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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Wallet Purge

Posted by Tim Stobbs on January 6, 2014

I recently got a new wallet as a Christmas present and I used that as an excuse to tackle a long standing annoying issue …my overly full wallet.  I am almost embarrassed to type this but I was utter shocked how much garbage that I never use that I’ve been carrying around with me for years, yes you read that right, years.

To do the purge I took out everything from the wallet and put it into a stack.  It was a stack about two inches high…no wonder my wallet always felt like it was going to burst open on me.  Then I proceed to create four piles: cards that I have to keep on me (either legally or I use them that often), cards I rarely use, cards/paper that I should throw out and cards that should be stored somewhere else.

Here are some samples that went into each pile:

  1. Cards to Keep – Drivers license, health card, bank card, credit card, business credit card, business bank card and a few copies business card from my day job.
  2. Rarely Used Cards – A library card (which I never use since I have a key chain mini card), Areoplan card, bank card for the bank where my mortgage was at, and a few other points cards I rarely need.
  3. Cards/Paper to Throw Out – Old business contact cards I no longer need, points cards for places I no longer shop and I nearly died of embarrassment to see an old Blockbuster member card in my wallet. Yikes!
  4. Elsewhere Cards – I had a few points cards for gas stations that really should be kept in the car itself so my wife can use them too.

What was interesting was the first three piles were about the same size and I only had a few cards in elsewhere pile.  So in summary my wallet is now about 2/3 thinner than it used to be and I’m so grateful that I finally got to dealing with this issue.  I’m actually thinking I need to do this exercise more regularly to avoid this in the future.

So when was the last time you cleaned out your wallet (and/or purse)?  Any tips for everyone on what to keep or get rid of?

A Brief Affair with Minimalism

Posted by Tim Stobbs on August 22, 2013

I have to admit I’ve spent a bit of time lately reading blogs about minimalism like this or this(hence my recent DVD purge).  While I like the idea that less can be more for a lot of things in life, I’ve fully realized that having a house with two kids and a wife  that runs a daycare that I’m never going to live with 100 personal things or even be able to live with just 33 pieces of clothing over 3 months.  I’m fairly sure the boys own over 100 hot wheels cars, so cutting back their toys to that degree won’t happen.

Instead I’ve been looking around the house and clearing out stuff we don’t really need or even use.  I’m simplify what we obviously don’t need.  I’m more interested in finding a place for everything (like this).  My wife agrees with the idea that we shouldn’t get hung up on a given set number of things or worry about does a pair of socks count as one item or two.  The point is the reduce the crap that gets in the way of your life, and not get hung up on the details.

So for example, I was over due to purge my closet again.  So I went through it and realized something very important about my dress shirts…I had a number of them that only matched one pair of pants.  Which is silly when I had four different dress pants.  So I checked each shirt and if it matched at least two pairs of pants I made a ‘to keep’ pile.  Then I did some honest self reflection on some of my other t-shirts and things I never really wear for one reason or another.  So while I didn’t count my final total (I’ve fairly sure I’m over 33 items), I did purge about 50% of my wardrobe in a hour or so.

My wife on the other hand a simple seasonal method she uses to purge her half of the closet.  She aligns all her hangers facing the backwards direction, then as she uses items she turns them the right way around.  At the end of a season she knows what she has not used and shorts lists it for the to purge pile.

I’ve realized there really isn’t a given way to simplify things, you have to find out what works for you.  But I do really enjoy having less stuff, why?  It’s just easier to live.  You can find what you need faster, you actually use what you own rather than storing it for the 99% of the time, cleaning around the stuff gets easier when you have less of it and oddly enough I’m more relaxed.  Relaxed?!? Until I started cleaning up I didn’t realize how much low level stress I feel from walking into a messy room.  It’s SO MUCH nicer to walk into a clean room (or almost clean room).

So I’m in no danger of having a room with just one chair and a side table, but I am willing to get rid of the excess of my life.  As a nice side benefit…I’m more thoughtful about buying stuff as well which keeps your spending down, which is also helpful to your early retirement goal.  Just thing about all the money you could save if you didn’t buy the excess crap in the first place.

DVD Overkill

Posted by Tim Stobbs on August 14, 2013

156, 157, and 158…wow, that’s a lot of movies!  My wife and I own 158 DVD or Bluray cases.  By the way, that doesn’t include our TV shows which we own as well (which is another 21 seasons).  So in total I would estimate I could likely watch about 1.2 hours per day for an entire year and not repeat one scene.  That doesn’t include borrowing DVD’s from the library, the digit copies of some movies or using Netflix.

It’s odd, but counting that collection and working out the estimate of how much time I would need to watch it all really showed me how ridiculous my collection is.  What’s more amusing?  I’ve already done purges on the collection  twice in the last year.

So the question I have to ask myself is is: how much is enough?  Where did this collection of a few turn into a pile of excess?  While I really don’t know when or where this occurred, I do understand if you keep buying a few of your favorite films every year the pile tends to add up.  After 20 years, it becomes sort of an obvious problem…it’s sort of like compound interest on a debt.  It keeps growing if you don’t deal with it.

Yet throwing out movies makes me feel awful, since I tend to only buy ones that I would watch again in the first place.  So what’s the solution?  Well for some of the them I’m going to make a digital copy and then get rid of the physical disc.  The rest I’m just learning to let go, since in some cases I’m not the same person who bought that film in the first place anymore.  While I don’t have an ideal collection size in my head I’m going to purge until I’m below 150 and then start using the one in and one out rule.  That way at least I can stop the collection from growing.

So how do you keep your collections of stuff from growing too large?  What works for you?