Category Archives: Decluttering

Making Changes

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on Making Changes

Life has been a whirlwind since I made the conscious decision to stay in this little house. The past seven years had been a holding pattern so I hadn’t invested much of anything into making this house look more like a home. There wasn’t any point in spending the money if I was planning to move, after all.

Along with the changes my old friend fear has raised its ugly head. Every single time I purchase something it rises, screaming at me to stop. What if you spend too much money? You’ll be broke! and What if you decide to move after all or get flooded there? All of the money you spend will be wasted!

I’m dealing with it. There is no point in shoving it to the side or burying it deep. I have to own it in order to move on. I’ve made the decision to live here, period. At most I’ll end up moving perhaps one or two more times for the rest of my lifespan; there is no sense in doing without the things I love and miss if I can afford them.

The first major task was to reorganize my computer area. It took up far too much space in my living room for the amount of storage it provided. I searched long and hard for a computer desk, one that would serve my small-space needs and be durable enough to last the rest of my life.

That was a bust. The commercially-available computer desks were either made of cheap composite wood that would fail in a few years or die miserably in a flood. The metal options had glass tops that would not hold up to long-term abuse…or my rambunctious grandson.

I decided to get creative. I located a wire metal pull-out shelf that could be mounted on my current wire shelf for sixty dollars and went to work. I pulled everything off of my gigantic shelf, rearranged the shelves, and converted it into a computer desk.

It’s absolutely perfect. My CPU is close at hand but out of danger and I now have space for my router and those annoying piles of paper that I allow to build up until I get around to scanning them for permanent storage.

Even better, I can shove my keyboard and mouse out of the way when I want to write something by hand.

Once that was complete I ordered a corner shelf to make up for the lost storage space. I made a mistake with that one; instead of ordering the heavy-duty NSF shelf that I intended I accidentally ordered a lighter-duty version of the shelf I wanted. It works but it doesn’t match up exactly and definitely doesn’t hold as much weight as I like. Since it was my mistake, I plan to use it until it dies and replace it with the shelf I originally intended to purchase. I see no point in returning something I ordered when it was my fault for not paying attention.

The kid decided she wanted a larger bed so we decided to save a bit of money in that area as well. Instead of the kid buying a full-size bed we just swapped out the sofa sleeper in the living room for her twin-sized bed. She gets to have a larger bed, and I get something new to sleep on. I placed one of my shelves at the head of it and plan to use it as a makeshift daybed/chaise lounge. In time I’ll locate some of those pillows that support you while you sit on a bed, but that will be farther down the road. In the meantime the kid gave me a few of her extra pillows since she has quite a collection. I pile them behind me when I want to sit up and read.

new bed

I’m rather exhausted at all of the changes so I’m currently taking a break. I’ve yet to clear off the table that I had used as a desk for many months. Since the table is smaller than the big plastic table on my front porch I gave the big table away so that I can shift the smaller table out there.

It will be nice to have more space on the front porch.

I’ve one more major purchase that I plan to make in upcoming weeks. I’m going to invest in one more shelf to hold the library of books I am rebuilding. I’ve missed my library so by golly I’m getting it back. I can’t count how many times I’ve kicked myself for eliminating it when when I minimized my possessions. While it made sense at the time (I moved six times in four years, after all) I miss it terribly. Ebooks and Internet sources cannot compete against just pulling a book off of a shelf to look up a word or reference something you’ve read in the past for this old-school girl. While I intend to limit my library to what I can comfortably store in the space I will assign to it, I’m getting it back. Period.

I’m including some pictures on this post to show my current progress. I am so thankful that this place is finally shaping up. I’ll be glad when I finsh with the big purchases, however. Despite the fact that I’m buying for long-term use, I really hate spending the money.

What changes have you made in your home lately? Please share your stories in the commenbs below.

stop button

Moratorium

Published / by Annie / 1 Comment on Moratorium

Everyone’s needs change over time. You may slow down or stop using an item, or you may start to use something else instead. It’s just a part of life.

For instance, I was a big fan of pencil and paper. I not only write copious lists, I also composed my book/blog drafts and kept a journal in paper format. To save money I stocked up on pencils and notebooks the other year when I caught them on sale.

Since then my needs have changed. My journals are now stored electronically, written in plain text format and stashed on my computer. I save photos, scanned papers, and other relevant items in an annual folder with the file names sorted by date. While I still use pencil and paper for my lists, my usage of these items has went down drastically.

While I’m delighted at the lower cost of maintaining electronic records, the change in my habits left me with a small stockpile of pencils, pens, and notebooks. Instead of having a year’s supply on hand as per my plan, I have a tote of supplies now that won’t get used up for several years.

Since the items will get used eventually it doesn’t make financial sense to eliminate them. In fact, I’m sure my daughter and grandchildren will make a dent in them over time even if I don’t. Even so, it would be stupid for me to add to my stockpile this year. A stockpile is only worth the time and expense when it actually gets used in a reasonable amount of time.

As a result I have now instituted a spending moratorium on certain office supplies. No more paper, pencils, or similar items will be purchased until we use up what we have.

Period.

It doesn’t matter if we stumble upon a cute little notebook with a funny little saying or a crazy-cheap sale during Back To School Season. I refuse to buy what I don’t actually need.

Spending moratoriums can apply to all areas of your life. If you have a sizeable collection of books, music, movies, video games, or whatnot that you haven’t used, it makes sense not to purchase any more until you’ve actually enjoyed what you already have.

