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.
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?
Posted by Dave on November 6, 2012
This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.
Over the Thanksgiving long weekend, I went on a road trip with my wife, dad and stepmother to Virginia. There was no real point to the trip, other than going somewhere we’d never been. After a couple thousand kilometers of driving, we saw some amazing views along the Skyline Drive at Shenandoah National Park (I felt like I was rally car racing). Thanks to the GPS directions, we also got to see a lot of the Apalachian foothills, where we saw some really interesting small towns on the way home. Along the way, we had some interesting conversations (20 hours in the car does that) – one of these conversations focused on my distaste of my waffle maker.
My wife and I bought a waffle maker a few years ago, for the 2 or 3 times per year that we had waffles (and real maple syrup which is the only way to go). In our haste to buy a waffle maker, we went with the cheapest one we could find. The problem with purchases like this is that my buyer’s remorse is going to last forever because the waffle maker won’t break and it doesn’t make sense to buy a new one….so we’re stuck with a waffle maker that just makes “okay” waffles (if that isn’t a real problem, I just don’t know what is).
Similarly, a few months ago I was looking for a circular saw. I was talking over two saws with the sales guy and he said that I could save 40% buying the cheaper one, but I would probably regret my purchase every time I used it because it definitely feels like it cost 40% less.
In retirement, the benefit of having bought higher quality goods along the way, whether it’s tools or furniture or other stuff I’ve collected means less need for buying these kind of things. Additionally, a quick (non-scientific) review of Kijiji shows the stuff that I’ve bought so far, has a fairly good resale value, if people pay anywhere near what the stuff is listed at.
My savings rate is fairly high, meaning I don’t have a ton of money to spend and still stay on course to meet my retirement goals. I have tried to make sure I am spending it more efficiently, and buying less crappy waffle makers and more good saws.
Have you ever bought a “waffle maker” item and regretted it? Would you just trade it in, give it away, or throw it out to replace it (one of these would probably be smarter than scowling at an unwanted waffle maker when I find it buried in the back of a cupboard).