Simple Saturday ~ A question for you

I have a question for you all to comment on…

How has your attitude to possessions and your desire to acquire things changed as you progress on your journey to declutter your homes?

Here is my answer to this question…

If something is of no personal or functional value to me there is a good chance it will find itself featured as the Declutter Item of the Day. I am finding that cutting the ties with objects is getting easier and easier as the time goes on.

I find I have no desire to acquire anything that adds to my possessions unless I am sure it will be well used. I have spent money recently on replacing items of furniture in my home in a bid to streamline the functionality of my surroundings but aside from that I tend to spend my money on non-material things. I spend money on outings with friends and family, I like to travel and once or twice a week I enjoy food that I don’t have to prepare myself. I spend less than I can afford in order to set money aside to provide the finances to continue to enjoy these things in the future. I never feel like I am missing out on anything and I never feel inclined to buy things to show off to others around me.

The one drawback I can think of is that when I do need to make a purchase when something requires replacing I procrastinate forever over the purchase. I find I am a little obsessed with making the right choice that I will be satisfied with for a long time to come. Unfortunately this doesn’t always guarantee that the product will live up to my expectations or it’s promises but that is life I guess.

Send me a comment on how you are progressing when it comes to breaking ties with your things and resisting the urge to bring new items into your home.


Continue reading with these posts:

  • Simple Saturday ~ New Year’s Resolution If you are looking for a new year's resolution consider pledging to declutter an item a day from your home everyday during 2012. That's 365 less things you will have cluttering up […]
  • Saturday Extra ~ Midway Simplicity Mohamed Tohami over at Midway Simplicity has begun another interview project ~The Midway Decluttering Show. His most recent guess was a wonderful lady with a shining personality and very […]
  • Simple Saturday ~ One man’s trash is another man’s treasure Here is proof of the old saying that one man's trash is another man's treasure. This port crock was decluttered from our home some time back. I actually can't find evidence of it on […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. I think due to the time difference i am always one of the first to comment 🙂

    My answer is pretty much the same as yours, the more i simplyfy the easier it gets and the choosier i become with what i keep and purchase. My attitude has changed in that i am no longer ‘on the hunt. In the past i always would be shopping, if i was bored, miserable or had time to kill off i would shop. Now i actually consider what the item is, how much value it would add to our life, then where to get it for the best price. And you know what i actually enjoy the process, it is slow and steady as opposed to manic and rushed. I make fewer mistakes but the less i shop, the less desire i have to shop. Behaviour breads behaviour.

    What i have found is that since i have cleared the visual and mental clutter my mind has turned to what i really want out of life. I have plans in the pipeline regarding a career that i would never have considered 3 years ago as i did not have the confidence to pursue it. I also never have that awful feeling when a friend or relative turns up unexpected and your house is a mess, i enjoy inviting them in and genuinly enjoy their company, before i would have been sitting looking around my house thinking i really wished my house was tidier. I really could go on all day about the benefits of paring down but i won’t!!

    I suppose what i’m trying to say is that i now desire life, people, experiences, pushing my limits, spending time with my kids, walking the dogs, changing of the seasons, i no longer desire ‘stuff’. Consumerism just made me miserable and i’m glad i showed it the door 🙂

    Sharron

    • Hi Sharron,
      good for you, and what a turn around from where you used to be. This is the difference between just getting rid of stuff and actually working on how it got that way in the first place. I decluttered many times in the past but this time is different this not just a case of clearing physical clutter but clearing mental clutter as well. Well done you!

    • That’s what I was going to say! Seriously you covered every point and thought about my new relationship with purchasing and posession of STUFF… thanks for putting it so well (wink-wink)

  2. I have never been a big buyer because of my basic frugal nature and how I was raised, but there was a time I WANTED to be a big buyer, and the gap between what I had and what I wished I had was quite large. Now I don’t WANT to buy “new and improved” everything, so there is no gap and I am happier.

    I arrived at that state of mind because I saw all our closets and cupboards full to bulging and began to realize there was no longer any place to store things. And at the same time I realized that both my husband and I were really bad at giving up things. The water coming in was rising faster than we were bailing it out. As Colleen keeps saying, you have to stop the water coming in! And it wasn’t hard for me to do that once I saw the problem.

    The problem that remains for me, however, is keeping things that are past their prime. I’m afraid my house and I can tend to look shabby because of my wish to thoroughly wear things out. But I continue to work at it, to find the balance that is best for me.

    • Hi Jo,
      you are so right Jo, bailing out the clutter is no good to anyone if it is pouring in faster than you are bailing. Now you have your head above water and can see the level dropping. Well done! I understand your issue with keeping things that are past their prime, that would describe my clothing. I think I have bought three items in the last twelve months. It is not that I can’t let go but that I did not like this years fashions and so I have no choice but to hang on to the well worn stuff. Oh well only a couple of months left and I will be back into my summer clothes and maybe next year the selection of winter clothes will be better.

  3. Like you, I tend to procrastinate on purchasing items I need because I’m always looking for the best buy or the most versatile piece. Two cases in point: we’ve needed a new mattress for YEARS and we shop around a bit but don’t commit, then let it slide awhile. I also need a desk to use at home. I have a minimalist desk which fits height-wise but it really is too small and has no spot to keep the notebooks I need for my classes so the papers, folders and books tend to spread out. If I could find the ‘perfect’ desk, I could contain all the stuff in one place. But I haven’t found the perfect desk and I won’t settle for just any desk. The longer I go down this simple living road, the less I want to buy anything new that doesn’t truly ADD to my life and not just my possessions. I’d rather spend my money on experiences like traveling and spending time with my family and friends.

