As a simple living aficionado, I embrace the less is more mentality. That means having less stuff and feeling all the better for it! To effectively practice this mindset, I am always decluttering, not just when spring cleaning rolls around. Last year, I adopted the simple living habit of throwing out, donating, or selling one thing every single day. I find it’s easier to chip away at a decluttering goal this way. Plus, the payoff of having 365 fewer things cluttering our house after a year is HUGE!
The Evolution of This Exercise
You may be wondering what exactly got me started on this simple living habit, and there’s certainly a story to tell. We moved from a much larger house to our fixer-upper farmhouse about four years ago now. We had a big garage sale in our old neighborhood before we moved, and then we stored all the stuff that didn’t sell and that we didn’t want to part with for a few months. Renting storage got old pretty quickly, though, so we moved all that stuff into our barns, basement, and attic.
The Problem with Storing Stuff
Our intentions were good and we thought it made sense at the time. The idea was to unpack it all as we finished up rooms. Unfortunately, many of our remodeling projects got started then stalled. Then our daughters went to college and everything that they didn’t want to part with sat around too. Finally, out of sheer frustration, we started realizing that we needed to do something about it. And quickly, for that matter. We were tired of hanging on to things when it became clear that we wouldn’t be using them again anytime soon. Or ever again for that matter. Not to mention it felt like our basement and attic were overflowing.
Growing up, I never had excessive amounts of anything and neither did Matt. It’s easy to fall into the trap of telling yourself you may need that thing you’ve held onto because you may need it “down the road.” But the truth is, you usually don’t. And then you just start accumulating things you’re never going to use or simply no longer need because you feel bad about getting rid of them. They end up taking up valuable space, creating clutter, and gathering dust. After I started this simple act of giving away, selling or throwing away one thing a day, I came to the realization that it’s extremely rare for me to regret it. Instead, I focus on how they will be perfect for someone else, and not me. That’s been very liberating!
Reduce, Reuse, Repeat
It’s not feasible for me to go to Goodwill every single day with the one item that I’m letting go of. Instead, I set aside a large donation box that everything goes into, and then I drop it off at the end of each month. Here are a few examples of things that have gone in the box. The cute shoes that gave me blisters. A glass urn that sat in the attic for three years. A gourmet cookbook that’s filled with complicated recipes requiring specialty ingredients that I don’t really want to buy. Same for the mismatched mugs that have been cluttering up my kitchen cabinets.
Now, I want to make it clear that I am not one to just throw away things that may be useful to someone else. So if I have something that’s in good shape, I start by asking our daughters if they want it, then I’ll move on to other family members or friends. For example, one of my daughters wanted some wine glasses for entertaining friends and I had more than what I needed. Done! She saved money and I was able to get rid of a set I didn’t need.
Items of value that family and friends don’t want or need get listed on Facebook Marketplace and then donated if there are no takers.
The Long-Term Benefits of this Simple Living Habit
Adopting this simple living habit has been a game-changer for me. For one, it’s changed the way I shop. I find I don’t buy anything these days on a whim or just because I can. My focus has shifted to having a house that’s filled with things I truly love and that give value to my life, not the impulse purchases of my past. Better yet, though, having less stuff just lets me breathe a little easier. My cabinets and closets are neater. I know where everything is. And I don’t “rediscover” things that have been buried away in an attic corner for two years.
Take it from me, deciding to have less really is more, so grab a box. I’d love to hear your thoughts on decluttering. Did it open up your eyes too? Have you adopted a different mindset about the needless things you may be holding onto? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.