Human beings are like magpies. You see something shiny and you want to buy it. Buying new, shiny things gives a buzz of excitement, an immediate gratification. But the thrill is short lived. Soon your proud new purchase becomes just another barely-used item taking up space in your house.
In today’s demanding world of high-pressure work, buying stuff is often a quick-fix for general unhappiness – a sticking plaster for over-work, stress and the fast pace of modern life. You justify the expense by telling yourself you deserve it for all your hard work. It’s true, you do deserve it. But often big-spending joy is followed quickly by buyer’s remorse; especially if you took out a line of credit.
So what to do? Thankfully, there is much joy to be gained from de-cluttering your life. Simplifying your existence contains slow-release pleasures that are far more sustainable than buying new clothes you don’t need or gadgets whose primary function is to gather dust. It leaves you with more time and money; and your decluttered environment helps to reduce daily stress.
There are two main steps to achieving a life with less stuff. First, get rid of the things in your house you don’t really need and then don’t acquire new possessions. It’s that simple.
Release your Clutter
Go through each room in your home and begin to identify things you can do without. Ask three questions about each item in each room:
- How often do I use it?
- Can its function be performed by anything else?
- Does it have real sentimental value?
These questions help you build up a picture in your mind as to the value an object has in your life. If you don’t use an object very much and/or its function can be done by other things, then it is likely not essential to your life.
Be careful with the sentimental value question. You can often find yourself keeping things that you could easily be rid of by convincing yourself that the memories attached to them are too valuable. Be strong and only keep those things with true worth – things like your Grandmother’s ring or old family photos. But it’s probably time to get rid of the first pair of flares you owned as a teenager.
Mark any items you identify as surplus to requirements then set about removing them from your house. Sell valuable items online via sites like eBay, Craigslist or Gumtree. Give things to charity/thrift shops, gift to friends who need them, or put them on Freecycle. You’ll be surprised as to how much money you get through a house sale such as this. You will also receive much joy from giving to friends or charities and realising a more streamlined lifestyle.
Maintain your Space
What you are left with should only be things that you can’t do without or that otherwise have a positive effect on your life. It’s important to keep on top of the decluttered lifestyle. Things have a way of reappearing, whether as gifts from friends or impulse purchases. Make sure you regularly declutter when your belongings start to grow. Before buying anything new ask yourself some questions:
- Do I really need this?
- Is it going to bring me long-term joy?
- Can I borrow one of these when I need it?
If it is not an essential purchase, figure out how much joy the item will bring over time. Be honest with yourself about how often you think you will make use of the item and compare that to the cost in money and storage space. If it is something you only need for a one-off use, try and borrow the item from friends, or find it free on www.freecycle.org then put it back on the site when you have used it.
Try to fight the compulsion to buy new things. You will have more space in your house, more money to save or spend and your life will seem simpler and less stressful than ever before. Why not use the money you save to travel, listen to live music, go to a show or visit friends? Things like this will bring more happiness to your life than inanimate objects ever will.
Andy Trowers is a freelance writer and regular contributor to www.for-sale.co.uk