    • Hi Willow,
      making do with what you have until just the right thing comes along makes a lot of sense to me. There is no point swapping one dysfunctional desk for another. It is important that a work space meets your needs. Have you ever considered designing your own desk and having someone make it for you. It may be a bit more costly but it would be perfect and that would be worth the extra expense. You know I love the idea that you devote your time and money on experiences and relationships, that is what life is all about after all.

    • Like you, we have needed a new mattress for years also. Started a special savings fund for it and we have enough to purchase it and have actually looked around. With so many different choices, it is hard to make that “decision”. I think that the more choices we have the harder it gets. Years ago when our parents needed a mattress they went to the “mattress store” and bought one. Today there are lots of “mattress stores” and way too many kinds to choose from. You can compare, read ratings and still be “stuck” and unable to make the final choice. I think we fear that out of all the ones to choose from we will make the wrong choice and then we will be disappointed and so we don’t choose at all…….or we take waaayyy too long to make up our minds on such a basic item. Wish I had an answer to this dilemma, our mattress is getting pretty uncomfortable!

      • Hi Amy,
        when it comes to mattresses just forget all the hype and choose what feels comfortable to you. I personally don’t like pillow tops made from that memory foam because rolling over is difficult. They mould to your shape and then when you try to roll they take some time to reshape and that is awkward. If you are going for latex make sure it is natural with no fillers. Pick a mattress that breaths it will maintain a constant heat, letting out excess heat and keeping you at a good body temperature in both hot and cold climate. I used to work in furniture and even though I didn’t sell mattresses I learned enough about them from our bedding department to know what to look for. My daughter has a cheap Ikea mattress on her bed and everyone that sleeps on it thinks its great so price don’t always mean the difference between good and bad.

  4. I’ve never been a shopper but I’ve been a lifelong scavenger. My biggest change has been avoiding the curse of FREE stuff. I am now able to bypass hotel soap, pens, notepads and other giveaways with nary a twinge and have been giving away the giveaways I already have. A lesson in Cost vs Value that you covered a while ago.

    My spouse is an ‘upgrader’. I don’t have a problem with that as he researches and buys good things that he needs. The challenge for him has been letting go of the outdated. He’s really making progress here – got rid of the unrepairable lawnmower when he got the new one, sold the old table saw BEFORE buying a new one.

    We will never completely lose the “I might need it one day” ethos of our Depression-era parents but we’re working on that.

    • Hi Wendy B,
      I have always been a sucker for a freebie too and I used to love garage sales as well. Like you I have learned my lesson. The old I might need it some day can be a very hard habit to break. Sometimes I just get that kind of clutter out the door real quick before I change my mind. Like ripping of a bandaid, once the deal is done it is soon forgotten and very rarely are there regrets.

    • Hubby has the “I might need it someday” syndrome whereas my motto is “when in doubt, throw it out” (or sell,donate, etc)
      He also suffers from “But it’s still good”. My question is, “good for what?”. There’s a limit to saving old t shirts for rags, etc. and, even if you “need it someday”, will you be able to find it in all the clutter?

  5. What a great question! I have become more and more averse to things. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have a huge amount of scrapbook stuff. BUT, I am not buying more unless I absolutely have to have it because I’m making a card for a specific purpose. As it disappears, I am not buying anything new other than basic supplies. Then rather than store things, I will buy only when needed and what is needed. Other than those supplies though, I have come to where we have more and more things I would like to dispense with if they were just mine. I also wish I could convince my mother to dispense with all the Ziploc bags, Gladware, and paper towels. I’m so much more “green” than she is and to me we need to get things that are reusable or recyclable. I feel that Mom and I have more kitchen items than we need and things like that too. The other day someone asked me why my wardrobe was so sparce. When I said that I only needed enough to get me from wash day to wash day she stated that she only washed once or twice a month and that she liked to have enough to get through a month without having to wash if she wanted. Hum! That’s a lot of clothes to pay for, maintain and house. Each person is different but I am finding that for me I am becoming more and more of a person who wants less around and wants to buy less.

    • Hi Deb J,
      I hear you on the scrapbook clutter. As you know I am doing the same. It is almost time to think about making this years Christmas cards. That should be fun.
      Other people’s clutter can cause some frustration, that’s for sure, but there is little to be done about it except to keep setting an example and hope the less is more trend catches on. As for those snap lock bags, Gladware and paper towles, I also have lessened my dependency on these items. I used to love snap lock bags, they are rather handy, but even then I would wash them out and reuse them but now a have one small box for putting wet items in for travel and we never use them for anything else. The paper towel I do still buy, I use it for cleaning the toilets and for putting over food when heating in the microwave, I am yet to find a better solution for this. Perhaps you have some suggestions for me. My plastic container collection is only getting smaller rather than bigger and I can’t see me ever having to add to it.
      As for owning enough clothes so that I only have to wash once or twice a month, that isn’t likely to happen, ever! I know someone who does that too and frankly it disturbs me. 😕

      • Hi Colleen,

        I don’t use a microwave anymore but when I used to, I had a reusable, washable, plastic cover. You could also cover your food with another plate if you’d prefer to avoid plastic. Or ditch the microwave, like I did. lol. I have not bought any paper towels for a while now, and have taken the habit to write the date on the inside of the roll cardboard. I just checked, and my current roll is about half full and dated April 10th. 🙂

        • Hi NatalieinCA,
          I have considered both the plastic cover and the plate options before and have my doubts about the viability of them. I make a lot of food with leftovers and my son tends to snack in it a lot. I would be forever having to wash the cover and plates which requires detergent. Which raises the question of what is worse the paper towel or the detergent. Unfortunately we use the microwave a fair bit so ditching it isn’t an option at this point.
          You do the same thing with your paper towel as I do with aluminium foil (May 2011) and plastic wrap (Dec 2010) and both are still nearly full.
          What do you use to clean the toilets with?

