organizing. I need, like a drill instructor to yell at me and tell me that I don’t actually need to keep that keychain of Mickey Mouse I’ve had since middle school.

  10. Chelsea F says:

    This is a mini-goal for the year for me, too. I’m moving in with my boyfriend in the summer, and we both decided that in order to really start our life together, we each need to let go of a lot of things we’ve held on to but don’t use. We both have a desire to take up less space with “stuff” and use our space more efficiently. I quite literally have plastic tubs full of clothes I will never wear purely for sentimental value or crafty projects (I keep thinking I’ll make one of those t-shirt quilts…but that’s not happening anytime soon).
    One thing I tried to do to transition out clothes I have hanging in my closet is the hanger trick – hang all the hangers backwards, and correct them when you wear the clothes on that hanger. After a few months, get rid of all the clothes on hangers that are still backwards. It worked pretty well!

    • Oh, moving is SUCH a great excuse to evaluate your belongings are part with stuff that doesn’t have much value anymore. And when moving in with your bf, you both can get rid of some items you now would have two of and just keep the better one – that will help too!
      I’ve been wanting to try that hanger trick! I think I’ll switch out all my hangers this weekend when I try to purge my closet…again. Hoping for bigger success this time!

  11. You know I’m totally on the same page as you!!! I have SO much “junk” that it stresses me out just thinking about packing and moving again. The “would I buy this right now” question is very helpful, and then I start making excuses….I wish I had more advice for you, but I struggle just has badly! I’ll look forward to any new tips you discover and that actually work for you.

    • Oh yeah, I think you and I are a lot alike in this arena. It’s a continuous struggle, and I’ve done some smaller purges before, but I think I need to get really serious and do a BIG one soon, because I’m just not seeing an impact from the small ones yet. I’m definitely taking notes too and will be documenting my progress to write a follow up!

  12. good for you amanda! i just did this while i was back home (and filled with sentimental things) but i felt lighter afterwards.

    my husband is a super minimalist and if it were up to him we would just have furniture, dishes and our dog. not me…i fill every drawer because. i. can.

    it’s a source of argument for us.

    when i declutter, i have a few piles to put things in:
    1) definitely gone (giveaway)
    2) definitely keeping (and i need to have used it/wore it in the last 6 months)
    3) maaaaybe. i’ll come back to it in 24 hours.

    and i just wrote a blog post on your blog. stay tuned for the extended version haha

    • Oh yes, it’s really freeing letting go of things. I love the feeling, yet I struggle to let go. Ahh!! Oh, a pile for coming back to it in 24 hours is a good idea. Sometimes ya just need to sit on something and think if you really need it. I’ll keep that in mind this weekend when I attempt to purge. Thanks!

  13. JC says:

    I was in a very similar place a couple years ago, and after a trip to Ireland I made some big changes. Seeing how they lived in tiny little houses by our standards was really inspiring. So I came home and just started slowly getting rid of things. I made a goal to toss one thing a day for a year I had a couple bags in the basement that I filled up and at the end of the year I donated to tossed them. It also inspired me to do a few major purges. We (2 adults & a puppy) now live in a 750 SF apartment and it’s great!! We definitely aren’t minimalists, but we do have way less than we once did.

    • Oh yeah, I kinda forgot that! I remember going to Sweden many years ago and thinking how simple their houses were. Everything had a purpose and a place. What a concept! Ooh, I love the idea to toss one thing a day. That makes it seem so easy! Awesome tip.

  14. The concept of minimalism speaks to me SO MUCH! I’ve slowly but surely been working on getting rid of everything in my home that isn’t beautiful/useful/joyful, which I think is a good starting point. Also, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to start returning gifts I don’t like immediately instead of holding on to them because I feel badly returning them. My house is full of things given to me by other people, and the idea that it was ‘free’ makes me hang on to things I wouldn’t choose to buy myself – if that makes sense!

    • Oh, that’s a great idea! We should think of gifts as worth keeping only if we really love them or would have gotten it ourselves. I think a couple things is probably OK to keep aside from that, like if it’s a family heirloom, but otherwise if it’s not something we need, so much of it just adds even more clutter. I think the gifter would understand that.

  15. These are such great goals! You can so do it!

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