Over the years I have acquired things that seem like treasures to me - stacks of vintage etiquette books, a red round vintage suitcase, my robins egg blue teapot my mother-in-law gave me, the quilt that my grandmother and great grandmother made, my very expensive carbon racing bicycle. These are things that are precious to me, if having very little value to anyone else (except, perhaps, that bicycle!). For some items, I have traveled the world picking these things up, found them in thrift stores, saved my money and scrimped to buy some of them. Other things have history, stories that could never be purchased or put on sale. Their only value is that they were loved or used by someone who's eyes and nose I share, who's fingers held me when I was small, who's bright eyes made me smile back.
"clutter" by maandag
"clutter" by maandag
In my never-ceasing quest to reduce I have pared everything down to only stuff that I use or love. There is no clutter but loved clutter! I am a very lucky woman! (I am also the woman who takes a near weekly load of things to the thrift store, but that's another story!)
Often times, we own things without realizing the implications that they have on us - we put that shirt on a credit card and are still paying for it long after we donate it to a thrift store. We buy that new toy, and hey, it needs a whole bunch of other new toys to make it work! We keep it because someone gave it to us and we would feel terrible if we tossed it.
While I will never be austere in my surroundings (I love old vintage things too much!) I want to have a realistic appreciation for my treasures - that though I delight in them my real treasures are my family, my cat, my husband, my Savior. We do not let anything into the house (or yard, or bike shed...) without first condering a few guidlines.
These are the guidelines we stick to when we decide to bring something new into our house:
- Do we really need it? Examining our needs vs. wants has been a real eye opener. We need very little besides food, basic clothing, and shelter. And yes, since we live in Michigan we also need heat in the winter. We want things like bikes, cars, houses with lots of rooms, dinners out and travel. Clothes and craft supplies, for me, are a big area I have really had to work on. JR's weakness is anything relating to bicycles.
- Will it increase the quality of our life? JR and I are experience seekers. We will glady pay money for trips to museums, hikes, trying out a new sport, trips to see new places, and things that will give us more enjoyable experiences. For example, we did not need a new kayak, seeing as we already have one, but having two made things so much better! We have gone paddling together, and I have a "spare" to use when friends come over. We have spent many hours enjoying the experiences that we can have since we have two kayaks instead of one! We make sure that we will recieve a meaningful gain from whatever we purchase, especially big ticket purchases. We always ask ourselves "how much will we actually use this?"
- Can we afford it? Jon and I do not, as a rule, take on more debt. While there have been exceptions to this rule (we purchased plane tickets to my brother's wedding via credit card...) we make sure that we have the means to pay it off quickly. We pay off the credit card at the end of every month (more like the end of every week!) and I have probably never paid more than $5.00 of interest for the entire time I've had it. We are working through the student loan as fast as we can do so, as well, always paying more than the minimum. We do not want to have to keep paying for an object long after we have ceased to use it so not having consumer debt is important to us! Living within (or under...) our means is very important to us!
By evaluating every object we buy, and thinking over every purchase we have saved a lot of money! Neither of us mindlessly shop (oh, how I wish I could sometimes, though!), though we are always poking around at things we want to buy. (I am obsessed with this travel mug on etsy right now!).
Go ahead and look around your room - why do you have the things in it? Do you really love it? Do you use it a lot? Is it taking up space, collecting dust, or causing you to spend more money on it when you don't even like it? Does it make your heart flutter that you own a pair of size 41, never been worn track cycling shoes from the early 70's? (I know mine does... :)
Throughout the next week or two I will be putting up a series of posts on the stuff in your life! There is more to stuff than just clutter - there are emotianal, financial, and spiritual implications to it! We will talk through this and maybe work on clearing some of the clutter from your house to make room for some peaceful corners!