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Less Stuff, More Life

For the last month and a half I’ve been on a mission that I have dubbed: The Great Purge of 2014.

When the new year dawned it was like something woke up inside me and I realized just how much stuff I have! How did I accumulate this? And, more importantly, why am I keeping it?

I wish I had a better reason for starting this purge but honestly, it all hit me after I started reading a few travel blogs. It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I love travelling (the fact that I haven’t been out of the province for a year and a half is driving me nuts!).

So how does reading travel blogs result in purging? I am so glad you asked! I have no idea if frequent travelling will ever be a part of my life but let’s pretend just for a moment that it will be. My two thoughts are: 1) the less stuff you have, the easier travelling is and 2) the less stuff you buy, the more money you have for travelling.

I fully admit that I am a packrat. A trait that has been passed down to me by both of my Grandmothers (I love those ladies). My Mother on the other hand is the.exact.opposite. When I was a teenager there were many a Saturday where my Mom would show up at my bedroom door with a black garbage day. I hated those days. Purging days.

There are two reasons I find it hard to get rid of stuff:

  1. I place sentimental value on everything. That cute little school photo of my brother when he was in grade 4 (?) with the cute little note that he wrote to me on the back promising me he was going to score a goal for me in hockey that year? Yeah, I still carry that around in my wallet.
  2. I always worry that I will need it in the future. Why would I get rid of my fabric scraps? What if I come across some project in the future that calls for the equivalent of a shipping container full of fabric scraps? If I get rid of them whatever will I do? Craziness I know.

But at the dawn of the new year things changed for me, I had the desire to let go of stuff, I’ve been going around the house from one room to the next, in each closet, going through each drawer . . .

My goal is to reduce my personal possessions by 50-75% and I think I’m pretty close to the 50% mark now (it’s all an estimate, I have no way of actually measuring).

We also did this with Raeca’s toys a few weeks ago, kids accumulate so much, and many of the things didn’t even get played with. Fortunately for her, she seems to take after my Mom, she doesn’t have much problem getting rid of her stuff (minus her special things of course, we wouldn’t ask her to get rid of those).

At this point I’ve gone through almost everything and gotten rid of the things that were easy to pick out (like that empty container of powder foundation in my bathroom drawer, why did I even still have that?) and I even got rid of a few things that I liked or used but for whatever reason decided I could do without.

Now I’m at the hard place. I’ve gotten rid of the easier stuff and now it’s time to purge till it hurts. I’m going to go through my fabric stash again, through my art supplies, through my closet and see what else I can let go of.

I would love it if you would help hold me accountable through this! It’s my goal to be done with the purging by the end of this month and hopefully post an update in the first week of March, if I don’t update, you have full rights to ask me how it’s going and if I’m done!

Are any of you good purgers? I would love to hear some tips and tricks to help me through the rest of my stuff. And if you are a fellow packrat, please raise your hand and make me feel like I’m not the only one.

** I finished typing this out with the biggest head cold ever so hopefully this post makes sense and I didn’t write something crazy in my foggy brained state.

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  1. I am not a good purger. haha. I keep things like that too, wondering if I’ll ever need it. And something actually DID happen like that to me. I had just gotten rid of some old skirts that I never wore, and then I found out that on our missions trip to Nicaragua this summer, I’m going to need some old skirts to wear! THIS is why I hate getting rid of stuff. It’s such a problem. I do try to go through my closet every so often and be ruthless about the stuff I’m not wearing, though. And I really want to go through our books and get rid of some, but Jordan gets so sentimental about his books!

    1. I know, that ALWAYS happens to me! I honestly find out I need something shortly after I get rid of it . . . right now I’m just trying to get over it and tell myself that it’s not an excuse to hold on to stuff.

  2. Along with traveling, I think moving with really show you how much stuff you have! I have moved twice since July of 2012, and both times I was just amazed at how much stuff my husband and I have. It makes it worse that we have a storage unit. I am so wanting to get rid of a lot of our unused stuff and donate it to charities so that people who need it can have it! Good luck with your purging, it sounds like it’s going well so far 🙂

    1. Yes, you are exactly right! That’s when you find out how much you really have! We’ve been in the same place for 4 years now and I can tell we haven’t been purging as much as when we were first married and moved a few times (plus back then we lived in smaller places).