          Thank you for taking the time to send me your suggestions, I really appreciate it.

          • Hi Colleen,

            I probably read it on your site (writing the date on the roll), your blog has such great tips.

            When I had a microwave plastic cover, since it actually does not touch the food (about 3 inches higher), the washing was very minimal, unless something really exploded… Just a quick rinse under the sink was usually enough. As you probably know, paper towels can be composted so the main issue is not disposing of them, it is about all the water used during their manufacturing. From what I have read it seems that rinsing is significantly less water costly than producing paper.

            I use a brush for the toilet bowl, along with a home made spray cleaner (based on water, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and castile soap). There are some zero waste options discussed on this site, under Housekeeping: http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/p/forum.html

            • Hi NatalieinCA,
              I know you are right about the manufacturing process of paper and it is about time I adopted the plastic cover idea. I can always wipe them down with my trusty microfibre clothes like I do for my good knives.

              I use a brush for my toilet also but what do you wipe the outside parts of the toilet with? Rags are the only other choice but then they need disinfecting. I will check out the zerowastehome as I know she certainly knows her stuff when it comes to green.

              Thanks Natalie

          • One way to avoid paper towel use for cleaning toilets is to use toilet tissue and either rubbing alcohol or disinfectant spray, and drop the soiled tissue in the bowl as you go, then flush. I know that toilet tissue is expensive, but so are paper towels, and I don’t like the idea of using a reusable cloth for this area. A bit of a “thing” about germs, here 🙂

            • Hi Jo,
              paper is paper and I would rather use the paper towel that isn’t going to fall appart in my hand while I am using it. Thanks for the suggestion though. I have been using a glad wear lid in the microwave this week so I have saved some paper manufacturing in that area.

          • I use crocheted cotton cloths which I have made, one a day and they go in the wash. Just wipe around the tank, outside then inside of the pan, then use a brush for waterline and below. The home made ones last for ever!

            • Hi Janetta,
              I might be a neat freak but am a long long way from being a germaphobe. Used by date are just a rough guide to me. I use very little disinfectant in my house, mostly just microfibre clothes for most cleaning jobs. I dislike chemical companies who keep trying to shove their germ killing products down our throat with their scaremonger tactics. I never carry hand sanitizer. And I firmly believe that one needs to be exposed to germs to built up a healthy imune system. That being said I am not in love with the idea of cleaning the toilet with a cloth that will get used over and over again. Could you please convince me this is a good idea. Do you disinfect the cloths, do you throw them in a normal wash load with other items and do you only use the toilet cleaning cloth for cleaning the toilet or for other cleaning jobs as well?

              The ridiculous thing about this line of questioning is that if my memory serves me correctly I used to use cloths for this very job prior to 2000. I got in the habit of using paper towel because that was what was supplied in our initial temporary accommodation. After using paper towel for the toilet I thought that seemed a whole lot more sanitary than clothes and never went back to them. I just can’t remember what clothes I used (chux I think) or how I went about laundering them.

      • I too have one of those plastic covers to put over things in the Microwave. What is funny is that we wouldn’t have one if the previous owners hadn’t left it. We always used paper towels too.

        There are a lot of really good responses on here. It’s great. By the way, I really like your Mini Mission Monday’s. I like the entire blog. It keeps things fresh in my mind for one thing.

  6. Almost forgot: I’ve been gradually getting rid of storage pieces too as I pare down my scrapbook supplies. I like having less furniture in the studio.

    • Hi Deb J,
      I can really relate to this. I have a sewing cabinet in my craft room that is empty and ready to go. I am just trying to figure out the best way to try to sell it. I need to get on to that so I can free up the space. I am so looking forward to seeing the craft room minus that piece.

  7. Calico ginger :

    Absolutely! I feel I have everything I need and I now make a habit of taking my time over any new purchase I have. You know I actually think to myself sometimes “this is how really rich people must feel – I don’t want for a thing!”.

    However, over-researching just stresses me out. There’s an ad on TV here in Oz at the moment about the futility of buying designer underpants, and one of the lines in it is “you are not going to hand them down to your kids” – that’s how I feel about most of the new stuff I buy now too. No point worrying over buying the perfect whatever – who knows what tomorrow will bring?

    • “you are not going to hand them down to your kids”

      I love this line. In both the ad and in the rest of life. There is so very little of our stuff that our kids would want. Just like there is so very little of my parents’ things that I would want.

      • Jo, you are so right. This is a common mistake people make. And then when the “precious item” in handed down the recipient ends up keeping it out of obligation, only adding to their clutter.

    • Hi Calico ginger,
      you are so right, I feel rich myself at times when I think ~ I don’t want for a thing. Granted we are comfortable where money is concerned these days but only through selfmade success and sensible spending for 24 years of married life. My hubby and I are a winning team I think, he has earned most of our money and risen up through the ranks while I have managed to stay home, raise our children using my own skills to make ends meet and save by doing things for myself. I thank my parents for teaching me well on that score. Now we are in a good place now but don’t find the need to spend, spend, spend on stuff and that gives us the freedom to enjoy experiences and travel. I saddens me to see people who had all the same chances in life that we did but fritter them away on stuff they don’t need and wonder why they now have nothing for their future. It is amazing really how little we do need when it all bowls down to it, the only reason we even think we need things is because everyone else has it. People often strive to be rich and famous but I wouldn’t have that life if someone tried to had it to me on a silver platter because you have to give up so much to gain very little worth having.

