A few years ago I started to see the light about our overconsumption. At the time I was unemployed and broke so, admittedly, my initial reduction of consumption was out of necessity. But money aside, there were some other daily occurrences that gave me an inkling that I had more than I needed.
I never had JUST clean laundry. This was in part due to procrastination, but it was also because of a major complication involved with having all of my clothes laundered: I had nowhere to put them. I had a 4-foot wide closet, a chest of drawers, two IKEA Antonius racks stacked, coat hooks at the front door and a space bag under my bed. But I couldn’t fit all of my clothes into this space. I used my laundry baskets like storage.
It took me at least 3 full minutes to pick out underwear in the morning. I had probably 50+ pairs of underwear (and that’s just panties, not bras!) and most of them I either didn’t like or they didn’t fit. I had a pair of underwear given to me for Christmas a decade earlier. A DECADE! It took me so long to pick underwear because I had to sift through all of the ones I couldn’t/wouldn’t wear to find one of the select few that I could.
We lived in constant fear of friends dropping by on short (or no) notice. Our house was a perpetual pig-sty. All the time. It took several hours of non-stop, team-effort cleaning to get it respectable enough for guests. There was just so. much. stuff. There was, in fact so much stuff that we also had to skip a lot of opportunities to do fun things with our friends out of the house. We often found ourselves saying no to outings because we needed to devote the entire weekend to making a dent in our household upkeep. We knew if we didn’t, it would only get worse by the next weekend.
But the thing that really nagged at me the most was how utterly immobilized I was by all of the stuff. I didn’t enjoy my home. I couldn’t use my space. I couldn’t. I couldn’t deal with any of it, so I would come in my door, walk the narrow pathway through the stuff to the clear spot on the couch and watch TV until bed. I never wanted to cook a nice meal. I had a sewing machine I rarely got out because I’d have to clear the desk first.
I decided it was time to make a switch, a minimal switch.
So when I got a job, I made sure our spending stayed reigned in. In under 3 years, we’ve quintupled our net worth. We bought very little for the baby before he was born. In fact, our biggest single expenditure in that department was the $1000 lawyer fee to have our wills done. I no longer sift through undies. All of my underwear, bras, socks and cloth pads fit in ONE dresser drawer. The remaining 3 drawers house the rest of my everyday (i.e. not fancy or special-function) clothing.
I’m working on getting my home to the point of containing things that make me feel happy, inspired, even a bit zen. There’s no upper limit on how many things will be in our house, just as long as the stuff doesn’t take me past my upper limit of stress. I’ve made a lot of progress so far, but there’s still a lot to be done…