Lets face it; a vast majority of Americans own too much stuff. We all have a bit of a hoarder tendency whether we realize it or not. For the most part, if we see something we want, we buy it and add it to the collection of stuff we own. If asked to move everything you owned into a storage facility, how many units do you think it would take? I can pretty much guarantee that any homeowner out there would need multiple storage units to contain all their worldly possessions.
Having lived in an RV full time for a year now, I know just how fast “stuff” can pile up. Even while living in a tiny space, the temptation to buy new things is still strong. My big “purge” was also only a year ago, and looking back at photos of all the crap we sold on Craigslist makes me cringe. It’s hard to believe that I used to own so much stuff, all of which is completely unnecessary. I know for a fact because I haven’t missed any of it for an entire year.
But you don’t have to downsize your living space to practice a minimalist lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you downsize your life a bit, and get rid of some of the clutter.
1. Purge your kitchen. I can guarantee you your kitchen is stocked well enough to feed a large dinner to a small army. Living in a small space means not having a lot of dishes. It does mean we have to wash dishes every night, but we own about 6 plates, 4 bowels, 8 cups, and a couple of cups full of silverware. Oh, and one drawer full of necessary utensils, such as: can opener, grater, spatula, etc.
To purge your kitchen, start simple. Reduce your dinnerware down to enough plates and silverware for you and your family, plus 2–4 guests. Next up are the cups…oh the cups. Back when I was single a large portion of the cupboard was filled with beer glasses we got from pint nights at a local pub. I carried some of those over into the marriage. You shouldn’t need more than about 8 of those. Less if you are single or married with no kids.
2. Downsize your wardrobe. Females should look into the Capsule wardrobe for suggestions. Men and women alike should seek to get their closet space down to a single two-foot section. For me this meant donating loads of t-shirts to Goodwill. To determine what had to go I used two rules. One: If I didn’t absolutely LOVE it, it was donated. Two: If I hadn’t worn it in the last month it was donated. My current wardrobe fits in a tiny closet about 1 foot wide. Socks, undies and everything else fits in a couple of baskets stored above our bed.
Shoes are sometimes a hard one. I recommend having just 3 pairs. One casual pair, one dress pair, and one for active things like running and hiking. I would venture to say a 4th pair isn’t so bad as long as it’s something compact like flip-flops or sandals.
3. Toss the books. I’m a bit of a bookworm myself. I STILL have a huge collection of books that I have stored at my office, but having had been separated from them for over a year, there is a very good chance they are going to be sold online or dropped off at Half Price Books. With digital books being such a huge thing, and libraries in every neighborhood, there is little reason to own physical books, unless you refer to them on a regular basis. So purge that library, it’s taking up a lot of room, and more than likely 99.9% of those books are just collecting dust.
4. The 30-Day Purge. I got this idea off a Tiny Home reality show, so can’t claim any originality for this. For 30 days get rid of something every day. Starting with one thing on day one, two things on day two, three things on day three, and so on. You can either sell them on Craigslist, or donate them to Goodwill, or other charity. This activity will help you purge A LOT of things, and you will likely be surprised about how much stuff you still have left at the end of the purge.
5. Practice, one in, one out. This is a common practice for us in RV (Tiny Home) life. Lets say I want a new shirt…well in order to get that shirt I have to give-away another shirt. Space is limited, and stockpiling shirts will just take up more space than we really have. We do the same with our kid’s toys too. When they get new toys from the Grandparent’s or for a birthday, we end up purging some of their existing toys. This is not at all a bad idea for anybody because kids rarely play with the same toy for more than a few weeks before moving onto something else. This same rule can be applied to just about any possession.
Tiny Home living isn’t the only way to purge yourself of things that aren’t absolutely necessary, but it certainly helps. It definitely forces the issue. A philosophy my family and I live by is, “value people and experiences over possessions.” It really helps us remember the things that are most important in life. Buying less stuff helps you to be able to spend your money on memories that will last a lifetime.