I've been reaching a tipping point lately. Maybe due to the sudden recognition of financial crisis. Maybe due to a slow and steady realization that our household chaos and clutter is due to, quite simply... and quite disgustingly obviously so, an overwhelming amount of stuff. Most likely both.
Things have been coming to a head on this front for a while. We have filled dumpsters (literally people) with junk, and donated van loads (many, many, times over) with donations. We have given away all our baby things, furniture, old computers.... and STILL we have more than we need. More, in fact, than we want. We have 3 bed frames alone, sitting unused, leaning against the wall of the basement, bins and bins and bins of things (who knows what), boxes of china and crystal (hardly ever used), furniture enough to literally furnish a second home. Literally. Things that all seem too *important* (due to value of one sort or another) to part with and yet QUITE clearly they are of no real value at all. If the house burned down would we even be able to account for a third (a sixth even) of the stuff we feel compelled to store in the basement? Unlikely.
I workout in the basement surrounded by all of our cast offs and off season clothes, christmas ornaments, excess furniture (much of it quite valuable... and for what?), misc odds and ends accumulated over our lifetimes. I've been known to actually have to step off the treadmill and weep (I'm serious) at the disgusting excess of our lives (most often prompted by a Tivo'd Extreme Home Makeover).
Mr F asked me the other day if I could really do what the RV family did. Could I really sell or donate ALL of our stuff? I told him that I could walk away from everything. And really I could. I have a very different feeling about our things since moving them. Having to pick and choose what to bring, and sweat and agonize over each and every decision... only to have it's *uselessness* made blatantly obvious by moving it has completely changed my point of view. I had for quite some time blamed our circumstance for our hoarding (which is truthfully our problem more than clutter is). We had moved multiple times before moving to our first house and moving boxes that had not been unpacked as they had been moved from apartment to storage to house was an unfortunate necessity. Then there were the family "donations" of cast off furniture, heirlooms (of varying quality), and ever growing (and multiplying) stores of baby clothes and toys, and a multitude of home wares and odds and ends.
Now a few disciplined people out there may have filtered through their belongings getting rid of one thing for every thing they took in... but I suspect the rest of you would have just crammed them into your basement storage rooms until they were so full you no longer knew exactly what all you had in there. I no longer feel bad about this. I don't think Mr F and I are lacking in judgment or discipline. I think we are busy and overwhelmed by life itself and that setting aside time to maintain our caches is about as likely as our setting time aside to go on a date. Which is... ahem... un fucking likely. I have no current intention of culling our stores... for one thing... some of it may be useful... for another thing I don't plan to stay here forever (remember?!!) and there are plenty of high quality things that could be put to use in another house. Our new basement is not a storage/living area so there is no spill over as had been the case in our old house. What is down there is down there.
At this moment we have, quite successfully, set up our upstairs in a way that is functional and accounts for what we need to have/want to have on hand. There are not over crowded cupboards and closets. Our things (even our toys) all have a well defined home. And that makes me happy. And I want to keep it that way. And that brings me to THE COMPACT.
The fact of the matter is that there is only one way to keep up with our stuff and that is to stop bringing any more of it in. I don't want or need to go all hardcore on our asses. We're not destitute (but with Kid's tuition we are getting pretty close... seriously), we don't need to start buying all our clothes and gifts at the Goodwill (just yet)... but we do need to be very careful with our spending. And the TRUTH is that we don't need ANYTHING. We are incredibly fortunate people. We want for nothing... and I'm not sure that is a good thing... in fact I'm pretty sure it's not.
Owning things and buying things makes me feel good... makes me feel better... for the moment anyway. But more often than not my impulse buys weigh on me. I've decided it may be possible that not buying things will leave me feeling happier longer.
You can read more about it HERE.