The Realization that I am Surrounded by Useless Crap

 

 

A few months ago, I decided to sell some clothes to make some extra cash.  I have been working toward paying down my debt and found this great little app on my phone that allowed me to sell my unwanted items.  I thought this could be a great way to earn extra income on the side.   After a few items sold, I felt a little rush of adrenaline and started rummaging through my closet looking for additional items to sell.  I would ask myself, “Do I want this pair of running shoes more than I want to pay off my debt?”.  More often than not, I didn’t.

I kept posting and selling over the next few weeks with marginal success, but eventually the thrill began to wear off and the process of packing and shipping each item started to annoy me.  I also had to admit to myself that I wasn’t making any  money. Between the shipping and supplies, I really didn’t have much to show for my efforts when all was said and done.  This wasn’t helping me pay down my debt.  So, I took down my listings and decided I was done with it.

When the next weekend rolled around, something interesting happened.   I found myself going through my closet again, filling up bags with clothes even though I had no intention of selling anything.  I didn’t miss or regret any of the items I had sold.  In fact, I felt a great sense of satisfaction each time I sent one of my previously loved items off to its new owner.  I loved the idea that somebody else could use these things.  So, this time I decided to just bring a few bags of clothes over to the local donation center.

It turns out that this was even better than selling!  In addition to the warm-and-fuzzies one  gets from supporting a good cause, I also felt like a weight had been lifted off of me as I drove back to my apartment.  Why did this make me feel so good?  I wasn’t sure but I just kept doing it.  Every weekend I would put items out on the curb or pack up some donation boxes.  Clothes, dishes, household items, furniture, cosmetics, it was all fair game.

As I’m sure some of you can relate to, I eventually went down the internet rabbit hole and started reading about the idea of minimalism.  I found blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to the topic and got pretty excited.  There was even a documentary I found on Netflix (“Minimalism”) that really got my wheels turning.  Such a simple question, yet it was somehow completely novel to me: Does this stuff add value to my life?

This changed everything.  I would sit in my little one-bedroom apartment looking around, trying to draw the line between what I actually valued and what was just clutter.  To my surprise, I didn’t value much of it at all.  For my whole adult life, I have been shopping the sales on a tight budget.  I did not typically purchase things that I really loved, I would try to get the best deal instead.  95% of my wardrobe is either from a thrift store or fast-fashion stores.  All of my furniture is from IKEA, a family member or the curb.  Yard sales make my knees weak.

As a result, I have acquired a lot of stuff over the years and most of it is truly crap.  I can admit that now.   These items all must have brought me joy at some point when I purchased them, but now the only emotion I can identify with them is shame.  Maybe if I didn’t waste my money on all of this stuff, I wouldn’t even be in debt!  The thought of this puts a lump in my throat.  I feel like my eyes had been adjusted to the dark for years and the lights just came on.

Not surprisingly, my shopping habits have really changed over the last few months.  Impulse purchases and ‘just in case’ items are mostly a thing of the past.  Do I really need this?  Do I really love this?  Just by asking these questions, I am saving a lot of money and paying down more debt each month.   I had never realized how much these little purchases add up!

I am still at the beginning of my journey and continue to pack up my donation bags and boxes on the weekends.  I have a long way to go, but seeing the progress keeps me motivated.   I feel an increasing sense of gratitude and calm as I work to identify the belongings that bring me joy and let the rest go.

It is not a contest.  I will never live in a spotless white apartment or fit all of my possessions into a backpack.  I don’t want that, it isn’t me.  My goal is just to wake up knowing that everything I have is everything I need.

49 thoughts on “The Realization that I am Surrounded by Useless Crap

    1. You could have put my name on this story! I am an antiqe dealer and have been for years. Though i have thinned out my personal stuff…thrift store still thrill me! The Bargin….i am now working on control of that! I was inspired by your story. Thank you

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “Maybe if I didn’t waste my money on all of this stuff, I wouldn’t even be in debt! The thought of this puts a lump in my throat.”

    I know so well how you feel. My husband and I could be retired right now if we hadn’t bought things that we felt sure we needed, and are now just reminders of stupidity.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been going through a process of getting rid of a lot of things too. I just want to figure out a way to let go of things that loved ones that passed gave me. It is just too many. Any suggestions?
    Susan

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    1. Hi Susan, congrats on getting started! I have the same problem, particularly with gifts. I will probably write about it soon because it is a challenge I’m still working on. I don’t feel too guilty donating things that would be useful to others, but items that were made for me or are sentimental can be so hard. I think it’s ok to keep some of these items IF they bring you joy. If they are just random items that connect you to a person or event, perhaps take a photo of each one and let them go. That way, you can always revisit them without he clutter. Easier said than done, but so far I have not regretted the sentimental items I’ve parted with. It’s just that moment when you’re making the decision that is a bit painful. Hope this helps – Thanks for visiting!

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    2. I feel like if you’ve enjoyed the item for 5, 10 or more years it’s ok to pass it on! Family antiques are my problem – not valuable but great gma’s table and sewing machine and dishes etc (such family history!)
      I am offering them to siblings and other relatives and so far they’be been thrilled to get them. Sharing is good 🙂

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    3. How I handle this is I chose 2 charities whose mission has meaning for me (Hospice is one) & I think of all of the people they help with the money raised!

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  3. Kudos to starting the journey. It is funny (and amazing) how quickly this dial can turn. I have been paying close attention to my own purchasing and accumulating habits for the last 4 months. I think in the last 2 months I have not bought anything new except for a pair of khakis and a pair of shorts to replace my worn out ones. Pretty wild. I even stopped buying coffee at work because 1) it was just a habit and not something I really wanted and 2) it was really not that good.

    Nice work and good luck on the journey!