      Please tell me what add it is that you mentioned in your comment. I can’t say I have seen this one but it sounds right up my alley.

      • For many years we were like you and your hubby. I worked a few hours tutoring but mostly stayed home and cooked meals, saved money, while my hubby worked. We figured it was ‘our’ money, ‘our’ time, ‘our’ decisions. We were a team! I can thank The Frugal Zealot (aka Amy D.) for reminding me that the person not earning the $ is also working and should put in the 8 hrs a day that the wage earner does.

  8. Well being really new to this blog (about 4 weeks I think), I am still in the early days of decluttering, and for my 30 odd days I think I have managed to declutter about 15 items. So whilst I not going to bash myself up for not being totally up-to-date, what I have noticed in this short time, is that I am constantly looking and thinking about what can go and what I don’t need (to buy). So it is a total philosophy change….it is brilliant! There is a very significant cleansing emotion attached to decluttering. Colleen, imagine if EVERYONE in the western world thought like this??….there would be so much less material consumerism. Imagine what else we could all achieve, with the extra time and money?? It’s mind boggling! My simple answer to your question is “Yes, my attitude has changed…significantly…thank you!”

    • Hi Janine H,
      what a beautiful comment. Only four weeks in and you have learned the lessons of a lifetime. That is how it was for me when I first started on this mission, I discovered that what I had wasn’t as big of an issue as what I might have replaced it with if I hadn’t learned to break the cycle. You may have only sent 15 things on their way but your head is in the right place and you are on the right track. I look forward to hearing more about your journey as you progress.

      People often say to me ~ What would happen to the economy if every one thought the say way I do. And I firmly believe it would find a new commodity to rely to make the money go around. That’s evolution!

      • How right you are. And lets be realistic… an economy based on the purchase of things we dont need is an economy thats in NEED of an evolution IMO.
        Marketers (marketeers? those people in marketing who try to make us feel bad for not having the latest thing) should be sent to work in a coal mine or something as punishment for all this crap 😛

        • Hi Inga,
          welcome to 365 Less things and thank you for adding your voice to our community. Do you ever watch the Gruen Transfer on the ABC (maybe you don’t get it over there). It is a show that picks apart advertising. There are two guys on the panel each week who are in advertising and one of them seems to have a lot less scruples than the other. The American guy often seems appalled at the other fellow who would stop at nothing it seems to sell product. I know that is their job but I think it can be taken too far. The government are just as bad at making people feel guilty for turning away from consumerism. Oh well if it becomes an epidemic then big business will just have to adjust. Lets hope that happens.

    • Well done, 4 weeks to break a habit is just amazing. It matters not a bit that you still have a long way to go, the journey starts with a change of mindset. I see it as peeling an onion’s layers. Each round of decluttering will pare back even more. Things that didn’t go in the first round may make it to the next untill you get to your ‘happy place’ . That place is different for everyone, i’ve been described as having an empty house ( i took it as a compliment:)) to which i replied, my house is not empty, i have 4 kids, 2 cats, 2 dogs and lots of laughter, barking, meaowing !! Whereas my friend who has also pared back has a lot more stuff than me but a lot less than she had before, that’s her happy place. Enjoy this journey, it really is life changing
      Sharron

  9. Having been decluttering over several months and doing a big purge last weekend, I will definitely think twice before acquiring again. There are a number of items I held on to that I am now wondering why and will be getting rid of this weekend. I definitely feel lighter having let go of so many things – things that I no longer needed, wanted, or even remembered having. Things that I held on to out of obligation or guilt. I let it all go! And I will think hard about my motivations before deciding to hold on to an item again.

    • Hi Dee,
      it sounds like you have learned a lot from your decluttering experience. It always amazes me that I have purged so many times in the past but never really learned anything from it. This time is certainly different. I suppose that in the past my family was ever-changing as the children grew up so you excepted clutter as part of the process. But in reality there was always more stuff than we needed. I think it took looking into the future, of just me and my husband in retirement, to realise that stuff is just tying us down. Now is the time to let it go.

  10. I’ve already mentioned in another post about moving to the country from the city…..real country where the “supermarkets” close at 6pm and kanagaroos do jump down the street past the house.
    I found you really have to be even more organised and really think about purchases so much more. The fact that my town is small and more often than not you can’t always get want you want. It does save on those impulse purchases to a degree. You have to plan any type of trip to the big towns – because it means spending on petrol and almost a full day is gone when you have to travel over an hour to the large supermarkets or any specialty shop. So l find l don’t really think about material or superficial buying (especially big items). Unless l desperately need something essential then l just have to put it out of my mind. I have not accumulated much more since moving. I’m not a fan of too much clutter at the best of times. A few of us will be getting together some time in Sept for a garage sale. I hope the things sell. I don’t have a lot but it is good stuff and l want to at least get something for it. I guess in short l don’t have a strong desire to acquire things but do like to buy the odd book (at the moment reading the Underbelly series of books) but that’s my only “guilty pleasure” at present. The only other things l am buying recently are small gifts (they are small and inexpensive) for my nieces as they are very young and are at the age where they appreciate aunty’s pressies! l have no problem in letting go of possessions either – if someone l know wants to borrow a book, or needs something that l have and no longer need – then l usually have no qualms about passing it on.

