Ditch Your Stuff!

my own picture, to be added to cookware and ba...
Image via Wikipedia

We recently spent three eight-hour days doing the job we had put off for a decade — clearing out our rented storage locker. (Confession: some of it went into a smaller space, the rest of it into the garage. And, yes, there are four small lockers with other stuff — out of season sports gear and clothing, suitcases, etc.)

In so doing, we immediately saved $150 a month in rental fees, plus the $350 we netted for selling 24 boxes of books.

Here’s a thoughtful New York Times piece about what museums, so politely call, de-accessioning:

A two-bedroom apartment. Two cars. Enough wedding china to serve two dozen people.

Yet Tammy Strobel wasn’t happy. Working as a project manager with an investment management firm in Davis, Calif., and making about $40,000 a year, she was, as she put it, caught in the “work-spend treadmill.”

So one day she stepped off.

Inspired by books and blog entries about living simply, Ms. Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, both 31, began donating some of their belongings to charity. As the months passed, out went stacks of sweaters, shoes, books, pots and pans, even the television after a trial separation during which it was relegated to a closet. Eventually, they got rid of their cars, too. Emboldened by a Web site that challenges consumers to live with just 100 personal items, Ms. Strobel winnowed down her wardrobe and toiletries to precisely that number.

Now the couple, debt-free, lives on $24,000 a year.

It’s not a new idea, living on less, although it’s rapidly gaining currency. In a 1992 book, “Your Money Or Your Life”, Joe Dominguez and Vicky Robin pointed out you’re spending time or you’re spending money. Save one, and you save the other.

I’ve chosen, deliberately, to stay in a one bedroom apartment for 20 years. In flush years, I could have traded up to something bigger, maybe even a house. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want: to buy a lot of stuff to fill it with; maintain and clean all that stuff; clean gutters and shovel sidewalks or mow a lawn; the daily anxiety that, if I lost that job or income or client(s), I’d lose it all. Even in the leanest times, and they have gotten lean, I could manage to stay in my home, building equity.

I loathe debt.

We drive a nine-year-old car, paid for.  We are trying hard to find new and better ways to earn and save in order to pay down the mortgage as soon as possible. In line with popular sentiment, we’re now much more focused on experiences over stuff. We threw a party and invited friends to celebrate the completion of my book. The money we spent for food and drink that night might have bought two of three pairs of shoes or 10 new or 20 used books or CDs or…more stuff.

These days, I want more life and less stuff in my life.

And yet, and yet…how does one turn a blind eye to all those delicious temptations?

Have you downsized? Plan to? How has this changed your life?

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 thoughts on “Ditch Your Stuff!

  1. Doug

    I’m busily downsizing, cutting out things that weren’t necessary or that seemed necessary. It’s made me less charming.

  2. I like what I have and will work to keep it! But my wife wants to retire in two years from teaching and although her retirement income will be 65% of her current income we will be without the great health benefits (that keep getting cut) like dental and vision. Can you do without FIOS Hi-Def tv? The IPhone that I love? DSL? My business phone and fax? We’re up to almost $400 a month in communications costs. Cars? In SoCal you’re lost without two sets of wheels. So close, so close to buying a 32GB IPad at the Apple Store in Santa Barbara last week. Not buying it was a victory for me. Tom Medlicott

  3. I agree. It’s tough to let go of higher-end lifestyle easers like these; they start (shriek) to become necessities, but who wants to pay that much?! That’s almost $5,000 a year.

    I have an Itouch and cellphone, but would happily do without either; the sweetie bought both. When he retires, and would love to do so sooner rather than later, we’ll have to face all these choices as well.

  4. in line with popular sentiment, we’re now much more focused on experiences over stuff. – congratulations on successfully going beyond the norm. there is just too much consumerism nowadays; too much stimuli to buy….ur lifestyle is an inspiration:)) do keep it up…all the best on the mortgage thing”))

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s