I have always had more of a type A personality and for as long as I can remember I have LOVED cleaning and organizing. Every six months I find myself going through my home looking for things that no longer provided me any value and I donate the items, or as of late, sell them on buy, sell, trade groups (after letting my sister take first dibs, who is all too eager to rifle through the boxes).
When I first started doing these types of purges of unused items, my younger self (high school through early 20s) always ended up replacing what I donated with newer unnecessarily needed versions of the things I had just gotten rid of, mainly clothes, shoes and accessories. I used to live for gratification purchases.
Although I had a bad habit of buying things afterward I didn’t need, I always felt a sense a relief in getting rid of things I no longer used, like a weight was lifted off of me. I looked forward to my purges as a form of destressing and decluttering my life. Now, and especially in the last couple years, with every purge, the gratification in getting rid of things grows and I no longer find myself buying things afterward for no reason. I’ve replaced those gratification purchases with the satisfaction of wanting to live a simpler, less chaotic life style. I’ve found the older I get and especially through paying off debt, I want to focus on being intentional in every aspect of my life and to surround myself with what I love. This last year I’ve been focusing on fewer, better things and it has helped me not just pay off large amounts of debt, but to also live with a more focused and clear mind frame.
I want to invest in the friendships and goals that matter to me. To do things and see places that inspire me. To surround myself, with things I love and can be used more than once. In the last year, I’ve learned a few things about focusing on fewer, better things:
Paying off debt
When you only spend your money on quality items and things that you really love and/or need, it frees up extra cash, and time, to pay off debt. Also focusing on fewer goals to accomplish at one time i.e. become debt free, allows me to have the energy and will power to accomplish that goal instead of trying to spread myself too thin and put time into multiple goals that will only be half way completed or goals that my heart isn’t 100% focused on. Spending my money and time on fewer items and goals now will allow me to have better options in the future.
At the beginning of the year, jmr and I moved into a new apartment. Although square footage wise, our old and new apartment are about the same size, our new apartment a has a much smaller living room and no dining room in order to have a bigger kitchen. While we love our new place, a lot of the furniture we had felt crammed in the new place. I decided that instead of trying to store the items we weren’t currently using, I would sell them all, making some extra money to put towards my student loans (I made a couple thousand dollars doing this). Selling the items not only helped me financially, but I found comfort in the fact the items I sold weren’t being stored in our wet dirty poor excuse of a basement. Again, I have a type A personality – that basement is where things go to get ruined. The things that are left in our apartment are used every single and/or things that I truly love.
Also when it comes to my home, I used to be a “collector” of beauty products – like lotions, perfumes, nail polish, makeup, etc. I would buy these things with the intention of using them, only to do so once or twice, but then have major guilt about the money I spent on them when I thought about getting rid of them. Within the last couple of years I have gotten rid of or made myself actually use up products, and have switched over to green, non-toxic, chemical free types of cleaning and beauty products*. These green products are so much better for you and the environment, and although they tend to cost a little more than a product purchased at Target, I have found investing in fewer, better products around my house makes me want to use them. I value my one bottle of chemical free lotion way more than the 10 “buy two, get three bottles” of Bath & Body Works lotions that collected dust in the bathroom.
In your closet
If only I had pictures of the amount of clothes and shoes I have gotten rid of over the last five or so years. I had drawers that wouldn’t close and a walk-in-closet that you couldn’t put another item in. I’ve gotten rid of everything I don’t wear regularly by donating them, giving them to my sister (we joke almost every item of clothing she wears was once mine) or by selling them on Buy, Sell, Trade on Facebook. I used to hold on to clothes because I swore I would wear them someday, many things never worn still in bags or with tags on them, or hadn’t been worn in years. The thought of getting rid of them gave me mass anxiety, but once I made the decision to let those items go, I honestly never thought about them again.
Friends and family
I have learned, especially this year, that you should put time and effort into relationships that really matter to you. Paying off debt is hard, and I have said “no” on multiple occasions to going out and spending money to do something with friends. But, those are the friends that understand completely when I pass on going out, don’t get their feelings hurt or even suggest doing something that does not require spending any money. I’m not suggesting dropping any of your friends, but I do advise not saying “yes” to everyone and anyone. Make time for people you love, put in time and energy into being with your close friends or even family. Invest in people you care about.
When I made my goal in 2015 to pay off my debt, I never imagined that this process would change my life in so many ways different ways – ways that don’t even have to do with money. I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist, but with each passing year I fall more in love with only keeping things that truly spark joy in my life, and the more I appreciate the concept of owning fewer, better things.
What are your thoughts on fewer, better things?
*I don’t talk on this blog about my love for green beauty products, but if you are interested and need some suggestions of products, send me a message!