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Friday, January 30, 2015

In and Out

Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 29, 2014

Ugh, Christmas is over.  The presents are unwrapped, you have setup, washed or otherwise started to use your new gifts.  Good for you.  Now on the flip side what are you getting rid of?

Pardon?!? All to often we get new stuff in our lives and don’t even give it a second thought that perhaps this would be an excellent time to also consider getting rid of a equal number of items to ensure your pile of stuff doesn’t grow.  I personally try to get to this the week following Christmas.

In some cases, this is a very easy thing to do.  For example, I got a new pair of jeans and tossed an old pair that I had previously fixed a hole in the pocket of.  The rest of the jeans were also starting to wear out so it was an easy decision to make.  Heck while you are in your closest you could just do a check in to see if you actually wear everything you have in there.

Other things are a bit more complex, like we got a new Keurig coffee maker for a gift.  So does that mean I should toss out my old coffee pot.  Perhaps, but I also use that coffee pot a LOT right now.  So in this case, I’ll take a wait and see approach to decide if I will use one more than the other and if I should get rid of something in the future.

Giving stuff and receiving it is easy to do.  Getting rid of things isn’t always so easy especially if you have problems tossing perfectly usable items (like I do).  So I tend to use the following methods:

  • Give it to a friend. In some cases, you might have someone else who can use something you used to have and they would love it.  When this works out it is wonderful for everyone.
  • Donate it. Nearly perfect used clothes are easy to donate and so are small household goods to some charities.  Other things you have to consider if it would be really useful since it is fairly won.
  • Sell it. Online sites make this significantly easier to do now and you can also give something away for free if you do not feel it would be worth selling.
  • Or if you just can not find a way to get rid of it…throw it away. I hate to do this, but accept sometimes I can not find something a home.

So do you do a post holiday purge?  If so, how you do handle it?

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.