Take a look around your home. What do you see? Is it filled to overflowing with the latest gadgetry, books, toys, clothing, kitchen equipment etc. Is every surface of your home cluttered with pictures and ornaments that take hours of dusting? Have a look in your shed. Is your car parked outside because your shed is full of so much stuff that you just can’t fit your car in there? Take a walk down your street and glance into the open sheds of your neighbours. What do you see there? I bet you any money that every second house you walk past will have a shed full of ‘stuff’ and their cars, that are worth far more than the stuff in their sheds, are parked in their driveways or on the street.
Take a look around your local industrial area and count how many self-storage businesses there are. We have two right across the road from our house and we are in a largely residential area. According to National Storage 1 in 25 Australian households currently utilise self-storage. The self-storage industry itself experienced growth of 20% in 2013. This tells me that we have far to many possessions in our lives and need to find alternative places to store them.
So what is all this ‘stuff’ that we accumulate and why do we keep it?
1. SENTIMENTAL VALUE
This I think would be the number 1 reason that many people hang on to things that they have no use for. I am guilty of this myself. I have several items in my home that I have kept for many years because they were gifts from my parents and other family members on special occasions, such as my 21st. Only recently I threw out the decorative icing topper off my 21st cake. I had been carting it around with me for 29 years! I also had the decorations off my parents 40th Wedding Anniversary cake. I have no idea what I thought I might do with those as I won’t celebrate my 40th wedding anniversary until I am 76! So, I got my camera out, took some lovely photos and tossed them in the bin. And let me tell you it felt no guilt. It made room in my pantry and gave me a sense of relief to know that when we next contemplate moving I won’t have to worry about packing it.
I have lot’s of serving platters and casserole dishes as well. I rarely use this as we don’t entertain nor to we have a large family that descends on us for Christmas or other special occasions, so I am in the process of going through these and they will be going in a garage sale soon.
2. BUT IT MIGHT BE WORTH MONEY
This is a great excuse to keep something. The lure of money. The trouble is it’s not worth any money if it’s sitting in your cupboard. It’s only worth money if you can actually sell it. And the fact of the matter is that what we may think is valuable, may not be valuable to anyone else. But if you are not using it and it is taking up room in your home and you can sell it for $20 then that is $20 in your pocket and more room in your cupboard. I recently sold a small collection of vinyl records that I had kept even though I had got rid of the rest of my collection about 3 years ago. I kept them out of sentimentality but realised that I had absolutely no use for them as I don’t even own a record player anymore. I made $180.00 on 15 records. Again money in my pocket and more room in my cupboards.
3. BUT IT MIGHT COME IN HANDY
This one possibly applies to the men in our lives more than us girls. You know all those tools and bits and pieces that accumulate in the shed. This is all well and good if your man is actually a handy kind of a bloke. I’m lucky as mine is, so I know if I ask him to fix something that pretty much everything he needs will be in his shed. Me on the other hand – not so much. I have a box of sewing material sitting in a cupboard. It has been there for about 10 years. I had good intentions of making something out of it, but have never got around to it so that box will be going out the door as well. My thoughts are if you haven’t used it in the last year you are not likely to!
4. IT WILL MAKE MY HOUSE LOOK GOOD
We all want to live in a nice house surrounded by nice things, but I think it is easy to fall into the trap of acquiring those things in order to fit into a social class. Society has become very consumer oriented and every weekend the shops are filled to overflowing with people searching out the latest bargain to put in their homes. Sure your friends and family may admire all the lovely things in your home, but when you are long gone what will your kids remember you for? The beautiful things you had in your house or the awesome weekends you spent at the beach or kicking the footy in the backyard. I hope that is what my kids remember me for.
So why am I now starting to focus so much on my possessions and there worth to me as a person? It’s because I have come to the realisation that this ‘stuff’ does not define the person I am. I am and always have been a simple girl at heart, and although I have often times tried to keep up with home decorating trends and current fashion it’s just not me and usually the things I do just don’t work.
When we first moved out of our family home in 2012 we shared a house for a short while. I had to condense a 4 bedroom house plus study and two living areas into 3 bedrooms and one living room. I knew that in order to do this some things had to go. I still have a couple of boxes packed from that move even though we have now lived in our current house for 2 years. I figure that as I have had no need for the contents of those boxes in that time, that I can safely get rid of them.
The other reason I am starting to think about paring down our possessions is that we want to travel Australia when the kids finish school (READ MORE HERE) and I only want to have a couple of boxes of really precious items to put in storage when we go.
So this year I am learning to live with less. I am refusing to buy anything new for the house unless an item is broken. The same applies to clothes. I have the basics and as I wear a uniform to work I think I can get away with not buying a whole lot more this year.
If you want some more ideas on how to streamline your possessions visit Becoming Minimalist a great website I discovered a few weeks ago that explores all the possibilities for living without so many possessions.