Posted by Tim Stobbs on January 4, 2012
I’m at the bloody finish line of this challenge and guess what…I tripped. *%^#$ (insert swear of choice here), I messed up on a $1.94 item: LED outdoor lights which were 75% off on Dec 30. I got too damn comfortable shopping at the grocery store that I forgot to pay attention to that one item.
Other than that I did managed to keep to my rules for the entire three months. So as much as I did fail in the end, I did still change my buying habits which was the main goal.
For example, after being completely unable to buy stuff for the last three months you might expect me to be itching to go buy a few things. While this is true, the list is actually really short: hooks to hang bikes in the garage and a plant stand. Yep, that’s my list as it stands right now.
I found the absence of buying stuff strangely liberating. My life got a lot simpler for the last three months as I had to focus on everything else in my life which was great. I finally have a plan on what I want to get done in 2012 and how I will get there.
I also got rid of a pile of crap out of my house. My basement is actually almost clean for the first time in the five years I’ve been living at my house. I even found some things I forgot I had. For example, when I finally purged my half of our bedroom closet. I found a pair of black dress pants that were tossed into the corner. Brand new and never been worn since I still needed to get them hemmed. But given I had recently lost a pair of pants to a broken zipper this was a perfect solution for new pants for a $10 hem job.
I also realized ‘stuff’ is a damn poor word for what I was getting rid of or not buying. Instead I will borrow a word from another language: chindogu from Japanese which means all that useless crap we buy or have. It’s all those late night kitchen gadgets that really don’t do anything more than you already have. For example, a slapchop, which basically does the same thing as a knife. I like my useful stuff, I detest my chindogu.
Most of all I’ve managed to deconstruct an important thought in my head: I am not my stuff. I like some of my stuff, but I’m not defined by it or limited by it. Also when I no longer need that stuff I feel no guilt about selling or giving away things I never use. For example, we gave away two beautiful serving trays we no longer us, even if they were wedding gifts. Instead I’m now using ones I inherited from my grandparents, which mean more to me and are better size.
To help you with your war on chindogu, might I suggest the following:
- Do Not Buy Storage. You don’t need more shelves or containers, you likely need to get rid of things first then buy storage after the purge.
- Start with Garbage. Empty boxes, recycling cans, empty paint cans all need to get out of your house. Your first job is to get rid of that crap so you can see what is left.
- Create a Rule of Thumb. Mine was if I haven’t used this in 12 months why do I have it? Most items that failed that test and were tossed. If you really want to downsize drop down to six months.
- Get Over Getting Rid of Good Things. I tried to give away some things that were in perfect shape and sell some things like DVD’s. You might be able to also donate it, but if all of those methods fail in a week: trash the item. It’s ok to toss new things you don’t need, I even did that with some Christmas gifts I got that I can’t return and I won’t use.
- Keep up with New Stuff. As we unloaded all the new stuff into our house from Christmas my wife and I went around with garbage bags and tossed an equal volume of stuff.
Good luck on your war. Any questions on how my war went?