Monday, December 29, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Extra Stuff

For the past almost two years now, I've been on a slow mission to rid myself of extra stuff. I just taught my kindergartners the meaning of the word "extra" last week in the context of teen numbers, and how they are one group of 10, plus some "extra." Extra is the stuff beyond what we need to fill ourselves up. I use need lightly. I don't need my Kindle Paperwhite like I need food, but I use it on a daily basis. Max does not need his Little Tikes office/house thing that he borrowed from his BFF, but he plays with it every day and is learning how to climb, sort shapes, and open and close things with it. Stuff is inevitable, and that's okay.
I will never be a minimalist. I will read minimalist blogs, listen to their podcasts and at times (when I don't feel like cleaning and organizing)I will wish I was a minimalist. But I will never be one. That will not stop me from getting rid of stuff whenever possible. This is not a post about how to be a minimalist, you can find more about that from people much better at it than me. This is just what I have done so far. Maybe it will give you an idea or some motivation :)
I've read some books: 7- An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and Simplicity Parenting
I've read some blogs: The Art of Simple, Zen Habits, Be More With Less, and Our Little Apartment (Ashley wrote a great post about how to decide what to get rid of. I love her concept of "would I replace this item if it was lost?" If the answer is no, get rid of it.)
I've listened to some podcasts: The Art of Simple and Minimalism for the Rest of Us
I've gotten rid of stuff: In the past, I donated almost exclusively to Goodwill. But now, I have so many things I do with my stuff I am getting rid of. I still donate quite a bit, but I also learned about the many "Yard Sale" groups on Facebook where you can post items. I'm a member of an awesome "closet sharers" group for kids clothes/items. I have already sold multiple items on there. I also love to sell back my clothes (I haven't done any of Max's yet because we are not sure what our future plans for kids are). My favorite company is Twice. I've written about them before and I continue to think this is the best company for selling back clothes. I usually get $50-$80 back for a large bag of clothes and it honestly could NOT be any easier. I've also used Thred Up which is good for selling back cheaper quality brands (they take more brands and actually they take kids clothes too)- I only got $11 back when I sold to them, but most of the time I'd take no money to just get this stuff out of my house!
I've tried to lower the amount of stuff coming in: I've done a "No Buy November." I was a crazy researcher about baby stuff and tried not to get too much. Of course, this is relative, some people would say I have WAY more than necessary but I have borrowed a lot and given away or sold anything we didn't use. We have switched to event gifts with many family members. Overall, I've just looked more critically at items coming into the house and tried to not buy things that I didn't really love/wouldn't use a lot.
My motivation for doing all this is that I hate cleaning but I like to live in a reasonably clean space. My mom says everyone hates cleaning, but I think I hate it even more than the average person. I also hate not knowing where something is when I want it. I hate when thinking about stuff and where it is or where I'm going to put it occupies my precious time.
I still have a long way to go. In 2015 I want to get better at the 1 in, 1 out rule (I never do this and I need to). But I've started. I've started thinking more critically about what I really want to do with my space and what I want in it. For a girl who used to hoard an absurd amount of stuff under her bed as a child, this is a start :)
How do you keep clutter under control?


  1. I love the idea of selling clothes from home. I'll have to try that next time I do a clothing purge. Do you have a referral code so you get some kind of credit??

  2. Phil is most definitely a minimalist. He just really does not buy much and doesn't have any desire to buy things... which makes him very difficult to shop for. I do experience based gifts usually but sometimes I just want to wrap SOMETHING!

    One of my goals for 2015 involves purging, another is to employ a "buy one, give one away" approach to all purchases from clothing to books to kitchen gadgets! I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff over the last couple of years between my moves but there is more that can be done... I actually think I will throw out any Christmas decorations that I did not put up/didn't fit on my tree when I put my tree away as a start to the purging process. I will never be a minimalist, but the older I get, the less stuff I want to own!

  3. We donate mountains of stuff several times a year. We used to donate to Goodwill too, but recently I have tried to find "better" organizations that give to those in need. Our favorite is The ARC and then I also donated an entire carload to the Caring Closet in my school district so that our extras could go to local families in need. Because John works for adidas we have tons of shoes, sporting clothes, tshirts etc.We have too much of everything but we have both gotten much better and getting rid of stuff we don't need. We still have too much, but we are getting better. I have tried to sell through a local FB group I belong to, but since I technically live outside the boundary, I have to be willing to meet up in order to sell stuff and that is just really annoying to me. I usually end up donating because it's SO much work to sell.

  4. So a couple of years ago my mom bought me an iron. I NEVER used it so on one of my massive decluttering missions I donated it. Then like a year later she was back at the house and wanted to iron my curtains and was like where is your iron? Whoops. She never lets me live this story down and has since bought me a second iron (after making me promise not to give it away) and I still have never used it!!!

    Anyways, I definitely love the concept of donating, selling or just plain getting rid of stuff you don't need and I'm constantly decluttering and getting rid of stuff. I LOVE the online "yard sale" groups on Facebook as it makes it so easy to sell stuff! We definitely still have tons of stuff we don't really need and occasionally our house feels a bit cluttered to me (especially all the drawers that I just stash crap in) but overall I feel a lot better when I'm leading a slightly more minimalist lifestyle. Though I would never call myself a true minimalist either.

  5. I am a wannabe minimalist. Every few months I go through my stuff and get rid of some things, and I actually do not shop and/or accumulate new things very often, however, I still somehow have full drawers. I definitely have a lot less "stuff" than some people, but my weak spots are food, shoes, and books. Luckily, with my Kindle and the library, the books are not as plentiful, but the food and shoes just keep adding up! I usually just give my stuff to Goodwill, but will check out the sites you recommend next time!

  6. Our problem is we don't keep clutter under control. But, related to this topic, We asked Gavin's grandparents to minimize how much stuff they gave him around the holidays. We suggested experiences, rather than things. They didn't listen one iota on the experiences vs. things bit, but they did better with how much stuff they gifted. I consider this a work in progress (given this is something I've been wanting for years). I'm hoping we'll bring home even less stuff next year!

  7. I should check out these yard sale groups on Facebook. We have a ton of stuff at our house that we don't need AND I know there's loads of stuff at my dad's that we don't need anymore, either (and will be sorting through in the next few months!). I'm a huge fan of getting rid of things that we don't need, don't use or when I wonder "why the heck do we have it!?" I think I should dedicate one day a month to tossing these things.

  8. I go in spurts and I had a huge spurt over Christmas break. I gave myself some rules for this year. The first Saturday of the month I need to get rid of 2 bags. 1 to donate and 1 to pitch. And I'm picking different areas of the house. January was clothes, February is going to be books (ahhhh). I've also reorganized our pantry and donated food I have no idea why we bought that canned item ha. I have a garage sale every year. I use the fb groups. And also every Saturday, I pick a shelf in the fridge to pitch stuff. I need to go through my office or stuff I 'may' need and I need to get Isla's art stuff under control. Saving kid stuff takes up a lot of space but we also have no idea what we are doing sooo ha.