  3. We just moved about two months ago and after 10 years of staying in one place I was stunned by the amount of ‘stuff’ we have accumulated. Our moving expenses were crazy as we had to move it all. However I swore we were going to plurge this year. Now since we are trying to save up and find money for our adoption I’m wondering if I should just wait and have a garage sale or if there is some on line fb group where I can sell our stuff.
    I’m very impressed that you’ve managed to get rid of so much in a short amount of time. How did you do it?

    1. I kind of started purging our stuff last year, I went through and looked at what we had that we didn’t use that could be sold. Definitely made a few hundred dollars that way. The easiest way to sell stuff here is through a local Facebook group, definitely give that a try before you get rid of everything. It’s really helped with our adoption!
      I’ve just been taking it one room or closet or drawer at a time and trying to not get overwhelmed, it’s been working so far!

  4. i was SUCH a pack rat the first two decades of my life! the year before i got married, i went through every single thing i owned and i PURGED big time! it was so, so freeing!!!
    now that i’m married to another pack rat, we have way too much stuff & i am looking forward to doing it again!

  5. i am such a pack rat too! which is weird since i love cleaning, organizing and purging things too! it is good for the soul!! good luck with your mission!!!

  6. I love to get rid of stuff so I am always looking for things to throw away or donate but then there is another side of me that keeps random stuff for the “just in case”. I think you can do it. Just make the piles of donate, keep and throw away. Take one room at a time. Thats what I do.

  7. We usually try to keep our stuff to a minimum, but our recent move made it neccesary to get rid of anything we don’t need now. It was quite a painful process, but the reality is we don’t need all that stuff. It’s such a liberating feeling afterwards!

    1. I believe it! That’s kind of another reason I want to purge, if we ever do get the chance to move I don’t want to have to do all the purging then, I’d like to get a head start now. 🙂

  8. This is awesome! I’ve had the itch to purge stuff lately too because we will most likely be moving sometime this year. It’s such a good feeling when it’s all said and done, yet I too am super sentimental so it can be hard for me to let things go (heaven forbid I forget what the exact color of the t shirt from my first job was!!)

  9. i teeter.
    my grandmother (love her!) is a hoarder. not a filthy hoarder (you could eat off her floors!) but SO MUCH STUFF. i sweat we could fill 50 PODS and her house would still be jam packed with crap!
    i have found that “if i haven’t touched it in 6 months” it has to go. yup.
    i’m currently avoiding going through my kitchen cabinets (“but i love that pot, and i’ve only used it twice in the last 4 years!”) – it is a hard process but necissary. i thought the same thing JUST last night – how much crap i truly have accumulated vs how much things have to go.
    i hold on to a lot of memories with certain items as well. BUT i have come to terms with the memories are NOT the item, the item just triggers them. instead write out your memories so you always have them and purge the item if it isn’t super important (like a pot or pan your mother cooked with). <3
    i can't wait to hear more about this journey, i know it isn't easy, but it does feel good to get rid of things!

    1. That’s how my grandmas are! Their houses are clean, just FULL! Actually, one of mine moved about a year ago and we did a family auction where we got to bid on and buy some of her stuff (which was really cool because I got some awesome stuff), and it was good for her to have to go through everything.
      I like how you mentioned writing stuff down, I definitely do that and want to continue, but I plan on documenting with pictures more as well. And not just the normal stuff but I was thinking of doing it for all of Raeca’s “art work” as well, the papers fill up the fridge and a file folder quickly, so I’m hoping to start photographing her work and then making a photobook out of it when I have enough pictures.

  10. (ps i totally just went through your liked posts on bloglovin…yup just spent like half an hour on there) hahahaha

  11. I’m with you! I’m trying to do this right now, but as soon as I go to throw something away, I suddenly form a huge sentimental attachment to it. Getting rid of things feels amazing, though!

  12. I love that quote. I think I am in need of a great purge as well. My husband religiously lives by the “one in, one out” motto, but I’ve had a hard time with that. I recently switched jobs which also meant wearing a uniform to wearing whatever I want to work, so my closet has grown exponentially in the past few months.
    Stopping by to say hello from Fresh Face Friday! Have a good weekend 🙂

    1. Oh yes, as I’m purging I’m holding on to the one in, one out motto. I haven’t bought anything for a while but when I do I plan on sticking to it, I don’t want to do all this purging for nothing!