    • Hi Felicity,
      the difficulties of shopping when living out in the bush sure would make it easy to cut your ties with consumerism. You are in the perfect setting to enjoy the beauties of the world around you that are free so why would you need much else. I hope your garage sale goes well. I suppose that living where you do it would be more difficult also to get rid of your clutter and that it would take one of those trips to the big smoke to offload it. That would make you think twice about acquiring anything while you were in town that’s for sure.

  11. I find that the more I turn loose of…the easier it gets…and the more I WANT to get rid of!

    • Hi Pam G,
      welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for adding your voice to our community. That is the same way I have felt for the last eighteen months. It is a liberating feeling and I am glad you are enjoying it. Decluttering is no longer a chore when all you feel is the freedom of letting go.

  12. Colleen,
    So we have been married the same length of time and our children are at a similar age; no wonder we are at the same stage (even if you’re way more advanced than I) in our “things” life! However, we haven’t moved since we married, so the need to trim took longer to hit me.
    Since I started, however, things have changed totally. I never was one to try keeping up with the Joneses: as my grandmother said to me many years ago “why would I want to keep up with the Joneses; if they had any sense, they’d want to keep up with me!” Nor am I a leader, so I’ve always gone my own way.
    Now, however, I find myself (at last) looking at everything, with the thought “Do we really use this, are we really likely to use this, could our daughter (out flatting) benefit from this”?” If all the answers are “no” – out it goes. If the answer is “yes, I can see us needing/using this”, then it stays for a later cull. If I think she would like it, it is washed and put on her bed until her next visit, when she must decide: yes, or no. If yes, she has to store it with her things, if no – out it goes.
    “Out” means hospice shop, church fair, neighbour’s child’s kindergarten (for making, dressups, pretends, sand pit, etc.), compost (if a natural material), recycling, and only as a last resort, the rubbish tip.
    I am a little sorry I didn’t copy you and take photographs before things went, but initially, I was scared that if I looked too closely, I would want to put stuff back into cupboards and drawers and save them!
    Anyway, I must be into the multiples of hundreds of things by now.
    For a long time, I have been “green”, reusable supermarket carry bags, recycling wherever possible etc. Well, just lately, I have got sick of all the light supermarket plastic (vege bags, fish wrappers, bulk store bags) and looking on the internet, found the site for Onya (try if, if you don’t know it), tracked a shop in my city, and bought an Onyaweigh bag (small parachute silk drawstring bag, containing five lightweight mesh drawstring bags, with a carabiner. So now, that is attached to my keyring and always there, and I use them for everything loose in the supermarket (even mussels). That brought up another problem: I always used those lightweight small plastic bags for husband’s lunch// solution: now I wrap his lunch in a cloth serviette (of which I still have far too many, and was going to ditch), sandwiches in one, toast and biscuits in another.
    As you know, I have been attacking the house for a while now: well, years after we should have, husband and I have attacked the garage! He takes a chair out there for me, and we do about an hour and a half: he took a carload to the tip today (last weekend, and today’s combined rubbish). I have, throughout the week, washed and sent on its way all kinds of stuff: unwanted tupperware, old sheets and towels (SPCA) and who know what else. and that only gets us halfway round.
    Enough of us for now. Suffice it to say, a massive change of viewpoint, from “save everything, we may need it), to “would we really want it?”.

    • Brilliant post, thank you!! Have you checked out The zero waste home?? Bea also has a couple of films on you tube about waste. We are currently working on our green credentials, we have a long way to go, but certainly consuming less helps but i just feel that big companys could do more. Love the comment about the jones’ 🙂

    • Hi Ann,
      that is certainly a big turn around. As you would know the key to going the distance in to appreciate your progress as you go along, and boy are you making some progress. You even have the hubby out in the garage, Woo Hoo! You must surely be feeling the weight lift off your shoulders. I like the deal you have with your daughter, take it or leave it, one chance and it is gone. I wish I had the same deal with my daughter but she isn’t really ready for that yet. One day, one day.

      I checked out the Onya bags, what a great idea. I have a fold-up bag that I keep in my handbag and it has been used so many times. I rarely have a need for the mesh bags because I don’t usually buy any small and numerous enough to warrant them. But I did buy snap peas the other day and had to use a bag for that so I could use one. Every bag saved is a good thing. I went shopping at a weekend market today and I was disappointed to find many of the stalls had bagged items up into multiples. It was more than I needed and in plastic. Isn’t the idea of farmers markets to get fresh produce without the bags. I only chose produce without the bags.

      • Colleen – who said she was ready for it?!

        • Hi Ann,
          well she knows you are ready and she just has to comply or miss out. I will have to take that tact one day if my daughter doesn’t settle somewhere. I told my son if he gets a place first he can have her stuff. The only problem is he probably doesn’t want it either.

  13. sorry, that looks an awfully long post!!

  14. I’ve spent the last 2 years decluttering and downsizing and I am still finding things to get rid of based on your Monday posts. My daughter vacated for college this week and with all her stuff gone and/or packed up, my living room looks so spacious. I am now always looking at my stuff and thinking “Do I need this? Am I going to use it?” I love the extra space and ease of finding something. I, also like you, procrastinate on purchasing items.

    • Hi Bree,
      may I extent to you a hearty welcome to 365 Less Things. I am glad my Monday posts have been useful to you. I get so little feedback on them that I wander is they are not so popular any more but then I get a comment like yours and I think ~ Ah ha! People are still finding them useful. They are fun to put together as well, so I will keep at it. Feel free to make suggestions for mini mission ideas.
      I love that so many fo the comments that have come in from this post shows that people are really looking at decluttering in a different way. It isn’t just a quick task you do once a year without really learning anything from it and then continuing on in the same cycle. People are seeing it as a continuous task until they reach a level of minimalism that suits them. The fact that people are really thinking twice about consumerism as well give me hope for the future.

