Most of us have stuff – lots of stuff. We save stuff because we think it has value – monetary or sentimental. Our things, which we’ve accumulated over the course of our lives, are part of our identity. And we associate having lots of stuff with success. But there comes a time, often when we have to take responsibility to disposition a lifetime of stuff that our parents collected, when we ask “do we really need to hang on to so much stuff”?
That happened when my sisters and I had to get rid of an entire house worth of stuff that my mom had accumulated over decades. In her mind, some of her things had monetary value and others she kept to pass on to us. We discovered that she vastly overestimated the monetary value of things such as hummels, knickknacks, furniture, jewelry and clothes. She also miscalculated our desire to populate our homes with memorabilia that we had managed to live without for many years. That experience turned me into a proponent of decluttering.
9 Reasons to Declutter
- No one cares about my old report cards, notebooks, photos, trophies, projects, toys and personal possessions. Heck I don’t even care about them. Why pass the burden of how to get rid of all my stuff to someone who has no attachment?
- The process of decluttering forces you to figure out what is important. It also gives you a chance to say good bye. For example, I recently came across an old personal journal. I read through it and found it depressing. So after briefly reliving those years (yuk), I decided I didn’t want to go back there again. So I tossed it which felt great!
- Decluttering frees up space for other purposes such as displaying artwork or appreciating a particular living area.
- Getting rid of stuff can improve safety (such as eliminating household hazards).
- It makes house cleaning easier.
- You can make a few dollars. For example, we took old record albums to a store that sells them on the cheap. We made a few bucks and have not missed them one bit.
- Getting rid of paper is good for safeguarding your identify and the environment.
- If you decide to move it will be easier and cheaper.
- You can help others by donating your unwanted stuff.
Decluttering and FIRE
Decluttering is popular within the FIRE movement. And it’s not just the minimalists who feel this way. FIRE is about designing your life. This means living according to your values and not how we’re conditioned to think (which a big reason why we have so much stuff). Decluttering emphasizes another important practice in the FIRE movement – knowing when you have enough. Acceptance of having enough is liberating and cathartic. Most important, giving up pursuit of the material opens the mind to the pursuit of purpose and a more meaningful life.
How to Declutter
Interested in decluttering? Here are a few ideas to get started.
- Switch to paperless billing.
- Set up a box to collect documents for shredding.
- Donate unwanted books, clothes and other things.
- Select a month to be your decluttering month. I use December because it ties in nicely with donations. Then I get rid of as much stuff as I can.
- Identify two boxes in your closet and then challenge yourself to combine them into just one.
- I threw out every photo that did not have a person in it. Then I scanned those that I really want to keep before I threw out the original.
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