As a follow-up to my post from earlier this week, I want to explain one of the main downsides to having a smaller house (storage space) and how we’re dealing with it. Because when your family is growing, and your space is shrinking… that can present a challenge. However, what we’ve discovered is that the challenge has less to do with the space we have in our home, and more to do with the space between our ears.
My background is in computers and technology, and my wife’s background is in literature. Conveniently, these areas also happen to be hobbies for us. The fields of computers and literature are inundated with talk of the latest gadgets and books, respectively. One of my toughest tasks is reigning in my desire to have the latest and greatest tech toys on the market. Now, some of those gadgets are necessary for what I do for a living (i.e. my laptop and smartphone) but others are just toys. Some examples of these, in my case, are tablets, stereo equipment, wireless technologies like Bluetooth speakers or headphones, home servers and media storage, LED TVs, media streaming devices, and much, much more. These are the devices I read about, keep tabs on, and end up developing some level of desire for.
My wife, on the other hand, is much more classy and refined than I am. Her passion is books, both new and old, and we tend to accumulate them at a rapid pace. She’s very good about buying them secondhand through library book sales or used book stores, so I can’t complain about that. Her books are WAY cheaper than my gadget addiction.
One of the decisions we made when we planned our home downsizing was to “own less stuff”. We had become attracted to living a simpler lifestyle and keeping less clutter around the home. Now, that’s an easy decision to make when you’re looking around at photo frames, indoor potted plants, coffee tables and magazines. But it becomes slightly more difficult when you start examining the expansive bookshelves and drawers full of electronics that filled up our home.
We Decided The We’d Rather Have A Tidier Home
As we looked at all the books and electronics and talked it through, we came to an astonishing agreement. We didn’t really want to have to keep all this stuff around. It takes up space, it takes money and time to store and organize it properly, and we generally don’t use it very much once it reaches the “put it away” stage. For example, those software titles that I’m done with “for now” are probably not going to be pulled out again. Ever. Those books that my wife has finished reading? Very unlikely that she re-reads most of them anytime soon.
So we started boxing things up and taking them to Goodwill, or to yard sales, or giving them away to friends and family (ha! suckers!). As we did this, we started realizing more and more that we were making the right decision. Our home was neater, less “stuff-filled”, and more organized. We began eliminating bookshelves from the house and junk from boxes and drawers. Then, when we moved into our new (smaller) house, we had much less trouble finding a place for the things we really needed.
We Calculated The Cost Of Repurchasing
Some of the decisions in this clutter-cleaning process were tough! What if we need some of these items again? What if the computer part that I absolutely have to have isn’t around here? What if we have to *gasp* buy something a second time?! In hindsight its easy to see, but at the time those decisions were hard to make. We kept reminding ourselves that we would be paying money (at some level) either way– to store more stuff in our home or to purchase it a second time if the need arose. That made it a little easier to get rid of more things than we would have otherwise.
And you know what? Since that move there hasn’t been anything, that I’m aware of, that we’ve had to repurchase! Maybe a certain computer cable or something cheap like that, but nothing that’s given us any heartburn whatsoever. If my wife absolutely wants to grab a book that she used to own, she can do that through Amazon or Barnes and Noble online (using the Kindle or Nook apps), so it’s not something we have to worry about. Having a sparsely decorated, neat and tidy house has been more than worth the effort of waging a war on stuff.
Now, it hasn’t been totally easy since then– we still have to revisit our drawers and bookshelves, nooks and crannies every couple of months and take a box to Goodwill (or the dump), but since our mindset has changed regarding the benefits of eliminating stuff from our lives, the everyday decisions have become much easier for us.
What about you? Is the war on stuff an area that you struggle with, or do you have no problem eliminating clutter from your home?
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