      • Oh, Colleen, I love the Mini Mission Mondays. They may not elicit many comments because the tasks are spread out over the week ahead, but I bet a lot of your readers like them too. You could probably recycle them forever because they often fall into the ‘maintenance and fine-tuning department’ and that’s just as important as the original clearing out.

        Keep up the good work.

        • Thanks Wendy B and you are right they can be recycled over and over again so it makes writing Mondays post a little easier to produce than others.

  15. Hi Colleen
    I only discovered your site ten days ago, but it has fired me up. Today I spent the day going through the shelves of my closet (I haven’t even started on the hanging items or shoes yet) and tried everything on. Exercise for the day! I’m glad no-one was around because my cheeks were burning. There was stuff there that didn’t fit and stuff that does fit but have never worn. Also three huge bags of clothing I cannot think why I bought in the first place. One of the shelves had collapsed from the weight but I never noticed because the stuff under it was holding it up. You know how when you pig out on chocolate and feel you never want to see the stuff again? Well that’s how I feel about EVER buying any clothes for a year or so. If then.
    Thanks for your superb blog.

    • Hi Shirls,
      a warm welcome to 365 Less Things to you and I am glad to hear that I have you fired up. I have a post coming up this week, I think, about clothes decluttering and purchasing. So stay tuned for that. I was hoping for a little reader input so we can compare mistakes when it comes to choosing our wardrobe in the first place. Stay with us Shirls and we will attempt to give you all the advice you need to get your home into a state that you will feel comfortable with.

  16. Much the same as you, I have no desire for things for their own sake whatsoever. Whilst getting rid of stuff I have begun to feel so much more free, more alive. It is my 40th birthday on Wednesday and everyone has been asking me what I want. When I reply with ‘ nothing ‘ they are truly horrified. They simply can’t believe it. I had one friend beg me to have an expensive present, which while so kind of her I had to fairly forcefully say no. My brother is buying me packets of coffee as I do go through a lot, he can’t seem to see why I want it, but to me, that is a great treat.

    I find clutter of any type abhorrent BUT what I am now coming to terms with is the mental and emotional clutter I am hanging on to. I have recently started having counselling re my abusive ex and his constant barrage of obscenities three years after we broke up. I was too scared to do this until now and I am convinced it is a result of freeing up my physical life..I feel freer and more open.

    Thanks for the chance to share.

    • Hi Tasmanian Minimalist,
      bad relationships can be so paralysing in more ways than one. It must feel so good to finally shrug off the remnants of that period of your life and start again. I am glad that you are having counselling because professionals can give you great strategies to help you get past bad mental habits. I wish you all the best for a complete recovery and a happy future. Oh and happy birthday for Wednesday. You know what they say ~ Life begins at 40! 😉

    • YOU GO GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What an amazing adventure you are on!!! My thoughts and prayers are with you for a very healthy healing process (although it can be sorta painful, it’s good that you are ready to attack this!!!).

  17. Regarding you mini missions Colleen, my achilles heel is make-up, face creams etc, i know it doesn’t take a lot of space but clutter is clutter, if you’ve done this before can you point me in the right direction? I’d love to have it broken up and although i’m not cluttered, this is the one area i struggle with. Perhaps it could be extended to shampoos etc??

    Sharron x

    • Hi Sharron,
      that is what use-it-up decluttering is all about. Well before I started this 365 mission we moved from Seattle in the US back to Australia. When I found out we were moving I decided to start using up the body lotions, make-up, shampoo, conditioners, perfumes etc because sometimes the removalists won’t allow liquids in your removal. We had about 5 months notice and by the time we moved I had very little left which they were happy to put in the boxes. Since then I do my best to make sure that I only have one of everything. Unfortunately people buy toiletries for me occasionally so the lotions still double up at times but aside from that we run on the bare minimum. My bathroom cabinet is so spacious now, luckily because it is very small. 😉 So my advice is to pick one of each product in your collection and use them until they are gone, then start on the next one. Use extra shampoos as liquid soap if you don’t like it as a shampoo. Don’t be tempted to buy any replacements until the backlog is gone. Don’t even try new ones in the store (lead us not into temptation). And discourage people from buying these products as gifts for you. If you do buy a product, once the ones you have are used up, and it turns out not to live up to your expectation persevere and use it up anyway. You will learn to be more cautious in the future. I am almost through some really bad liquid soap the I bought about 4 months ago and I am so looking forward to seeing the back of it but I hate waste so I have persevered. Remember any oil based product can go rancid over time so it is best never to have too much on hand.

      You are not on your own with this weakness so don’t feel bad.

      • You are so NOT alone with the make-up & face creams. Been there, done that!!! I must share with you that once it was all used up I started using extra light olive oil (yes, from my kitchen cabinet, just a SMALL amount is needed). Seriously, thru decluttering (physical stuff AND really letting go of tremendous emotional baggage) I’ve free’d my inner soul, because either the olive oil works for me, or I’ve finally just accepted my skin and how I look and now don’t worry so much and radiate outside from within(side). It’s such a release of ‘crap’ and a lovely state of pure gentle freedom.

        • Hi Annabelle,
          my problem with lotions is that people give them to me and then I forget to use them because for the most part I don’t think they actually help much. I often wonder if using an external moisturiser your skin adapts to stop producing it’s own oils. The more you pamper it the less it takes care of itself. I agree that letting go of vanity is another break for freedom that I embrase for the most part. Maybe too much so at times. 😉

  18. How has your attitude to possessions and your desire to acquire things changed as you progress on your journey to declutter your homes?