If you have food in your pantry that is in danger of going bad, don’t buy more until you use it up.

If your closet is overflowing, stop buying more clothes!

That’s why we stay broke, folks. We spend money on crap we don’t need when we have more than enough already. It’s one thing to stock up on stuff we need and actually use, but when it gets to the point where we have more on hand than we can use up in a reasonable amount of time, we need to stop.

Buying for the sake of buying is stupid.

What areas of your life do you need to impose a moratorium on? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Evaluating My Possessions

Published / by Annie

My daughter and I make a point of going through all of our possessions at least once a year. This allows us to refresh our memory about the items we own, reorganize these items to better accommodate our current life, and to figure out what we need to buy (or not buy) for the coming year.

As we were sorting through one section my daughter held up a tennis racket. “Where did you get this?” she asked.

“I thought it was yours,” I replied.

Katie chuckled. “Me, play tennis? You’re joking, right?”

I thought for a moment. “Maybe Little D brought it over to play with when he spends the night,” I suggested, naming my grandson.

“If he did, I’ve never seen him use it,” Katie replied.

“Fair enough.”

With that, we eliminated the mystery tennis racket from our life. There’s no logic in keeping something that never gets used!

Regardless of how much or little you own, everyone should go through their possessions occasionally to make sure that they aren’t holding on to things they don’t need or use. Why store something if you don’t have to? Owning things for the sake of owning them is just plain stupid. Why spend your precious time and money hoarding useless crap?

This week’s challenge is simple. Go through one area of your home and eliminate everything you don’t need and use, then share the story of your success in the comments below.

Have a great day!

It’s Okay to Own Things

Published / by Annie / 4 Comments on It’s Okay to Own Things

It’s become fashionable to throw things away. Out with the old, to make room for the new. There are even groups out there that will help you get rid of your things and encourage you to eliminate as much of your stuff as you want.

I know. I was one of them.

In time I realized that the Minimalist movement had devolved into little more than a pissing contest; a competition to the bottom. “I’m better than you, because all I own fits into my backpack.”

“Tough,” someone might respond. “I got rid of my backpack last week.”

There is some good to be had in the Minimalist movement. If you find yourself overwhelmed with possessions, especially if you have reached the point that you are tripping over stuff, you might need to thin down.

However, unless you’re preparing to move house or backpack around the globe it’s not really beneficial to get rid of all of your things, especially if you use and enjoy them.

The trick is in the using. If you have a cabinet full of dishes that you’ve not touched in years, you might want to pass them on to someone who will enjoy and actually use them. It doesn’t make any sense to clutter up your life with a bunch of stuff you don’t actually use.

Now that I’ve decided to settle down in this little town I’ve allowed my possessions to increase as a result of my revelation. I enjoy reading so I collect interesting books when I stumble upon them for free or cheap. I keep a decent-sized collection of unread material now but as I read them, the ones that I know I won’t need for future reference are passed on to friends or donated to the local library.

When I stumble across a clothing stash that someone is giving away that actually fits (and is something I will wear) I add the items to my wardrobe. I discard the pieces as they wear out.

I don’t go crazy buying things but I do make room for things that come into my life that I will actually use. Since I have no intentions of moving in the near future (and I am nowhere near the point where I’m tripping over things), this allows me to increase my comfort level while saving money as well.

You should start doing this as well. Once you eliminate the things you really, truly, do not use, don’t hesitate to add something you will use to your collection of possessions if the price is right (preferably free, of course!).

Just remember that this isn’t an excuse to start buying everything in sight. If you have something that does what you need, use it instead of buying new. Just because you can own it doesn’t mean that you should.

Minimizing Relationship Stress

Published / by Annie / 8 Comments on Minimizing Relationship Stress

It’s painful to watch friends self-destruct, to watch them slide down the slippery slope of insanity. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. You’re unable to turn away. You reach out your hand, only to have it slapped away time and again. Either they realize they are slipping and don’t care, or they’re enjoying the ride. Regardless, you try to help.

Eventually you realize that this person is causing you misery. You dread your encounters. Instead of offering them another hand up, give them your foot–to shove them out the door of your life.

There is no shame in this. It is not beneficial to keep people in your life simply because they are friends or family when all they do is give you pain. Loyalty is stupid when the person in question bites the hands that feed them.

Minimalism is about so much more than stuff. It is about curating all aspects of your life to bring peace and tranquility. While you cannot eliminate all of life’s storms, you can reduce the day-to-day strain on your emotions.

Today I urge you to look at your relationships. Determine that one person you would be better off without.

Then let them go.

Second Chances

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on Second Chances

It dawned on me this morning that I have been blogging since early 2009. It started as an experiment after I got laid off because my friends told me that blogging was a BIG THING just to pass the time.

Long story short, I realized that I deleted almost eight years of my life just to defeat some hackers and protect my friends.

That is terrifying.

The worst part here is that I’ve got a backup of most of it. I could stick those back up if I could figure out how.

But you know what? I can either look at this as a loss or accept it for the second chance that it is. I now have the opportunity to completely start from scratch without the burden of my past.

It’s not really different from the time I tossed the things that would fit in my old van and moved across the state to start over. The only difference is that I lost my history instead of physical items.

When was the last time you started from scratch? Please share your stories in the comments below.