What if I told you that going through your closet and choosing twenty items to donate, sell, or recycle/trash would make a difference in your life?

You might be hesitant to do so.

What is the big deal of keeping things in your closet if you have the space anyway?

Purging your closet of just twenty items may not be enough to see a huge effect, but it could start a snowball of change in your life. This is because less is more.

But what is less more of?

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Hoarding: An Extreme Example

Anyone who has watched the show Hoarding: Buried Alive will easily come to the conclusion that less is more. You watch in horror as the homeowners meander through what appear to be World War II underground bunker lanes carved throughout their impacted homes.

In many episodes you learn of the huge financial ramifications of leading a life of collection, such as people who have whittled away their retirement on trinkets that they can no longer find.

The energy of these homeowners is getting sucked out of them each and every day, starting when they wake up and hobble off of their makeshift beds into the kitchen for anything they can find to eat.

Their day day must seem insurmountable by 8:30 a.m.

Even more than the financial and health ramifications of leading this sort of life, what practically screams from the television screen is stunted potential. There is no physical space in these homes.  A cluttered home leads to cluttered thoughts, and without space there is little potential for creativity.

No energy, no room for creativity, and depleted money are huge effects of a cluttered lifestyle. But the overarching finding from watching this show is that: more (stuff) equals less time.

So, less (stuff) means more time.

Less is more…time.   

Coming to this Conclusion in My Own Life

It doesn’t take hoarding to see the potentially negative effects of more stuff in your life.

Moving makes you very aware of your belongings, and I have moved a lot in my short lifespan. At times I’ve felt like a hermit crab. First I moved from a room at home to a college dorm, then to multiple apartments in multiple states and countries, and then finally into my own home. At first my belongings first fit into a few duffle bags that I schlepped between my parents’ homes. Then I could fit everything into my 1997 Chevy Cavalier. By my first apartment outside of college my life fit into my Chevy Cavalier and my father’s 13-passenger van.

Then in our last move into our home, it took a Moving Truck with two men working for two hours to unload our belongings.

While we have built up a suitable level of comfort in our lives (we still have one room with no furniture and are entirely okay with this empty space), I am very wary of introducing more things into our home.

Why?

Everything we choose to bring into our home adds time onto our lives’ upkeep. Stuff requires cleaning, situating, organizing, decluttering, figuring out, playing with, choice-making, etc.

Coming to this realization has shaped my philosophy on things. If something doesn’t have a purpose of being in my life, then I shed it. And purpose for me has become much more utilitarian over the last few years. Perhaps something’s purpose is in the future—say five years from now—in which case I will take the space to store it for the time being out of sight.

But if it has no purpose for us, then it is easy for me to get rid of it {or not introduce it into our lives at all}.

The Zero Sum Strategy

There are many people who tout the benefits of what is essentially a zero sum strategy: if you bring something into your home, your closet, your cupboards, etc., then you choose to take something out of it to donate, trash, sell, or give away. This will create a sort of stasis in your life, ensuring that your home stays at its current, manageable state. Of course, if you feel it is entirely unmanageable at the moment and your life feels off-balanced, you will then need to purge a large chunk of things before instituting the zero sum strategy.

I love this idea, and though the last few years has been spent accumulating basic things for us (couches, bookshelves, fireplace tools, etc.), I feel that I am either at stasis in our own household, or a little over the edge towards excess. To counter this, over the last year I have begun making several donations throughout the year from our closet, garage, bookshelves, and any other overcrowded area in our lives. Every time I comb through another room, closet, or area, I feel more at peace.

Benefits of a Uncluttered Life

The obvious benefit to maintaining a more minimalist lifestyle is the financial savings in doing so.

  • You can sell some of your belongings and/or donate with a potential tax deduction (if you itemize) to recoup a little of the amount that has been spent.
  • By not introducing lots of new things into your home from here on out, you are preserving some cash flow for future months that you can use to experience life, pay down debt, or save for future needs and wants.

The not so obvious benefits are an increase in your time, energy, focus, and creativity. While it may seem at first that you simply have given yourself less choices for what to wear in the morning, purging some of your closet actually feels liberating. Less things means there will be more space in your home.

Who knows what potential lies there?

Physical space oftentimes leads to mental space. Less time spent thinking about the things in our homes also leads to more energy for other areas of our lives.

I have truly begun to grasp this concept after quite a few transitions in my life. In a world where time has become just out of our reach, paying attention to the things that we bring into our home and into our lives is of the utmost importance. On top of the time that it can open up for us, it will save us money in the future, and hopefully bring more balance into our lives.

What has less meant more of in your life? 

Frugal Confessions Friday – Frugal Living

April 11, 2014

Hey Guys! Happy Friday to you. Here is my frugal confession of the week: This past week I renewed our electricity contract. By doing a little shopping around (www.powertochoose.org), I was able to find an offer for 1 cent per kilowatt cheaper than our current company’s renewal offering. Hurrah! What is your confession of the week? I’d love to hear it.

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Money Questions to Rev Up Your Daily Dialogue with Your Partner

April 9, 2014

One of my closest friends–the kind you do staring contests with on 4th grade bus routes–gave me such a fun present several years ago: The Book of Questions. To be honest, I didn’t know what to do with it at first. Probably a year passed by with it sitting on my bookshelf (my husband jokes that I have a two-year waiting list for books, and I laugh…but to be honest it’s probably closer to three) when I finally grabbed it for a road trip with my aunt and uncle. Why not sit around and ask each other questions, I thought? Questions like: #32: Would you accept twenty years of extraordinary happiness and fulfillment if it meant you would die at the end of the period? #7: Do you think that the world will be a better or a worse place 100 years from now? This provoked great conversation, lively debate, and a few good chuckles. It forced us to make gut-level decisions on ethical and sometimes giggle-inducing questions, and then decide on whether or not to edit our answers as they were coming out of our mouths (a conversation-starter in itself!). It was so fun, in fact, that I decided […]

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Dealing with the Financial Friction in Our Marriage Yielded Surprising Results

April 7, 2014

I want to share a story with you to show that the best planned financial systems for you and your partner often needs tweaking, and may even need a downright overhaul. I know ours did. Picture this: about four years ago we walked down the aisle with, among other things, a solid financial plan in place (don’t hit the snooze button yet). We were just months away from paying off all of our non-mortgage debt and our future was looking bright. After combining our finances into one big pot from where we paid all of our bills, we decided upon an amount of individual spending money that was free and clear to spend on whatever we wanted. Since I naturally gravitate towards finances (you think?), we designated me as Maverick (pilot) and Paul as Goose (co-pilot) in terms of day-to-day finances, with periodic sit downs to make sure we were on the same page. The plan was solid. The execution was pretty good. But then, we started slipping. We got busy, and our periodic sit-downs became about as reliable as that $15 million the guy in Nigeria has been promising me through email. Our communication got a little murky. A […]

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