    My attitude has totally changed, I no longer wish to acquire/possess much because I’ve found the FREEDOM from:
    waisting my money and time on stuff that has to be searched for, purchased (sometimes returned), taken care of, cleaned, dusted, arranged, decorated, polished, insured, protected from breakage (and possible theft), moving it from one place to another (along with the cost of that)…

    Ahhh, FREEDOM is pure HEAVEN!!!!!!!!!

  19. Am I the only one who still likes to buy things?
    Though my attitude has changed A LOT I found out that I feel best if most of the time I don’t even want to buy things and that if I want to: I just do.
    Like someone already said: It feels like being a rich person.
    Decluttering and re-evalutating stuff in general I started to look diffently at potential buys. I ask myself if this might be something to enjoy for a long time. I ask myself if I was able to let go easily again should I have been wrong about the long time enjoyment. I ask myself if it works with the things I have and if it suits the lifestyle I lead. And if I was willing to let something else go if I get it (though I don’t stick to the one in one out rule dogmatically. Sometimes time have to tell you what to let go and I don’t feel I need to raid my closet the minute I come home from a shopping trip) I think the shift from thinking about the subject of my desire towards thinking about my life(style) and the subject of my desire in that surrounding has done it for me. I used to buy things like objects – because they were pretty (and of course a good bargain always helped my descision, too) and I liked them. I slowly realized that this thinking brings me no closer to the life I want. BUT: The life I want is neither shabby nor frugal. I don’t want to have the feeling I am not getting what I want. If I want nothing it is perfectly fine not to get anything. But if I crave something new I have to take this feeling seriously.
    I think for me it is like diet advisers say: You have to change your eating habits but don’t try to never eat chocolate again.
    So my strategy is maybe: Avoiding shopping facilities: 80%, Resisting: 10% … and the rest is shopping mainly without feeling guilty afterwards.
    After all: by getting a new (or new to me) piece now and then i prevent my wardrobe and my home from feeling old altogether. So actually sometimes getting something new saves me from more shopping.

    • Hi Ideealistin,
      that is an interesting take on the subject of shopping desire. It certainly sounds like a reasonable and healthy approach. It is kind of like my husbands new eating regime, he eats a healthy low carb diet six days a week but on Saturdays he can have whatever he wants. He has lost about 15kg and is now where he wants to be size wise and is maintaining that level. It makes it easy for him to stick to the new plan because he still gets delicious healthy food all week and has a fun day to look forward to on the weekend.

      You are right that your home and wardrobe could get a little shabby if the frugal approach is taken too far. The one advantage on the home front is that it is easier to take care of the things properly that you do have when there are less of them to share your time between. With clothing however is does just wear out quicker which then justifies buying something new. So win win!

      I do like to keep the environment in the forefront of my mind when it comes to shopping though. Adding to the supply and demand of impractical items isn’t something I take lightly and is the driving force behind my spending habits.

    • Idealistin – I still like buying things when i really fancy something but I make sure I do really fancy it
      Last week I bought a gorgeous red armchair and it makes me very happy (old sagging sofa seat not doing my back any favours). Too much decision making and weighing up does my head in, so sometimes I just have to go for it and stop thinking. It is soft chenile material and is the right measurement for my body (so often chairs and sofas on sale are better for tall people) so I can sit well but feel cosy.
      I thengot rid of a side table I hated but ‘was practical’ so I had a one in and one out policy that was a win win situation.

      I also bought a book from a charity shop today that looks an interesting read, but knew when I bought it, I didn’t then have to keep it for the next 10 yrs, but will immediately pass it on to family who will enjoy it and then bak to the charity shop. That is the first time I have consciosly bought a book to give away as soon as I have finished it.
      It sounds like you have got the balance just right for you.

  20. I definitely think twice before buying something now. Not that I was a mega shopper before. But I think ‘where will it live’ and what else could I get rid of in its place.
    I have really noticed this last week the impact of the this years clutter clearing so far. With the last big push on our sitting room last weekeend, we have now had a whole week on everythig put away at the end of the day and nothing new appearing on the floor. The less I own, the easier it is to home things by the end of the day.
    I tend to declutter in big phases, then need time off for a while with little bits and pieces going sporadically in between the big surges.

    I’ve also noticed the freedom from the vague sense of obligation to go clothes shopping or pick bits of clothing up in charity shops or sales at regular opportunities. I know exactly what clothes I have now and that I don’t need anymore til the change of season and then only a few bits. At the change of our summer to autumn in a months time, there will be a few more items going out that I haven’ liked enough to wear this summer, further reducing my capsule wardrobe I created 4 months ago.
    Bliss.
    I also find like others, that the more I let go, the easier it becomes and the more I want to do.

    • Hey Katharine! The words “nothing new appearing on the floor” are music to my ears. Doesn’t it feel great! Wendy

  21. I completely agree about thinking twice about consumerism. I think in life there are stages of consumerism. There are times when you build up(stock up) your house and times when you realize stuff is not necessary. Similar to climbing the corporate ladder then realizing the top or reaching the level you wanted is not what its cracked up to being so you go elsewhere. Of course there are some people out there who never reach that level of realization and continue to climb and accumulate because it makes them feel important or worthy.

    I love your Monday posts and the daily posts listing your decluttered item for the day. It’s inspiration to me to now look at the little things I have left that I may have overlooked. The more I declutter/minimalize the more I want to get rid of. So far I’ve yet to regret getting rid of anything. Yea!