  13. I’m more of a natural purger (when my husband can’t find something of his, he always blames me: “Rachel, did you throw that away?”) but when you’ve been in the same place for a while, stuff adds up! With our upcoming move we’ve already started the process of purging but I know we have a long way to do with all the decision-making of what to do with stuff. Still, my house is already looking much emptier (because last weekend we lost 5 large pieces of furniture that we were using that were borrowed). As soon as warm weather comes we’ll get rid of all of our winter clothing…purging is a process, that’s for sure, but the 2 benefits you mentioned are great motivators!

  14. This is so awesome! I’m the worst purger in the world; I can definitely relate to putting sentimental value on everything. I have a box of notes and cards that date back to 2002. It’s bad!! My husband is really good at getting rid of things, so pretty much all of the excess stuff in our house is mine. I could definitely stand to get better at parting with stuff! Also, head colds are the worst. Feel better!

  15. Have you ever read Jen Hatmaker’s 7? It helped me so much with purging and letting go, but it also gave me a healthy dose of guilt when I looked at my closet and calculated how much money was in there in clothing form and what better uses there are for that money ( I could have feed an family in Africa for a couple of generations)…but the beauty of the book is it’s all rooted in faith and God.

    1. Yes, I love Jen’s book! I did a little purge after reading it but I’m realizing that it needs to be more of a lifestyle change than just a purge, I’m working on figuring it all out now!

  16. I would love to read more as you go through the purging process! Unfortunately I did not get the purging gene. My sister is great at getting rid of stuff and keeping the amount of stuff to a minimum, but I’m like you – I have a hard time getting rid of things, because what if I need/want it later? And I have actually had that experience of forgetting I got rid of something, and then searching for it, and then realizing I gave it away and regretting it – which does not help my pack rat tendencies any. Oy, vey.

    1. I’ll do an update the first week of March. I did a little more purging today and came across a tub of 13 empty school binders ???? Haha, why do I keep all this stuff?! Well, in my head I say “I’m a teacher and when I get a full-time contract again down the road (once the kiddos are all in school) maybe I’ll need them.” I’m realizing that is just not a good enough reason any more. 🙂

  17. Right there with you on the sentimental value. It’s hard for me to get rid of even the silliest of things when I attach some sweet memory or dream of potential use to them. That said, I find that life is easiest, and I have the most time to focus on what I enjoy, when I’m not spending time cleaning and caring for material possessions.

    1. Isn’t it so hard to go back and forth. Keep it for sentimental value or get rid of it so you have less stuff and more time . . . thankfully right now my purging side is winning so I’m rolling with it!

  18. Yes, I lighter is definitely how I’m starting to feel! It always surprises me that I can get caught up in the trap of more or more, when I obviously feel better with less.

  19. I love this mindset! I tend to “purge” my home a few times a year. I can’t stand clutter or useless items lying around, so out they go. It is so freeing to toss what’s not needed, but I also understand how it can be difficult (sentimental items, “what if I need this in the future?”, etc). That’s awesome that you are dedicating time to simplifying your surroundings… the payback will be priceless 🙂

    1. Thanks Caitlin! I’ve purged before but have come to realize that what I really need is a lifestyle change. It’s definitely time for me to stop acquiring so much stuff in the first place.

  20. I LOVE this! so proud of you! I also find that junk just weighs us down. We feel freer, cleaner, more a live when we are not sitting in piles. I have a personal rule that every time I buy something new for my closet, I have to get ride of something I no longer wear – maybe it just doesn’t fit right now or I don’t love the color or for whatever reason I forget about it most days – that piece goes to goodwill (or my friends!) it keeps me balanced. I suggest that when you are done with all this purging you set rules for yourself. that way you don’t need to repurge every year!

    1. That is exactly my plan! I’ve been on a spending freeze for the last month or so and when it’s over my plan is to definitely have a strict one for one rule. If one thing comes in, one thing goes out.

  21. oh my. while reading this, i was thinking about my never ending pile of fabric scraps and clothes that are overflowing in my closet. i also have sentimental attachment- WHY?! thanks for this post, i need to hear it:) i can’t believe you’ve purged so much already though! that’s awesome!

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