I’m feeling overwhelmed. With stuff. With a wedding four years ago…and two babies in two years…and thirty years of LIFE…we now have more than enough stuff. Do I really need all of this? Do I really want most of it?!
A couple years ago we lived in corporate housing in New York City while my husband trained for a new job. Almost all of our belongings were left in our home in Chicago, and for four months we lived with just the bare essentials in a clean and spacious apartment. I felt so liberated and unencumbered getting by on just the basics! I’m ashamed to admit that I secretly hoped our place in Chicago would burn down so I wouldn’t have to deal with all our stuff when we returned home. I had to ask myself: if I could get by without a particular item for four months, did I really need it in the first place??
The four of us now live in a two bedroom Chicago townhouse. It is a lovely home, but certainly not large (especially considering all the kid stuff we now have!). So, I recently instituted an in-out policy in our house. Nothing new is allowed through the door unless something old is sent out. If I treat myself to a new skirt, an old one has got to go. Evelyn receives a cute stuffed animal? Adios to one she already had. This practice not only ensures that stuff doesn’t bury us alive, but it also forces us to question if we really need something before we buy it.
Once something has no value to me, it has no value. Period. Taking this approach makes it a lot easier to get rid of unnecessary stuff because I’m not worried about losing out on whatever perceived value it may still hold. Useless items take up precious space in my home, but, more importantly, they really drag down my spirit. I just waste my time worrying about what to do with that item. Unless an item is useful on a regular basis or a treasured momento it faces expulsion!
When I stumble upon something that has no longer has value to me, I prefer not to just throw it away. Someone else may see value in it, and I don’t want to clog up the landfill with more junk. Here are my methods for dispersing my stuff:
1. Freecycle (www.freecycle.org): This service is AMAZING! We had a printer that broke, and I felt awful about throwing away such a clunky piece of metal and plastic. So, I posted it on Freecycle. Five hours later it was picked up, and an hour later the person who took it emailed me to let me know he had repaired it!
2. Craig’s List: This is a great way to sell or give away larger items like furniture.
3. Goodwill/Salvation Army: At least once a month I have a bag of stuff to drop off at our local Salvation Army.
4. Ebay: I had some designer jewelery that I no longer wore, so I posted it on Ebay and three days later it was on its way to the buyer in Guam. And I was $125 richer!
5. The lobby of your apartment building/kids’ school/church/etc: On more than a few occasions I’ve put a perfectly good item on the table in our building’s mail room with a sign that reads “FREE TO A GOOD HOME.” Within 10 minutes it’s gone to someone who sees value in it.
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