  22. Such interesting answers!

    Mine is: definitely!! My main decluttering regret is that I didn’t start it 20 years ago, as I would have saved myself a fortune 🙂 Anyway, better late than never. As you know, I’ve been at it for more than 3 years and have just about reached the end. The big test will be when we pack up the house to move in a few months. Actually, when I find myself getting anxious or upset I calm myself down by mentally packing each room, and I’m pleased to say that I*think* it is going to be EASY! Not having much stuff, and a small house, there aren’t a lot of things to pack.

    Now I very rarely buy anything without thinking about it properly (my husband would say that I over-analyse and torture myself and everyone around me!) I used to adore going to shopping malls and just window-shopping in general, but I’ve just been on 2 weeks’ holiday and didn’t buy a thing apart from food and a new organic lip liner. It sure freed up a lot of time! Today I went to a couple of op shops to specifically look for wool, as I’ve used up my whole stash (THAT felt fantastic, I take deep, deep pleasure in using things right up).

    The biggest plus is that I’m teaching the children that stuff isn’t that important. They have cheerfully given away lots of toys, books and games but are no less happy than when they had more things. In fact, they are more creative than ever before.

    • Hi Loretta,
      thank you for your response. We are been on this ride together for a while and what a long way we have come. I look forward to hearing how your move goes. I look forward to my next one just to see how fewer boxes there will be.

      It can be quite painful making a purchase when you want to be responsible and satisfied to the enth degree but if that what it takes to staying decluttered then so be it. I have found that the only thing I need to purchase in a hurry is food and everything is can wait until I have done my homework and am reasonable sure I am making a good choice.

      Well done teaching you children to be less materialistic. That characteristic will serve them well.

  23. Hi Colleen,
    I do keep the environment in mind but changed my mind about second hand shopping for example. I used to do lots of thrifting. The good bargains! The things I otherwise could have never afforded! And my conscience was always clear because those things had not been manufactured for my demand but for somebody elses. I was simply giving them a longer life, a new purpose. Only recently did I notice: If thrifted things fulfill my demands and keep me away from buying something new because something used fulfills the same purpose for me then this could happen to other people just the same. By snatching something I do not really need and which ends up in the back of my wardrobe or cupboard or (worse) attic or basement I sort of (potentially) take it away from somebody else. I had to learn to leave the good bargains and pretty things for others to enjoy (even if it meant that some things would go to the obnoxious hoarders who roam the fleamarkets and just buy everything that once was expensive and now is cheap for the thrill, for resale value or whatever reason). on the other hand I got over my aversion to buy new things and pricey things because I reconsidered sustainability. Today I’d define things as sustainable that I get use and enjoyment out of preferably for a long time.
    My key to getting a good balance (not that I am there all the time, but getting better) is the honesty that, as much as I admire minimalists or very frugal people or superduper green people, it is not (entirely) for me. So I’ve changed the goal: I am going for a wardrobe with basics that suit me well and feel fresh with only a new piece like a scarf or a new pair of shoes once in a while (make your weaknesses your strengths!) and a home that can be changed around easily and preferably without adding anything or at least not much when the redecorating bug bites me.

  24. Hi Colleen,
    concerning toilet-cleaning: I just use the regular mikrofibre cloth (brushy on on side, soft on the other) for the whole bathroom but go in the order of cleanest to “dirtiest” which leaves the toilet in the very end. I don’t do the inside, for that I use the toilet brush only, and for the rest of the toilet I take the cleanest to dirtiest path again. Afterwards the cloth goes into the washing machine (air dryed thourougly before if that is not any time soon to not have a germ breeding ground). I suppose you could have an extra toilet only rag maybe in a different colour if that soothed your mind.
    I sometimes sanitized dish cloths or sponges in the microwave when they smelled funny because they were wet for too long (rinsed them out, put them DAMP http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/jan/26/uknews4.mainsection1 in the microwave) which works fine.
    I guess it could be done for the bath cloth too if one is worried about germs (or washes clothes only on cold which is not very common in Germany, I usually toss the cloths in a 40 or 60° load). My not very strong germaphobic side then would probably use an old plate, saucer or small bowl to microwave the bath cloth in so it does not touch the microwave directly and keep that plate handy under the sink for the next time and use it only for that – though that might be a little over the top because apparently the rags get pretty much germ free from the heating.

    Thus said: for anything I find really and visibly gross (pee stains after a party etc.) I’d turn to TP.

    • Hi Ideealistin,
      thank you for your input on this subject. I really appreciate you taking the time to put that comment together. I will consider what you have to say.

  25. I’m new to your blog but processing stuff slowly. It is made me realise I have to buy certain things whether I need them or not. I have a “thing” for them. Would you believe the categories are bike lights, cross stitch magazines and cross stitch charts. Anyway at least your blog has made me realise and curtail my spending somewhat. Thanks!

    • Hi Tanya,
      welcome to 365 Less Things it is good to have you on board. I was trying to figure out when I had seen you email address before but then it occurred to me that I had seen in come through when you signed up to your subscription to the blog. I am intrigued about the onya…e in your email (without giving too much away) is there more to that? I have to admit I googled it when I first saw it and got several different options. Please enlighten me, does it tie in the the love of bike lights somehow? You can contact me through my contact page if you wish your response to this to stay private.

      I am pleased to hear that my blog is inspiring you to curtail your spending. That is certainly one of my aims here at 365 Less Things.

      • Hi Collen,

        Onyabike Cycle Coaching is my business. I am a cycle coach though at present that is on the back burner while I am studying theology. There you go, bikes, cross stitch, theology! You can’t put me in any box. 🙂
        Tanya

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