I wrote previously about My Struggle with Stuff, my challenges with materialism, consumerism, and accumulation. Apparently, I’m still thinking about it. I really want to master my stuff, rather than the other way around. Below are some of the things I’ve tried with varying degrees of success. Note that I don’t claim to have any sort of mastery in this regard. It is definitely a work in progress. Although I’ve read a lot about simplifying one’s life, I still have a long way to go.
- Substitute experiences instead of buying things. e.g. I go for a bike ride rather than buying something.
- Try to keep my home clean and organized such that everything has a place. Accumulations of extraneous stuff then become apparent.
- Purge my home periodically. I always keep a ‘things to get rid of’ box so that excess items have a convenient place. At least once a year, we go through each room to remove anything we don’t want. We purge our clothes twice a year with the changing of Vancouver’s two seasons (summer and wet).
- Hold a garage sale every couple of years. Donate anything that doesn’t sell to charity — don’t let it come back into the house.
- Try to buy things used.
- Rent or borrow things that I’ll use infrequently.
- Shop less. Never shop for recreation. Shop with a list at specific stores where I buy consumable items, rather than those that accumulate.
- When I buy something new, get rid of the thing it replaces (or something else if that isn’t possible). Ideally, nothing comes into our home without something else going out.
- And finally, I’m living for extended periods without my stuff. Perhaps more than anything else, this reinforces that I’m don’t need most of the things that have accumulated in my life to be happy.
A particular challenge for me are things that I already own that have value but that I don’t use (e.g. furniture, antiques, art, and other collectibles). Although we display some of these, the remainder sit gathering dust in the dark recesses of our home, unused and unloved. I find it very difficult to throw them out away because they have value, but even harder to find them new owners. Finding buyers requires non-trivial work. Taking them to auction or selling them on Craigslist apparently requires more effort than I’ve been willing to summon. And so they sit.
Do you struggle with stuff? What are some of the things you do to manage it?