So, we're on this minimalist trajectory over here. When we moved to Austin last July, we sold/donated a large percentage of our possessions. The act of looking for more and more to get rid of was really difficult at the time. But now? Zero regret. I don't miss a thing we "let go." The only furniture we moved to Texas was our box spring and mattress, a computer chair, and a bench. As we settled into our life and Texas (and started new jobs) we gradually added pieces of furniture that we love, so our apartment went from "empty" to "spare" to "minimal."
My thoughts on the current state of our home:
- I don't miss the extra stuff.
- Cleaning and keeping our home tidy is much easier than it used to be.
- Little details make a big impact in an uncluttered space. New toss pillows or a different afghan on the couch completely alter the feel of the room (and likewise, if I want to change up the decor, it's not a big ordeal)
- If we buy something new, we're not usually faced with the question of, "Where will we store this?"—typical apartment space constraints aside. We purposely leave a few drawers empty.
- We don't want to buy things that we'll only use in a future space...only to have to store them for now. Also, we don't need to buy things that will only fit with our current home—we're renters, so this isn't our permanent space, and we'd rather buy furniture, etc. that we want to move with. (Examples: our side table is on wheels, so we reposition it to function as a coffee table, and we have benches at our kitchen table that could later be used in an entryway, or at the foot of a bed)
- The process of decluttering and tidying isn't ever "done." For example, in the picture below, I have some pretty green ceramic measuring cups that were stored in a box and regrettably forgotten about. No more! Now, I'll make use of them. The pile on the right is camping stuff that needs to be put away. I just needed to take less than five minutes and do it. (now it's all put away). If I put off decluttering, I'm only making more work for myself. It's an ongoing process, but it does get easier and more intuitive.
We've realized that items have to "earn their keep," or in other words,
Our space is more valuable than our possessions.
Overall, when we do decide to buy something, we're thinking more about longevity and quality. In the past, I'd spend $50 on clothing without blinking (all these items were on sale) but then I would say, "I can't afford to spend money on that concert ticket, or that day trip, or insert fun experience here. I put more value on what I could hold in my hands than what I could hold in my heart and mind. We're learning that our money is better spent on experiences rather than items.
Despite these (huge) realizations, old habits die hard. I have to fight the urge to replace what we get rid of. A nagging thought crops up in the form of, "We made space, so now let's fill it with something new." Not only is this cycle of "purge then replace" counterintuitive and showing of a lack of self-control, it also indicates the pervasiveness of the idea that we will somehow be happier or more complete if we have _____. This is a destructive concept that will bankrupt your bank account and your heart. When we're so preoccupied with stuff, there is less time for people we love and God-honoring pursuits.
My mom recently sent me this excerpt from a book she's reading, and it sums up my feelings on the subject completely:
"A person without self control is like a house with it's windows and doors knocked out." (Proverbs 25:28) Once you've pared down your possessions or blessed someone else with your abundance, you must not purchase more items to replace what you've sold or given away. This requires extreme self-control. Self control is a hedge around your soul.
Cherie Lowe, Slaying the Debt Dragon
Practically, we're choosing to do these things:
- Avoid temptations. No unnecessary excursions to stores "just to look." I never knew I needed ___ at J.Crew, until I saw it perfectly paired with the rest of the outfit on the mannequin. Also, ideally, I avoid online shopping unless I'm actually trying to fill a need.
- Make sure that if I buy an item of clothing, it can be incorporated into what I already own to make several new outfits. At some point, I may do a capsule wardrobe.
- Have a place for everything. This can take time and dedication to find organization that is functional.
- Buy reusable whenever possible. Most disposable items have very little monetary return.
- Follow the mantra of "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."
Biggest take-away thus far?
Don't let the things you spend money on own you and remember that all of this is a work in progress.