We all have it: Stuff. And Americans are hoarding more and more of it every day. Take a look around your hometown. How many new self storage places are being built? Downsizing is no easy task and many of us, whether we are going to live in a tiny house or not, are looking for ways to simplify our lives. There are plenty of things that you need to get rid of as you go small, but there are also a few things that you can get started on right away before you get into the time crunch of having to move into your tiny house. Here are five to help you downsize today!
For the generation that is arriving into their teenage years, this is a non-issue. But for the folks that are a little older, this is GIGANTIC. For some reason, older people have the need to hang on to tangible goods to know that they own them. My brother ripped his CDs into his computer and then hung on to the actual discs for five years afterwards. “Well, you never know if your computer dies on ya, you’ll lose the whole thing. Nice to have a backup,” he said to me.
Music, movies, books and pictures are all kept in the cloud now. There is no need to hang on to the physical items unless there is a real sentimental value attached to them. I have my mom’s first edition Robert Frost poetry, a couple of leadership books and the Harry Potter series. Beyond that, it is in the cloud.
Read More: Downsize and Simplify by Going Digital
How many pictures do you have on each wall? If you are feeling a little claustrophobic in your own home, freeing up some wall space will certainly help. Try to bring each wall down to one focal point per wall. IT can be a collage of six small pictures, but it is in one place therefore one focal point.
The same goes for your shelves / tables /mantle. If you look on a shelf and there is more than one thing to lift to dust around, you have too many things on that shelf. Obviously longer shelves may have more, but you get the idea. If you have candles on display that aren’t getting used, either use them or get rid of them. Recently we moved all of our old candles to the back deck for mood lighting during parties. They are getting used now and they don’t take up two sconces, the mantle on the fireplace, the coffee table and the centerpiece for the dining room table (ok, so the wife went through a candle stage – let’s be honest, we all do).
I am going to say it and it is going to be tough to hear: “You have too much kitchen stuff.” It doesn’t take much to figure out. Go into your cabinets and find the things you use once a year. If you have a need for that fondue set that you only break out on New Year’s Eve, just borrow one from a friend. Unless you are making bread more than once a week, find a way to bake bread in the oven. If there are things out of reach, above the refrigerator or in the closet somewhere, you aren’t using them enough to keep them. I always borrow my sister-in-law’s Bundt pan and roasting pan as I use them really about once a year. Also think about the uni-taskers in your kitchen. If the tool doesn’t do more than one thing, get rid of it.
There is a lot of clothing that we hang onto for a bunch of rationalized reasons. Maybe you think, “I am going to fit in that again real soon.” Or “that is a great t-shirt from a great time that I had and I want to remember it forever.” Or, “well I need a set of work clothes, painting cloths, and around-the-house cloths so I can keep all three of these t-shirts that have holes in them.” Stop kidding yourself. I have seven dress shirts and I haven’t worn most of them in three years. If I do put a dress shirt on, it is once or twice a year and once in a blue moon do I need those two days in a row. Five of them need to go.
These are the conversations you need to have with your clothes. You have brand new clothes in your closet that you have never worn. Get on Craigslist or one of the countless apps and sell that stuff and take your closet space back!
This is always a tough subject to tackle because this is where real sentimentality comes in. So I will start from speaking from personal experience. When my parents died, I inherited a ton of “stuff.” We have other words for it in my household, but being in mixed company we will call it just that. This “stuff” had a lot of meaning to me. Every time I would look at my Dad’s yearbook, it spoke to me. It reminded me of my father and how I didn’t get enough time with him before he died. I had notes from my Mom’s grammar school buddies that said goodbye to her when she moved out of state. Those were just the tip of the iceberg and I couldn’t part with anything. So everything went into Rubbermaid containers and went into the attic. Slowly over the next couple of years, I started to go through it. I scanned what I thought was memorable, took pictures of the things that were cute and that my nieces would maybe want to look at in the future and disposed of them. This was not an overnight process. Each year, I would ask myself, “Why am I keeping this?” to a bunch of items that I couldn’t possibly have parted with the year before. What I am saying here is that it gets easier.
The same thing goes for the stuff that you are hanging onto for the next generation. Do you know that wedding dress that you are hanging onto? You don’t need to hang onto it for your daughter because more than likely it will be out of style and she will not want it. By you presenting it to her, she is going to feel obligated to wearing it, or using it to make her own, when really she just wanted to get something that said, “Her.” After all it is her day, not yours. The same thing goes for tools from dad, games and books for the kids, and more.
I know what you are saying, “My kids aren’t that way at all, and they will want all of this stuff.” Ask them if they want to play with your ball and paddle or their PS4?
Obviously, it is super easy to say all of the above than to do it. It did take me ten years to go through 27 Rubbermaid containers. But as you start to downsize and your desire to live tinier grows, so will your ability to part with the excessive parts of your life. What are you having a hard time getting rid of? What steps are you taking to go tiny? Let me know in the comments below.