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    1. Thank you so much! You are 100% right about how fast it can change. After you make that decision, you suddenly realize all of the wants (not needs) that you have been satisfying with your hard-earned dollars!

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  4. I LOVE that last sentence!!!! I’m totally going to make that into some kind of graphic to hang in my house somewhere! THAT, my friend, is the key to contentment. I love this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow thank you!! If you do make it into a graphic, send me a photo! What a cool idea! This is my first attempt at putting my thoughts out into the world, so the kind words are hugely motivating. You rock 🙂

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  5. Thanks for writing this! I’ve been simplifying gradually over the last couple of years, and your writing verbalizes a lot of what I’ve been learning. Rather than thinking of simplifying as a ‘project’, I would encourage newbies to think of it as a ‘process’. One has to change mindset before letting go: one thing, one drawer, one room at a time. It does get easier, with more weight off your shoulders, as you go along. And it really does begin with the question: does this item bring me joy, or maybe: will this give someone else joy? (Here in Canada, there is a movement called “The Big Give”, held on the first Saturday of June every year – and it’s a great way to bless others with things that are still new or nearly-new.) As I get ready to live in an RV (My Tiny House), I admit I am stumped with those special things of mom’s, grandmother’s, the kids, etc.. I’ve decided to box some of them up and decide their value at a later date – which means I’m not ready to let go of them just yet, and that’s ok, too.

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  6. What a great post! I’m enjoying being on a minimalist journey, too. It’s surprising, like you say, once the tide turns it really does….I find myself walking around my home most days just filling up bags for donations to charity stores (is this addictive do you think?!) and the free space it leaves is so calming and peaceful 🙂 I’ll look forward to following the rest of your journey!

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    1. Excellent! Sounds like we’re in a similar place. I don’t actually enjoy the process of selecting items to donate/discard but I LOVE dropping them off. And yes, the feeling of satisfaction when I look at the emptied space is just the best!! Thanks so much for finding me!

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  7. Your entire post is so simple yet so profound. I’m saving it (on the computer, not printing it, lol) to re-read. Thanks for sharing! One new thought that I had while reading and relating to your words is, “What if I stop carrying my debit and credit cards — maybe even cash — with me unless I had an intentional shopping trip (plus list) with me? That would cut down on a lot of impulse spending, I’m sure!

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    1. What a fantastic compliment, thank you! I love your idea about not carrying money unless you have a clear intent to spend it. I think this would be super helpful, especially when people are starting out. I know it would have saved me a TON of money! I don’t think you’d need to do it for very long, though. I am already beginning to notice that I am less likely to purchase things impulsively now, even if I have extra money in my pocket. It’s not really discipline so much as a reduced desire to consume, but hey I’ll take that as a win! 🙂 Thank you again, if you have any other ideas, please send them my way!

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      1. I like that: “A reduced desire to consume.” Exactly! I don’t even want to step inside a store anymore. I’ve noticed if I see something I like and am tempted to buy, I tell myself that yes, I could buy it and bring it home, but then what? It’s just another item sitting in my home.

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  8. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I value what I have kept more because I know I use it and love it. I am noticing the same change in shopping habits as well. I am often tempted by things but now I stop and ask myself how will I use it and where will I store it. That nips most superfluous purchases in the bud. I even started voicing a preference for consumable gifts if someone insists on giving me something rather than donating in my honor.

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  9. I do believe shopping is an addictive habit. Once you break it….the desire for new things fades away. That has been my experience. Now my biggest temptations are the clothing catalogs that come flooding into my mail box. I have learned not to look at the covers….just drop them into the recycle bin! Good luck on your journey.

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  10. OMG thats so me. The lights gone on for me as well and its the best feeling ever. I can actually drive past yard sales now as they have nothing I need or want. Its very freeing and Im saving money. I used to fool myself into thinking that I was doing the right thing buying secound hand even if it was just stuff hey it was cheap stuff lol. Thanks for your article

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    1. Thanks Shelley! I still have to convince myself not to stop at the yard sales (they are my kryptonite) but I’ve managed to skip them all so far. I drove by about 10 today! You’re absolutely right, it’s a bunch of cheap stuff and we don’t need it!

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  11. It feels so good to purge unused things!! I’ve been working at it for a couple years now. The clothes are pretty easy for me… dishes and sentimental things are my area of trouble. I love pretty glass and kitchen items. And having lost my mom at a young age, anything relating to her is a tough one.

    I can relate to having many furniture items as hand me downs – but so many of mine bring me joy. Many items were my moms or were items she had refinished. Others were in my parents or grandparents house while I was growing up. I need to work on using some of the furniture pieced more though, because why have them if they aren’t being used.

    Keep working on it! You’ll pare away a little bit, recover a bit and pare away more. Next step is to keep yourself from refilling the empty spaces. Good luck!!!

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  12. Nice article… this is me over the last 6 months also.

    I even went to a shopping centre yesterday and got annoyed with all the people milling around just buying useless crap, and it wasn’t even me spending. I felt a little nauseous at spending money on a modest laptop even (mine was finished and I use it heavily for work so a needed purchase). Not so long ago I would have gone in there, got the most powerful model they did, spent a ton of money I didn’t have, and loved every minute.

    Funny how things can change so much!

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  13. My biggest vice is YARN! I’m an avid knitter, and used to stock pile yarn to knit “someday”. I used to tell my knitting friends to line my casket with my yarn when I die. Well, I decided not to buy any more yarn until I knitted up what I had, and it has taken me 10 years, but I’m finally reaching the bottom of my stockpile, and I’m a fast knitter! All my family and friends have been gifted with knitted socks, hats, sweaters, you name it, for birthdays and Christmas, which also saved me money! Win-Win!

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